ACCC forces Vodafone Hutchison to change warranty policies

The ACCC has accepted undertakings from Vodafone Hutchison to amend its mobile phone replacement policies.

The ACCC claimed that by only offering consumers handset repair as an option for faulty phones, it was likely to be breaching the Trade Practices Act. Under the old policies, consumers were only entitled to a replacement phone if the fault was reported within the first 14 days after purchase.

"Hutchison created an untenable situation where consumers with 15 day old faulty mobile phones were told they were only entitled to a repair," ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel said.  

"Suppliers of goods and services need to realise the Trade Practices Act implies certain statutory rights into consumer contracts.  Mobile phone retailers need to know that often consumers’ statutory rights will extend beyond the manufacturers’ warranties.

"Statutory rights give consumers a basic, guaranteed level of protection for goods and services they acquire and such rights cannot be excluded or limited by suppliers. In fact, any representation by a supplier which seeks to limit the statutory rights available to consumers is illegal," said ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel.

Vodafone Hutchison has agreed to comply with the following for the next three years:

-Extend the ‘early life failure’ period during which replacement mobile phones are provided to consumers for faulty mobile phones manufactured by Nokia, Apple, INQ and Research in Motion (Blackberry) from 14 days to 28 days after purchase

-Provide all customers who acquired a mobile phone (except for mobile phones manufactured by Apple) in conjunction with a service contract on or after 1 December 2009 an express repair warranty for the entire length of the customers’ service contract.  That means a customer on a 24 month service contract will receive free unlimited repairs if their handset is faulty for the entire two year period

-Provide all active pre-paid customers who acquired their handset on or after 1 January 2010 an express repair warranty for 24 months

-Provide all active pre-paid customers who purchased their mobile phone prior to 31 December 2009 an express repair warranty for a period of 12 months from date of purchase

-Take all reasonable steps to provide a loan phone to customers while their faulty phones are being repaired, and

-Take all reasonable steps to ensure repairs are completed in a timely manner.

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