Banging your head against a brick wall’ is a phrase which readily trips off the tongue of many frustrated Streetwise readers.
What really gets their goat is familiar high street stores quibbling and stonewalling, or worse still ignoring them completely.
Portsmouth readers Jon and Suzi Winter were one such couple. They soon became fed up to the back teeth with the nation’s top retailer Tesco, after they were sold a faulty phone that went on the blink only a month or so after they bought it.
Last July, Jon discovered their Apple phone wasn’t charging properly. He thought it was a fault with the charger lead so he replaced it. The phone then worked normally for a short while, then packed up altogether.
He took it back to the Tesco store where they agreed it was defective and they’d send it off for repair. To his astonishment a couple of weeks later he received a letter saying the phone was out of warranty and demanding £194 to repair it.
Not best pleased, Jon rang Tesco repairs to ask how the phone could have been out of warranty when he’d returned it to be examined for a fault just three months after he’d bought it. He was told when the phone’s outer case was removed there was a small chip on the screen, implying misuse.
Because the chip wasn’t visible Jon rightly asked how were they so sure it wasn’t there when he bought it, but that question was only answered by Tesco repeating the phone was out of warranty.
He was then passed on to Tesco’s ‘customer concerns’ department who were unable to provide any evidence of misuse. Jon then rang trading standards to find out precisely what the rules were when people were sold faulty goods.
He learned that because he’d reported the fault and returned the phone within six months of buying it, Tesco was legally obliged to provide proof the phone wasn’t faulty at the time of purchase. The buck stopped with them.
More to the point, he couldn’t understand why Tesco’s concerns staff didn’t appear to have a clue about their customers’ statutory rights. That left him with little option but to write to head office to say the phone clearly wasn’t fit for purpose and he’d take them to court.
But if he thought telling Tesco of his intention to sue them for breach of contract would make them sit up and take notice, he was mistaken. Despite addressing his letter correctly and sending it recorded delivery, to his disgust it wasn’t even acknowledged.
When he tried once more to engage someone from the company to help him resolve his complaint, Jon says he was told Tesco didn’t have to prove anything, and they’d do that in court if they had to.
He then decided to email Tesco top boss Phillip Clarke. When that didn’t obtain a response he tried their Facebook and Twitter pages. But all his exhortations were to no avail.
Realising he’d reached the end of the road of his David and Goliath battle with Tesco he emailed Streetwise to ask if we would take up his case.
Once we got to work a resolution was soon on the cards. A Tesco Mobile spokesman told us: ‘We’re extremely sorry to hear Mr and Mrs Winter are unhappy with the service they received. In line with our terms and conditions, if a handset is sent in for a repair with a cracked or damaged screen then it does invalidate the manufacturer warranty. Photographic evidence of the cracked screen was taken on its arrival at the repair centre.
‘We’ve reviewed this particular instance and as the crack was not visible externally, the customer may have been unaware the damage had been caused.
‘We always do our best to provide clear information to our customers and we should have communicated more helpfully. Therefore as a gesture of goodwill we will be replacing the handset and will advise Mr and Mrs Winter of this.’
A grateful Jon said: ‘Thank you for your help. After several months of banging our heads against walls it’s a welcome relief from the frustration of dealing with a complaints service which made no effort to solve the problem.’