Motorola's "Defy" smart phone is advertised as "life proof". The company's YouTube video implies the phone can survive almost anything you can throw at it – including being doused in water and dropped on a hard floor.
But 12-year-old Sam Clouston's phone proved to be not so tough. The five-month-old mobile fell out of his pocket on to the concrete and the screen – made from strengthened "gorilla glass" – smashed.
He's not the only person to complain about the screens on these phones breaking. BBC consumer affairs programme "Watchdog" has reported similar complaints, despite Motorola's ads suggesting the phone can be dropped with no damage done. Motorola told the programme the device underwent "rigorous tests" and the number of complaints about cracked screens represented less than 0.1 percent of users.
Sam bought his Motorola Defy from Telecom and his first thought was to call the company about the broken screen. Telecom's customer service rep told Sam he needed to deal direct with Motorola.
"When I contacted Motorola, I was told the phone may be 'life proof' but that didn't mean it was ‘drop proof'." Motorola advised Sam he could get the phone fixed at its repair centre, though he'd have to pay for this.
Unhappy with Motorola's response, Sam got in touch with us. Our consumer adviser Maggie Edwards believed Sam had a good case and suggested he make a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) about Motorola's ad: "The ASA's code of ethics states ads shouldn't be misleading or deceptive or likely to mislead or deceive. Motorola's online advertising implies the phone can withstand being dropped on a hard surface but Sam's phone clearly couldn't."
Sam took Maggie's advice. Maggie also contacted Telecom to discuss Sam’s case.
After he lodged his complaint with the ASA, Motorola offered to repair the phone and also gave Sam a pack of accessories. As a result, the ASA considered the matter resolved and didn't make a formal ruling on whether the ad breached its code of ethics.
Telecom also gave Sam a new phone as a gesture of goodwill.
Sam is very happy with the outcome and extremely pleased he decided to pursue the case.
Maggie believes Sam did a great job sticking up for his consumer rights: "He persevered with his complaint when others may have given up. Good on him."