Ross Biggs found himself backed into a corner when his brand new Samsung mobile went on the blink a few weeks after signing up to a new two-year contract with phone provider 3.
The 38-year-old self-employed driver from Waterlooville had been a loyal 3 customer for 11 years, but found it counted for nothing when the water-resistant S7 smartphone he signed up for was declared uneconomic to repair because of moisture penetration.
Ross told Streetwise he occasionally takes himself off fishing.
So when the time came for contract renewal, he switched to the Samsung because it was advertised as being a ‘go everywhere’ phone water-resistant to 1.5 metres.
But barely four weeks into the £50-a-month contract and precisely zero fishing expeditions later, the phone let him down.
Ross noticed the sealed ‘go everywhere’ phone wasn’t charging properly. Gradually it developed a marked reluctance to charge up at all.
Messages started to come up on the screen indicating water penetration and the rear casing got so hot in the process the phone was literally unusable.
A dismayed Ross said: ‘I’d only used it for work, where it was kept in my pocket unless I needed to make a phone call or so.
‘When it wouldn’t charge I immediately assumed it must be something to do with the battery. But because it was a sealed unit I couldn’t get to it. I couldn’t get it out to cool it down or anything like that.
‘I took it back to the store in Fareham and they gave me Samsung’s phone number to arrange for it to be sent back to them.
‘After about a week they returned the phone with a letter explaining they’d discovered moisture had got into the phone’s charging point and they weren’t prepared to repair it because it wasn’t covered by the two-year warranty.’
Ross couldn’t believe this and promptly marched back to the 3 store to ask what they were prepared to do about his dud contract phone.
He claims his concerns were dismissed by one of the firm’s staff with a shrug of the shoulders and without explanation.
An angry Ross understandably felt short-changed and wasn’t prepared to take the matter lying down.
What got up his nose was that no-one from the firm appeared to be the slightest bit interested.
He’d been left in a clearly absurd situation where he had no working phone, but an ongoing obligation to pay £1,200 in line rental over the next two years.
Undaunted, he got on to the firm’s customer services who simply said he should have insured it, then played pass the parcel and referred him back to Samsung.
All the company was prepared to do was to refer the matter back to its technical department to confirm the diagnosis.
Samsung made it crystal clear in an e-mail that there was little or no chance the refusal to replace or repair the phone under guarantee would be overturned.
Ross realised he was getting nowhere with 3 or Samsung apart from going around in ever-decreasing circles.
He badly needed a phone for work, so he asked his dad whether he could borrow his mobile while he explored the limited options left open to him.
He reluctantly worked through them and decided that cancelling the contract by taking a massive one-off hit in the wallet was a solution he just couldn’t afford.
Finding around £550 to buy a replacement S7 phone was dismissed for the same reason.
He reluctantly came down to the only realistic choice left open to him.
Just buy a cheap mobile and put up with an inferior phone and service until the contract ran out.
But dad unexpectedly came up with another solution. A regular reader of Streetwise, he put Ross on to us to ask if we could intervene to get the impasse sorted.
We put his story to phone provider 3, asserting that Ross had been left in limbo with a situation not of his making.
Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 it’s always the seller of goods or services, not the manufacturer, that should sort out any problems.
It had landed him with a totally unacceptable choice of a whopping financial penalty and a grossly downgraded service which was a significant breach of contract.
Once we brought the matter to the firm’s attention, a spokesperson agreed to investigate and get back to us.
Within a few days a much-relieved Ross was given the news he’d battled to hear over many weeks.
The spokesperson said: ‘We are happy to confirm that the customer’s phone has been replaced and that the matter has now been resolved.’
A grateful Ross was overjoyed that the matter had finally been sorted so quickly.
‘If it hadn’t been for Streetwise’s help,’ he said ‘I’m sure I wouldn’t have been offered a new phone.
‘I couldn’t have managed it by myself. Thanks so much for what you did. It’s greatly appreciated.’