AA Legal Documents
Law guide

Mobile phones



If you have bought a mobile phone, it must be:

  • Of satisfactory quality
  • Fit for its purpose
  • As described
What to do if there is a problem

When a mobile phone doesn't meet some or all of these conditions:

After a few weeks or less

If you have only had the phone a few weeks or haven't had a reasonable opportunity to check it, you are probably entitled to a refund for a fault or poor description, or alternatively you may request a replacement.

If the fault is only minor and can easily be put right, it is reasonable to accept a repair. This repair should be done to a satisfactory standard at no additional cost to you. If the repair is not carried out to a satisfactory standard, then you are entitled to seek a refund.

After more than a few weeks

If you have had the phone longer than a few weeks or have had a reasonable opportunity to check it, you may be entitled to a repair or replacement but this will depend on the circumstances. A repair should be carried out within a reasonable period of time and without causing you significant inconvenience. Any repair should restore goods to a satisfactory condition.

If the phone cannot be replaced or repaired

If the phone cannot be replaced or repaired economically, you are entitled to a refund. The trader may make a reduction from the price you paid to allow for the use you have had from the phone.

If the purchase has caused additional expense

If you are out of pocket in any other way, you may be entitled to compensation over and above the price of the phone.

If the seller tries to deny their liability

Remember, if you are entitled to a refund, replacement, repair or compensation, it is the trader who must sort out your problem. The trader cannot tell you to go back to the manufacturer.

Problems with the network service provider

When you buy a mobile phone, in order to make or receive calls you will need to be connected to a network.

For more information, see our 'Mobile network service providers' article.

Important points to bear in mind

  • Read the terms and conditions of your agreement with the trader.
  • You have no rights if you simply change your mind.
  • You have seven working days to cancel a contract for a service ordered by telephone, mail order, email or fax, except for goods which are made to order. See 'Your right to cancel' for more information.
  • If you bought on credit, you may be able to claim against the finance company. See 'Problems with goods' for more information.
  • If you choose a contract phone rather than a pre-pay phone, you will be committed to using a certain network, at a certain tariff for a minimum period of time without any legal right to change tariff or cancel. See our 'Mobile network service providers' section for more information.
  • Your rights cannot be taken away by terms and conditions written into a notice, receipt, contract, warranty or guarantee.

If things go wrong

If there is a problem with the phone, network service or SIM card you have purchased, do the following.

  • Check there really is a fault - read any instructions very carefully. Check that the phone is charged and, if you can, check the strength of the signal.
  • Be certain that the fault was not caused by misuse, an accident, normal wear and tear or by not following the instructions.
  • If you can, collect together all the documents which came with the phone - including any contract, guarantee, instructions, leaflets etc.
  • If you have a contract phone, check your terms and conditions. If you have a pre-pay phone, read the terms and conditions booklet supplied with the phone.
  • If there is a problem, contact the trader straight away and report the problem, a trader may wish obtain a written opinion from an independent expert to establish whether a returned item is indeed faulty or not, to ensure that the appropriate offer of redress is made to the consumer - it shall not, however, be legally binding unless both parties agree to it
  • If the fault is with the phone, you should contact the shop where you bought it.
  • If the fault is with the network or SIM card, you should contact the Network Service Provider. See our 'Mobile network service providers' section.