Can Car­phone Ware­house refuse a re­fund af­ter 21 months?

Computer Active (UK) - - Consumeractive -

QI bought a Nexus 5X (pic­tured) phone from Car­phone Ware­house in Fe­bru­aryy 2016. It’s now stuck in a boot loop, which a re­pair shop has told me is a known fault with the 5X’s mother­board. Var­i­ous on­line ar­ti­cles sup­port this claim. Butt Car­phone Ware­house says too much time has passed for me to re­turn the phone for a re­fund. Is that right?

Clare Ed­wards

ANo that isn’t cor­rect. We think Car­phone Ware­house is con­fus­ing Clare’s rights un­der the Con­sumer Rights Act (CRA) with the var­i­ous poli­cies it has on ex­chang­ing phones – th­ese de­pend on which mo­bile net­work you’re signed up to. Some net­work providers, in­clud­ing Vir­gin and O2, let you ex­change a phone within 14 days, though you have to pay any charges used on the SIM. Voda­fone and Or­ange don’t al­low you to swap once you’ve bought the phone. For de­tails of Car­phone Ware­house’s poli­cies visit www.snipca.com/25944.

But th­ese poli­cies dodon’t ap­ply to goods that have an in­her­ent faulfault, such as the Nexus 5X5X’S boot loop. Un­der the CRA, Clare can ma­make a claim within six yearyears (in Eng­land and Wawales) or five years (in Scot­land). Hhow­ever, she would need to prove the fault is in­her­ent in the small claims court.

Clare can’t as­sume that the in­ter­net ar­ti­cles she’s read will help her case. Legally, they are re­garded as ‘hearsay’, and she’ll need to ask peo­ple com­plain­ing on­line to sign a wit­ness state­ment. Even then, a judge may dis­miss this ev­i­dence. She’d also need to prove that her phone’s fault is the same as that be­ing dis­cussed on­line.

But rather than make Clare go through the small claims process, we’ll con­tact Car­phone Ware­house on her be­half, ex­plain­ing that she is con­fi­dent the fault lies with the mother­board. We hope to have a suc­cess­ful out­come.

We’re happy to con­tact com­pa­nies on your be­half, ex­plain­ing what rights you have, and bad­ger­ing them into tak­ing the cor­rect ac­tion. But equally we en­joy clar­i­fy­ing your rights so you can talk to the com­pany your­self, and arm your­self for fu­ture bat­tles. That’s what reader Frank Dean did, af­ter con­tact­ing us about a faulty Sony Cy­ber-shot DSC-HX400V cam­era (pic­tured) he bought in 2014 for £400 from London Cam­era Ex­change (see Is­sue 511).

The re­tailer wanted to charge Frank for a sec­ond re­pair, hav­ing al­ready clob­bered him for £105 to fix the cam­era in 2016. It should not have done this be­cause the cam­era had an in­her­ent fault, showing the er­ror code ‘E:62:10’, which has been widely re­ported on­line ( www.snipca.com/25953) and con­firmed by Sony.

Frank ex­plained all this, and must have made a good case be­cause London Cam­era Ex­change re­placed his cam­era, and re­funded him £105 for the first re­pair. One rea­son the case dragged on for so long is that Franknk bought the cam­era be­fore the in­tro­duc­tion of the Con­sumer Rights Act, in Oc­to­ber 2015, which forces com­pa­nies to re­fund or re­place af­ter one failed re­pair. For all prod­ucts bought be­fore then that aren’t in­her­ently faulty, re­tail­ers can try to re­pair them as many times as they like.

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