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Vodafone sorry for faulty advice

A Vodafone customer told he had no rights under consumer law has earned an unreserved apology from the company.

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Consumer member Martin Barry bought a $1000 mobile phone from Vodafone on a two-year plan in February 2015. When the battery failed last month, he took it to the store to be fixed.

A fault was found with the battery but the service manager told Martin his warranty was void and he wasn’t covered by the Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA) either, stating “when your device no longer has a warranty, any and all issues with it are your own liability”.

The service manager suggested Martin consider paying off the $300 remaining on the phone and buying a new mobile “as it could come out to less than the cost of your repair”. If Martin didn’t want to pay for repairs, he’d be charged a $57.50 inspection fee to get his faulty phone returned.

Our consumer adviser Maggie Edwards says the manager’s advice was wrong and misled Martin about his legal rights under the CGA.

“Consumers’ rights under the CGA are additional to any cover provided by a manufacturer’s warranty. The Act requires products to be of acceptable quality. If the battery fails on a $1000 phone 17 months after purchase, you’re entitled to ask the retailer to put things right,” she says.

The service manager also told Martin he’d voided the manufacturer’s warranty because he hadn’t used an authorised agent to repair the phone’s screen when it broke accidentally two days after purchase.

However, companies are on shaky ground if they claim repairs can only be done by their agents. Provided repairs are carried out by a qualified person, we believe any subsequent warranty or CGA claim should be honoured.

After we contacted the company, Vodafone apologised to Martin for his experience at the store. “Our team works extremely hard every day to provide our customers with excellent service and we are disappointed that we failed to deliver on this occasion. Unfortunately, our usual procedures were not followed,” a spokesperson said. Martin’s phone is also being repaired free of charge.

Legal points

The Consumer Guarantees Act requires goods to be of acceptable quality. If a product has a minor fault, the retailer can opt to repair the item, replace it or give you a refund. If the fault is major, you have the right to reject the product and claim either a refund or a replacement.

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