Phone warranties and breakfast cereal prices

Pricewatch: know your customer rights and remember supermarkets make mistakes

The Carphone Warehouse: “We apologise for the inconvenience . . . due to a misunderstanding by our customer service team.” Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

The Carphone Warehouse: “We apologise for the inconvenience . . . due to a misunderstanding by our customer service team.” Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

iPhone query

Michelle Carney bought an iPhone 6 from a Carphone Warehouse outlet in June 2015 on a 24-month contract with Eir. “In September 2016, I started having problems when I downloaded a software update. The problem I had was the screen would go blank intermittently even though the phone was still operating in the background. The problem became worse over a short period until it got to the point where I could not use the phone,” she writes.

So she brought it into Carphone Warehouse, who told her that the phone was outside of the 12-month warranty. She was told she would have to call into an Apple agent store. She did and was told that the screen needed replacing. “I was provided with a copy of Apple’s consumer information that stated basically it was covered under Irish consumer law but I would have to go through the seller who is Carphone Warehouse.”

So she dropped in an attached complaint letter and was told that as it was outside of the 12-month warranty it was not covered for repair or refund. “At this stage my only course of action was to bring them to the small claims court. I then went back and contacted Apple and eventually after long discussions and evidence that the fault was not caused by physical neglect, they replaced the phone in October 2016.”

“Now just five months on, the screen has gone again and, after being in contact with Apple, they advised me to bring it to CompuB to get it checked as they were unable to solve the issue over phone. I did this last Friday and I was told that it would need a replacement screen at a cost of €167. CompuB told me that it was out of warranty, to which I asked that if it’s the same problem as before (ie screen defect), was it not covered under warranty for a year. They said I need to contact Apple as they couldn’t advise me on this.”

There are a couple of things going on here. First, our reader bought the phone from Carphone Warehouse which means her contract of sale was with that shop so it had the sole obligation to resolve any problems she had with the product. By directing her to Apple – or to one of its agents – it would appear to us that the retailer has let her down.

The second thing that strikes us is Carphone Warehouse’s insistence that, as the product was out of warranty, it had no obligation to her. This is, of course, complete nonsense. A 12-month warranty can be offered by a manufacturer – in this case, Apple - but statutory rights trump them every time and warranties are not the last word when something breaks or doesn’t work as it should.

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. An Apple phone that has a sale price of in excess of €700, however, should last quite a bit longer than that.

Another point worth making concerns the new phone she was given. If a person gets a replacement product under warranty, the warranty clock is not reset to zero. So if a phone breaks after 10 months and you get a new one, do not be surprised if the manufacturer tells you the new phone has a warranty of only two months.

We contacted Carphone Warehouse and received the following statement: “We apologise to Miss Carney for the inconvenience caused to her which was due to a misunderstanding by our customer service team. We will contact her directly to resolve this matter as quickly as possible and arrange a replacement handset.”

Supermarket prices

“I am a long-term customer of Tesco online shopping,” her mail starts. “It is a fantastic service but the price difference between Tesco and my local SuperValu on a 1.1kg bag of No Added Sugar Alpen is a staggering 47 per cent and has been for a very, very long time now.”

Last week she bought the product in question for €4.95 in Super Valu, Raheny, while the same product costs €7.29 in Tesco. “At the weekend I purchased the 560g box online from Tesco at €3.50, down from €4.65 on special offer. I still cannot believe the price difference between the two stores and, as I’ve already said before, this has been the case for well over a year. I’ve never queried the price with either store but am fascinated by the rather stark difference in price for the same product.”

In a statement, Tesco said it “stocks nearly 40,000 products . . . Every week we check more than 10,000 prices against our competitors to make sure we offer the best value possible.

“Regrettably, when managing this number of products, pricing errors, both up and down, do occur very occasionally. This product was incorrectly priced and has now been reduced to €4.95. Tesco would like to sincerely apologise for this mistake and we thank our customer for bringing it to our attention.”

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