James Mayes

Blog: Epic fail from @VodafoneUK store reps…

In Mobile, Personal on January 17, 2013 at 10:44 am

So I picked up a new HTC One X phone late last year. I think it’s one of the best Android phones out there and I’ve been very impressed. Until recently. The screen started phasing out on me. Some wierdness with the colours, then the sizing, then finally just refusing to show anything. The phone itself is fine (proved this via feedback noises on a few different tests) just the screen. Clearly, a repair or replace is needed.

The handset came from Vodafone, about 3 months back – so pretty fresh, protected by a case the whole time and not a mark on the phone or the case. Picked it up on a contract, one of those where you pay for the airtime and data, the handset being provided “free” – meaning you have to commit to twelve or eighteen months of charges, so paying for it that way instead. Always thought that was fair enough, never had an issue.

Took the handset to my local Vodafone shop, where an interesting conversation ensued. According to two different sales assistants, my contract covers the airtime only. The phone is provided absolutely free and as such, the retailer has no responsibilities towards it and the sale of goods act does not apply. This means despite the fact its become non-functional very quickly, Vodafone don’t have to do *anything*.

They offered to take if off me and send it off to a repair centre to be fixed under HTC’s warranty, but this leaves me with two problems. Firstly, I’m now paying for airtime and data which I can’t use until they fix/replace and return the phone. Second, the HTC warranty is valid for twelve months and I have an eighteen month contract. What happens if the handset breaks in those last six months?

Vodafone suggested their insurance was the perfect solution… but this adds nigh on 50% to the monthly cost, for something which *should* be free from failure for the life of the contract offered. Of course, if I lose or smash it, I expect that to be my problem.

Here’s the final piece of amazement for me though… I challenged the sales guy on whether he thought this situation was reasonable. He stated that he didn’t think it was, but that the law let them get away with it.


Way to go, Vodafone! Rest assured, you’ll not be getting another contract out of me.

  1. Big oops. At least the store person was honest…

  2. They did a very similar thing to me. I bought a Galaxy SII from Vodafone store. About 5 months later the screen slowly starts leaking into itself and turns purple… then goes black.

    After taking it to a Vodafone store and sending it in for repairs; they come back saying their engineers had decided it was user error, and would charge £120 to repair it.

    As an engineer by trade myself, I requested to speak to the engineers directly and find out exactly how this could be user error. Vodafone refused to let me speak to an engineer under any circumstances. After not backing down, the best answer I got was that I had caused the battery to discharge excessive voltage, damaging the circuitry. They seriously claimed this was my doing.
    This was still second hand information from the person in the shop, I was still not permitted to speak to an engineer.

    My options were, to pay the repair fee, or they would send the phone back un-repaired with a photo of the damaged circuitry (apparently as proof of user error?).
    I requested that they email me the photo, before sending the phone back so that I could make a judgement (whilst still persisting in my requests to speak to an engineer).
    I was told that they will only send a photo if I decline repairs, end of.

    I am not just saying this for effect; it got to the point where the guy in the shop was frustrated and on my side. He said, “I’d hate it if I were in this situation, as I can see that you’ve got every right for an explanation of why you’d be needing to pay for repairs, but there’s nothing I can do – that’s just how Vodafone work and I don’t have any authority to help you.”

    It could almost be reasonable to suspect that Vodafone buy likely faulty or reject products on the super-cheap and then generate revenue by running extortion on repairs, deeming it ‘user error’.

    This is not the only dispute I’ve had with Vodafone. I terminated my line 5 months ago and recently received a bill from them for the past 5 months that I’ve not had a line (at £45 a month). They’re currently ‘looking into it’.

  3. The Sale of Goods most certainly does apply. Furthermore, warranty periods are trumped by the act. Goods are supposed to last a reasonable lifetime, and it is perfectly reasonable for you to expect that an electronic device would last 18 months or two years.

  4. In a Twitter conversation earlier, @CuriousIguana also dropped me this link – might be useful to others: https://www.gov.uk/consumer-protection-rights

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