Tony Barker bought a Huawei Ascend G300 from Vodafone, but when it developed sound problems the company wouldn't let him return it
I bought a Huawei Ascend G300 phone from Vodafone on a 12-month contract in June. I have enjoyed many of the features of the phone. However, the ringtone volume is very low, even when on the highest setting. I have returned to the Vodafone branch on three occasions during the past four months to complain about this. When I asked for an exchange or refund, Vodafone said I was outside the 28-day time period in which I could return the phone and must accept a repair.
Mr Barker does not have to prove that this phone is inherently faulty because he is within the six-month period after purchase, during which the retailer must prove no such fault exists. But Vodafone is entitled to check to see if there is an inherent fault. Mobile phone companies often quote this ‘28-day’ limit when customers want to return new phones for a replacement or refund. It is not a breach of the Sale of Goods Act because, generally speaking, the customer does have about a month in which to reject goods that are faulty for a refund. But the way store staff present this information can mislead buyers into assuming they do not have this right.
After the 28-day period, the retailer is entitled to offer a repair before providing a replacement or refund. If Vodafone has the phone repaired and Mr Barker finds the problem is not fixed, he is then entitled to demand alternative redress. This could be a pro-rata refund or, if he wishes, a replacement phone.
What he does not have to do is put up with constant repairs. Consumer law does not actually spell out how many times a customer has to accept repeated repairs, but the Sale of Goods Act does state they should not be ‘inconvenienced’. The Law Commissions of England and Wales and Scotland have recommended to Government that if the retailer is unable to fix an inherent fault the first time, it must offer alternative redress to the customer.
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