The iPhone, Blackberry and most of their competitors come with a one-year warranty. After that, anyone with a longer contract (most now last 18 months or even two years) need to approach their network if a phone breaks and it’s not the user’s fault.
Which? consumer advisers say shoppers should first approach retailers. “Describe the fault and ask them to supply a replacement or arrange to have your phone repaired.”
Step two is to put the complaint in writing. “Write saying that under the Sale of Goods Act, the mobile phone is not of ‘satisfactory quality’ and you are exercising your right to have it repaired or replaced. Tell the retailer that if it doesn’t arrange to do either of these within a reasonable time, you will start proceedings in the small claims court.”
If you paid with a credit card and it cost more than £100, one alternative is to approach your card provider, as the small claims court will trigger a fee if the case is lost.
Contacting a network can be a last resort: most will demand a repair fee - but experts say it’s worth trying to argue using the Sale of Goods Act (1979). This gives shoppers the right to a replacement or repair of goods that are not ‘fit for purpose’ up to six years after bought.
Further options are claiming under house insurance, if appropriate, or via paid-for current accounts which often include mobile phone insurance (or indeed standalone cover).
When buying a pricey phone, investigate whether insurance may be worthwhile. AppleCare’s iPhone plan costs £61 for a further year’s repair and technical support. Networks also offer their own deals, although these tend to be pricier and only worthwhile for the most accident-prone.
In the meantime, keep the phone away from the loo. No one will pay out in that situation: it’s just money down the drain.