On the 01/04/2012 my beloved iPhone 4 suddenly ceased to operate due to a technical battery fault (Confirmed by O2), this is my story (So Far) of how O2 showed and continues to show a complete disregard / ignorance for the UK’s Sale Of Goods Act (1979).
What Is The Sale Of Goods Act?
On 17/10/2010 I purchased an iPhone 4 16GB from O2 / Telefonica UK, Unit 8A, The Forge Shopping Centre, Glasgow on a 24 month contract for the price £153.99 and 24 monthly payments of £36. On the 01/04/2012 whilst trying to answer a phone call the phone failed and its screen turned black and was completely unresponsive.
My first port of call was trying a hard reset on the phone which is achieved by holding down the sleep / wake button along with the home button for 20 seconds to 2 minutes at the same time. No success and unfortunately the phone was still dead.
Secondly I tried connecting the phone to a charger and repeating the same procedure above, alas yet again still no success and the phone was still dead.
The last throw of the dice was to connect the phone to iTunes via USB and hope that iTunes recognised the phone; still no luck, it was official the phone was now dead as some internal part had obviously failed.
The phone is in fantastic condition as it’s always been in a shock proof case which was purchased with the phone along with screen protectors being renewed every 3 months, it has never been mistreated, has no scratches, no water damage sensors are activated and has truthfully never once been dropped. In fact the phone could be classed as being lightly used as I have 600mins talk time per month and in all the time it’s been owned has never seen more that 90mins being used per month if that with calls. I very rarley play games on the phone and don’t watch movies although I do listen to music in the car occasionally.
I also followed apples own battery advice on charging which is quoted below since I took ownership of the phone.
For proper maintenance of a lithium-based battery, it’s important to keep the electrons in it moving occasionally. Be sure to go through at least one charge cycle per month (charging the battery to 100% and then completely running it down).
That’s the background of my phone covered and now begins the nightmare of dealing with O2 and its staff regarding technical failures outside of apples 12 month standard warranty when quoting the Sale Of Goods Act (1979).
My first step was to visit the O2 store where I purchased the phone from in Glasgow and ask them for some assistance, immediately I was told by an in store assistant that the phone was out of apple warranty and that it would need to be sent away for repair and the failure be assessed by their engineers (Anovo UK). I was also informed at this time that as the phone was out of warranty I would be provided with a quote to repair the phone, this is when I quoted under consumer law the “Sale Of Goods Act 1979” as I felt the phone was not of satisfactory quality; not fit for purpose and did not last a reasonable amount of time to which the response was “I don’t know if that law covers mobile handsets”.
This was the response I was expecting as usually in store assistants from most high street retailers are less than familiar with The Sale Of Goods Act, also I must state at this point that the in store assistant was very helpful and pleasant to deal with if more than a little misinformed about consumer law.
Surely it’s a reasonable assumption though that a product on a 24 month contract should easily last the length of that contract if cared for properly as mine was? Trading Standards Scotland agree that for an item of over £400 in value 24 months is not an unreasonable assumption.
The next day I drafted up a Sale Of Goods Act letter and personally delivered it to the Glasgow store giving them 7 days to reply to my complaint. The letter was addressed to the store manager and was handed to the same in store assistant in person by myself to be passed on. It was also verbally indicated to me at this time by the in store assistant that if the repair was not due to damage caused by me that there would be no charge for repair.
You can see a copy of that very letter below; I have blanked out my address and phone number etc. for obvious reasons. Please feel free to edit and reuse this letter if you wish.
When the phone failed I had an idea that it would be a power related problem as the phone was dead and wouldn’t even charge from the mains etc. Now I just had to wait for the O2 / Anovo UK engineers however to report their findings on the fault which had suddenly caused my phone to fail completely.
Forward to 05/04/2012 and the O2 / Anovo UK report came back as the phone had suffered a battery failure; hence the phone would not power up and had died suddenly. Also they worryingly reported scratch damage to the phone? The phone was not scratched in anyway before being put in for repair so this was a less than ideal reply. As I do not currently have the phone I cannot as yet confirm the severity of the scratches they are now referring to in the repair quote for a battery replacement which was for the sum of £119.95.
I phoned the O2 store to get confirmation of the report as the details of the fault were sketchy at best, it was confirmed in a phone call back to me that the battery had failed and the handset was scratched.
I once again quoted the Sale Of Goods Act to the assistant and was told once again about the 12 month apple warranty and my phone being outside this warranty and I was to contact apple. I referred to the letter I had sent and that my contact is with O2 and not apple therefore O2 were responsible under the Sale Of Goods Act and not the manufacturer ie Apple. The 12 month Apple warranty is in addition to my statutory rights, it does not replace them as O2 and its staff would seem to imply or try to have consumer’s incorrectly believe.
Once again I was told the warranty had expired and to take the matter up with apple directly. This is where I asked to speak with the in store manager who was on duty.
