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Faulty phone saga

Electronics chain Dick Smith has apologised after a store manager refused to accept a customer’s faulty phone should be repaired under the Consumer Guarantees Act.

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Consumer member Peter Jamieson and daughter Rachelle took her $800 Samsung phone back to Dick Smith when it failed just two months out of the 12-month manufacturer’s warranty. Peter asked for the phone to be repaired under the CGA but was told it was “out of warranty” and he’d have to pay a $92 service charge.

Peter says the store insisted repairs were his responsibility and refused to accept that the CGA obliged the store to fix the phone.

When our consumer adviser Maggie Edwards rang the store, the manager also declined to accept any obligation under the Act. Even if the CGA did apply, the manager said, he had no authority to give a refund.

Concerned about the store’s response, Maggie advised Peter to lodge a complaint with the Commerce Commission. She also contacted Dick Smith’s head office in Australia. The company agreed with Maggie that the situation hadn’t been dealt with properly. It got in touch with Peter and arranged a refund of the $92 service charge.

The company apologised for the inconvenience caused and said it was sorry to hear about Peter’s experience. It added that it took the CGA “very seriously” and “would like to stress this was an isolated incident which has been addressed internally and does not reflect Dick Smith across New Zealand”.

Legal points

  • Your rights under the CGA are on top of any manufacturer’s warranty and don’t end when the warranty does.
  • The Act requires goods to be of acceptable quality. If a product is faulty and you haven’t caused the fault, you have the right to go back to the retailer and ask for it to be fixed.
  • Where it’s a minor fault, the retailer can repair the product or replace it with an identical model or give you a refund.
  • If the fault is major, it’s up to you whether you choose a replacement or a refund. You can also opt to keep the goods and claim compensation for the loss in value.
  • Don’t accept the “out of warranty” brush-off.