Phone warranty voided by "water damage"? Here's what to do about it
Let's be honest folks. Plenty of us tell fibs when we're caught out. One of the more common is "I've no idea how that happened" whether we're referring to the smashed vase or the naked person in bed that isn't the one we're married to.
Or the mobile phone that's been dunked in the toilet / bath / fifth pint of Stella. Phone retailers refuse free repairs to handsets "contaminated by a liquid" as it voids the warranty, but it's probably fair to say that many of us try our luck anyway.
But what if you're adamant your phone's never had an unexpected wash? Some sites mention indicator stickers within the phone casing (both visible and invisible) that change colour when exposed to water (or even moisture), though nobody seems sure what level of exposure triggers a colour change. And while the retailer may void your warranty, they rarely provide a scrap of proof other than a one sentence explanation.
Guess we have to take the man's word for it, right? Well, maybe you don't. We've got a plan, and we'd like your help to see if it works.
If your mobile goes on the fritz within six months of purchase and you're sure it's never been exposed to liquid, then the good news is you've got the law on your side. The Sales of Good Act states that if a consumer chooses to request a repair or replacement, then for the first six months after purchase it will be for the retailer to prove the goods did conform to contract.
In other words, it's not enough for the retailer to void your warranty by simply blaming liquid contamination; they have to prove that the fault didn't exist when the phone was sold. The real-world interpretation is that the retailer has to provide evidence that liquid is responsible for the fault.
With this in mind, here's what we suggest, with some tips from Mobot;
- Submit your phone for repair through the usual channels.
- If you're told your phone can't be repaired due to liquid contamination, politely ask for proof, given that you don't recall any incident that might have caused it. You may be told that while a report about your phone was created, you're not allowed to see it. Hmmph.
- Start quoting the law; point out that the Sales of Goods Act means the retailer must provide evidence that the fault was caused by liquid and not an existing fault. The retailer's recourse might be to say the law isn't applicable because the cause is established; don't swallow it - any proof has to be shared for the cause to be established. That's what established means, see.
- If you still get nowhere, threaten action in a small claims court, in which you seek to recoup the cost of a new handset or the cost of cancelling the contract. After all, you either need a replacement handset or you have to cancel the contract so you can begin another.
- At this point, the retailer should be keen to provide evidence of the liquid damage or offer some sort of olive branch. No company in their right mind will hire legal representation to the tune of several thousand pounds to settle a disputed repair. Don't quote us on that, though.
- If they make good with the proof and your phone has indeed been for a swim, then it's time for stern words with the kids. If not, then decide how far you want to take it. Remember that the burden of proof is on the retailer, and that it shouldn't take court action to have them provide you with evidence of the fault; the law states they have to do so.
If you've first-hand experience of tackling retailers over the matter, leave a comment and let us know how you fared. Is there really a conspiracy amongst retailers or do we all need to be a little more honest with ourselves?
Photo by BigPru on Flickr. Some rights reserved.