Most consumers are aware that they're entitled to have goods replaced if they prove faulty early in their life after purchase, but just how long does that period last? In the case of Vodafone and mobile phones, the answer now turns out to be "more than two weeks" thanks to an ACCC court ruling that should help everyone who owns a mobile phone.
The ACCC has sought and received court enforceable undertakings from Vodafone that it will not automatically tell consumers that they are entitled only to a repair on faulty phones any time two weeks after purchase, a policy apparently adopted by some 3 stores prior to its merger with Vodafone and one which violates the Trade Practices Act.
The decision is interesting even if you're not a Vodafone customer, as it essentially defines reasonable periods for demanding a replacement phone (as opposed to a repair) when things go wrong. Vodafone has agreed to the following conditions:
- Provide replacements (rather than repairs) for Nokia, Apple, BlackBerry and INQ phones that fail within the first 28 days
- Provide an express repair warranty for the life of any service contract on phones from the same manufacturers, excluding Apple
- Provide an express repair warranty for 24 months for active prepaid customers who have acquired their phone from Vodafone
- Provide a replacement loan phone for customers and ensure repairs are completed in a timely manner
The deal is in place for three years. The exclusion of Apple phones sticks out a little, but likely reflects Apple's own warranty frequent "replace rather than repair" policy on many hardware faults.
The ACCC is keen to see other providers offer similar arrangements, especially in terms of warranty life. As chairman Graeme Samuel put it: "It is simply not good enough that a customer is tied into a service contact for two years when the retailer is only promising to fix a faulty mobile phone for the first 12 months."