Speaking to the in store manager once again turned into a too and fro conversation about Sale Of Goods Act vs Apples Expired 12 month Warranty with the manager claiming she understood the Sale Of Goods Act completely yet was still protesting O2 held no responsibility and I was to contact Apple which would indicated she did not understand the Sale Of Goods Act in anyway shape or form. A shocking turn in events then occurred in the form of because I had seeked 3rd party advice and spoken with trading standards the manager then said she could no longer speak or deal with me and I was to call O2’s legal department for all further communications relating to my complaint.
Basically because I had researched and clarified my Statutory Rights I was now being penalised and brushed off to O2’s customer service centre which was the so called number for their legal department she had given me 0844 809 0202. This number was in fact not their legal department but a standard uk call centre number.
Not wanting to give up and being slightly peeved that the store manager was ignoring my Sale Of Goods Act requests and belittling my and 3rd party professionals knowledge of the legislation I called their call centre out of interest.
After a long wait listening to terrible pop music presumably played loud to encourage you to give up waiting in their queue I eventually got through to an advisor who I explained my situation to. Unfortunately the said advisor was unable to help and passed me through to another department where I waited once again in a short queue with mind numbing loud pop music.
Eventually I got to speak to an advisor who listened to my complaint in full including my Sale Of Goods Act complaint and a complaint against the in store manager. As soon as I had stopped talking I was once again told that Apple only have a 12 month warranty. I once again outlined the Sale Of Goods Act and explained clearly and politely that although the item was indeed out with Apples 12 month warranty I was complaining under the sale of goods act which holds the retailer NOT the manufacturer responsible.
This conversation went back and forth for around 20 minutes with no progress and a complete disregard / ignorance for consumer law on any level always reverting to you would need to speak with apple directly sir as your phone is out of warranty.
The operator then agreed to speak with her supervisor regarding my complaint and you guessed it 5 minutes later she came back and said “I’m sorry as your phone is out of warranty you will need to contact Apple Directly”. Adding we do understand the law and always work with in it; when O2 have proven time and time again that they obviously do not understand the Sale Of Goods Act legislation and certainly do not act within it even with Sale Of Goods Act requests submitted in writing.
Not one person I have spoken with thus far within the O2 Corporation has acknowledged that the Sale Of Goods Act (1979) legislation relates to the retailer and not the manufacturer. Each person refutes the fact and fobs me off with the standard reply of I’m sorry sir you will need to take the issue up with Apple directly as your warranty has expired.
So what happens now?
Well firstly I really require my phone back so I have been forced to pay for the repair to have it returned in working order in a timely fashion.
Secondly I am awaiting a written response from O2 regarding my Sale Of Goods Act Letter to which they have 7 days to reply. If this response is not forthcoming I will send another letter registered post requesting that the once again reply within 7 days.
When I receive a written reply from head office I will then proceed as I see fit whether that be further action via legal channels to reclaim the repair fee if they still refuse to acknowledge / reply to Sale Of Goods Act letters. I will also be reporting O2 to Trading Standards, Ofcom, Otelo & Cisas due to them breaching UK consumer law by ignoring the Sale Of Goods Act requests and complaints that have been submitted and verbally discussed with numerous O2 employee’s.
During this whole fiasco I have been composed and polite never losing my temper simply stating the facts over and over again. What I have learned so far is that if you’re going to become an O2 contract customer and you have a problem during your contract term be prepared for a long haul and possibly court action to resolve complaints which as a consumer you have the right to exercise under your statutory rights.
Also never seek 3rd party advice or speak with Trading Standards, Citizens Advice Bureau and actually admit this to O2 as like me you will most probably be penalised for having the audacity to research and exercise your statutory consumer rights against them.
Some of you reading this may think that hold on a minute your phone is 16 months old and your battery failed live with it. This is not about length of time it’s about O2 failing to recognise UK legislation in any way, shape or form and fobbing off customers to manufacturer when it is O2 themselves that are responsible. Whether the phone is repaired or not is not the issue here, the complete disregard / ignorance and refuting that the Sale Of Goods Act (1979) actually applies to O2 like as I does any other retailer located in the uk is the main gripe.
As soon as I receive any more information I will write another post detailing the outcome or progress of this unfortunate incident.
I have also since researched and discovered that Apples official battery replacement costs are far less than I have been charged O2’s repair company Anovo UK.
A Battery Replacement Service arranged through Apple UK costs only £55.00 compared to O2’s extortionate £119.95. A £7.44 shipping fee will be added if you arrange service online or by calling Apple Technical Support. All fees are in British Pound Sterling and include VAT
You can aslo find some details of this post over at the official O2 community forums http://community.o2.co.uk/t5/Pay-Monthly/O2-Immune-To-Sale-Of-Goods-Act-1979-amended/td-p/219747