Telecommunications giant Vodafone have been forced into a climb down after being accused of flouting the law by wrongly denying replacements or adequate repairs for faulty phones by a best-selling author.
Bournemouth based Yoof-Speak writer Martin Baum has secured an unlikely triumph in what he described as a “David versus Goliath victory against a company that sticks two fingers up to the consumer” after he was finally given a brand new replacement for his damaged phone.
It comes amid growing awareness amongst consumers that under UK law people have up to six years to seek recourse for faulty items, while under an EU directive this can be two. Either way it represents a substantially longer period than the one-year guarantees that is normally offered by companies and raises questions over the need to fork out for hefty extended warranties.
Mr Baum’s determination in seeking justice despite being constantly stonewalled by the phone giant paid off when he was finally given a brand new replacement for his Galaxy model after the original developed a cracked screen within only eight weeks of purchase. After initially agreeing to replace it with a new phone Vodafone only gave him a “repaired” device that was damaged, therefore contravening consumer law the author argued.
Mr Baum was left in limbo even after he pointed out that he was legally entitled to a brand new replacement and has questioned how many others are being railroaded by the company and not receiving what is rightfully theirs.
“Vodafone have been breaking the law by not giving me a replacement as is my right and was promised – instead they tried to give me a different phone that had been refurbished but had a chip on the side and then claimed it was my own,” Mr Baum said.
“After stonewalling me for weeks they have finally decided to give me a new phone, which just goes to show they knew they were in the wrong. It is a victory I never thought would happen but the bigger picture here is more important with many others being bullied and not getting what is theirs or not even knowing about their rights,” he continued.
He added: “It wasn’t long ago that this country was paying more for cars than the rest of Europe until that scam stopped through consumer groups demanding change. The mobile phone industry needs to be taught the same lesson.”
Vodafone are not alone though in this practice, as customers are consistently being thwarted in receiving what should be theirs. The Sale of Goods Act 1979 states that those buying damaged items potentially have up to six years to qualify for a replacement/repair/refund, while the EU directive indicates this can be done within a two-year period.
However, with few aware of their rights and with sellers happy to not own up to their responsibilities it means customers are not getting the protection they are entitled to. Retailers often refuse to assist those with a faulty item out of their one-year guarantee scheme but are also being intransigent with recently bought goods.
The government’s website – www.direct.gov.uk – states: “If you bought the item within the last six months, it’s the trader’s responsibility to prove the item wasn’t faulty when you bought it. If you bought your item over six months ago, you may have to prove the fault was not caused by accidental damage or wear and tear.”
A spokesperson for Vodafone said following an investigation it had been decided to offer Mr Baum a new phone.