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My mobile phone has broken but it's out of warranty, what do I do?

publication date: Jun 23, 2012
author/source: Dean Dunham
Dean DunhamThis is becoming an increasing problem, especially with iPhones. Here's the scenario which for many people will sound familiar. You go to a shop to buy an iPhone and you get told that you can have the iPhone FREE if you take out a two year contract. With iPhones costing at least £350, this sounds like a good deal so you agree to the two year contract with a charge of around probably £43 per month.

However, 13 to 14 months later your iPhone breaks down. Your immediate reaction is to telephone your network provider to ask for a replacement but they say no because the phone is past its "one" year warranty. All you can do is buy a new phone. WRONG, you do have options.

1.     Use the Sale of Goods Act argument

Under the Sale of Goods Act 1979 products must be "fit for purpose". In this respect, you could argue that a handset sold on a two year contract is only "fit for purpose" if it lasts two years, therefore when you took the contract out you clearly intended to use the iPhone for the entire two years and most probably beyond. There are cases where this has proved successful and the handset has been replaced. If this happens then your case is with the network or retailer rather than Apple.

You could also argue, again using the Sale of Goods Act, that consumers have the right to ask the retailer to replace or repair any faulty item for up to six years after an item is purchased.

2.     Quote EU Law

The principle here is straightforward. There is an EU directive called "EU Directive 1999/44/EC" which clearly states that: "A two-year guarantee applies for the sale of all consumer goods everywhere in the EU (which includes the UK).

Crucially, a key point in the directive is that it doesn't require the buyer to show the fault is inherent in the product and not down to their actions, unlike the Sale of Goods Act

However, the problem with this argument is that when you go back to the shop where you purchased the iPhone and tell them all about your rights under this EU Directive they will no doubt look at you with a blank expression. Don't worry, this just means that they have never heard of this law before. If this happens you should demand that your complaint is referred up the ladder to the retailer's legal team as they will understand the argument.

When making your complaint, there is an important point that you need to be aware of which is that after a product is six months old, the onus is on the consumer to prove there was a problem when they received the goods, even if it's taken time to manifest itself.

My Advice: Prevention is always better than cure. When you buy an iPhone you can pay for an extended warranty from Apple which they call "The AppleCare protection plan for iPhone". This will give you an extra year's hardware repair cover on top of the standard one year warranty and includes both parts and labour, for the iPhone, battery and accessories.

However, if you have already purchased your iPhone and find yourself in the situation described above, make sure that you complain immediately and put your complaint in writing. Overall, persevere, as retailers do not like persistent, complaining consumers.

For more information on your consumer rights or any other legal matter or for money saving tips/advice and to gain access to 145,000 discount vouchers visit Dean's website.