AA Legal Documents
Law guide

Mobile phones

Contents

If you've bought a mobile phone, it must be:

  • of satisfactory quality;
  • fit for its purpose; and
  • as described.
You can find out more about your rights in the section Introduction to your legal rights.

If there is a problem with the mobile phone

Faults before use

If you've bought a mobile phone that is faulty before it has been used, you should be entitled to a full or partial refund. This won't be the case if you had a reasonable opportunity to examine it when buying and the fault was so obvious that you should have noticed it.

Whether you're entitled to a full refund depends on whether you've 'accepted' the phone.

The Sale of Goods Act states that you have a 'reasonable time' to examine goods after purchase before they're regarded as 'accepted' by you. It doesn't specifically state how long a 'reasonable time' is; it depends on factors such as how often you use the item, the type of fault (e.g. whether it's obvious or not) and whether you've continued to use the item despite knowing it has a fault.

If you've accepted the phone, you may be entitled to a repair or replacement. The seller is entitled to refuse either of these if the cost of doing so would be excessive in comparison to the alternative. Whatever solution is agreed, it shouldn't result in undue inconvenience to you.

After a few weeks or less

If you've only had the phone a few weeks before a fault has arisen, you may be entitled to a refund (assuming that you didn't have a reasonable opportunity to examine it when buying and the fault wasn't so obvious that you should have noticed it). This will only be considered as long as the phone hasn't been accepted (see above).

Alternatively, you may request that the phone be repaired or replaced. If the fault is only minor and can easily be put right, it's reasonable to accept a repair. This repair should be done to a satisfactory standard at no additional cost to you. If the repair isn't carried out to a satisfactory standard, you're entitled to seek a refund.

If you return the phone in the first 6 months from the date of purchase to request a repair or replacement, you don't have to prove that the phone was faulty at the time of sale. There is an assumption that the phone was faulty unless the seller can prove otherwise. If you opt for a refund rather than a repair or replacement, the onus will be on you to prove that the phone was faulty at the time of sale.

After more than a few weeks

If you've 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. However, 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 can't be replaced or repaired

If the phone can't be replaced or repaired economically, you're entitled to a refund. The seller can make a reduction from the price you paid to allow for the use you've had from the phone.

If the phone has caused additional expense

If you're 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

If you're entitled to a refund, replacement, repair or compensation, it's the seller who must sort out your problem. The seller can't tell you to go back to the manufacturer.

If there is a problem with the network service provider

When you buy a mobile phone, you'll need to be connected to a network.

See Telecommunication networks for more information on how to resolve any problems you might have with the network service provider.

Important points to bear in mind

  • Read the terms and conditions of your agreement with the seller.
  • You have no rights if you simply change your mind (except where you've ordered by telephone, mail order, internet or fax – see Cancellation periods for more information.
  • If you bought on credit, you may be able to claim against the finance company. See Introduction to your legal rights for more information.
  • If you choose a contract phone rather than a pre-pay phone, you'll 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 Telecommunication networks for more information.
  • The rights mentioned above can't be taken away by terms and conditions written into a notice, receipt, contract, warranty or guarantee.