New iPhone stopped working 14 months into two-year contract

Pricewatch: Many warranties run out after a year whereas your consumer rights don’t

 

A reader called Susan contacted us with a query about a mobile phone that has a broad aspect with which many readers might identify.

“I am tied into a 24-month contract with Vodafone, ” her mail starts. “I got an iPhone 7 Plus on the contract which was taken out in November 2018. In January 2020, 14 months into the contract, the phone stopped working, the Apple icon appeared on the screen and the phone just locked up, couldn’t be turned on or off.”

So Susan brought it back to the Vodafone shop in Kilkenny where she had bought it and was told the Apple warranty was for only a year so she had to pay for it to be fixed.

Reasonable

“After leaving the shop I decided to look up some consumer legislation,” her mail continues. “On reading up on European and Irish consumer law, I assumed I would be covered at least for two years which is stated under Irish law and would seem reasonable for the product seeing as the contract is for 24 months and you would assume the phone would last for the duration of the contract.”

So she went back to the shop and said this. “They said they would send the phone back to see. Then I received a call stating it would be approximately €370 to have it repaired, take it or leave it basically as I am not covered by Apple. I asked if Apple had to operate under Irish law and was just told the same again and to take it up with Apple but I stated that my contract is with Vodafone and they should represent my case but this didn’t work. I then rang Vodafone customer care to be told the same.”

Susan wonders if she is deluded in thinking she is covered under the umbrella of Irish-European consumer legislation.

It is worth pointing out that a warranty is not the be-all and end-all. It is offered by a manufacturer but does not trump statutory consumer rights. Under the Sale of Goods Act, consumers have up to six years to seek redress for faulty or defective items.

There are limits to this law, however. And the limits are typically governed by how much you pay for something, what it is supposed to do and what you do with it.

A watch that costs €10 is probably not going to last long so if it breaks after a year, you have no real comeback. A phone that costs close to €1,000 should last more than a year and more than 14 months and, if it doesn’t, then the retailer or service provider has a case to answer, warranty or no warranty.

Secondly, as this reader points out, her contract is with Vodafone and not with Apple and while she can deal with Apple if she so chooses, she can not be told to by Vodafone.

Exclusions

According to the Competition and Consumer Protection website, a “guarantee or warranty gives you additional protection if something goes wrong. However, you are still protected by your consumer rights regardless of any warranty or guarantee. Often warranties can be more generous, for example, they may also cover accidental damage, but they do sometimes have exclusions and many run out after one year whereas your consumer rights don’t.”

We contacted Vodafone to see what it had to say. Apart from outlining the law as we know it, the answer was very little. The company asked for the device IMEI so it could “review the results of [our reader’s] device test”. The statement went on to say that “while we cannot confirm without the device IMEI, from the information provided; it would appear that her handset had a fault which was not covered by either manufacturer warranty or her statutory rights”.