Loyal 3 phone network customer Mandy Finlayson was disgusted with the phone giant’s customer service after it repeatedly refused to replace her faulty contract phone.
The Gosport-based garment distributor was seething after she was offered the choice of paying £80 towards a phone upgrade or returning it for a repair to Samsung for the fourth time.
It was so frustrating having the same conversation over and over again because I knew I was in the rightMandy Finlayson
The Samsung Galaxy contract phone had been nothing but trouble since she signed up for it almost two years earlier.
It wasn’t long after she started using it that it developed an annoying audio problem. It was so bad that she had difficulty hearing and understanding callers, so she promptly returned it to the firm’s Fareham shop to get it fixed.
She was told that, as the phone was under Samsung’s manufacturing guarantee, it would have to go back to the firm to be repaired.
A week or so later the phone was returned and for a while all was well – until it started playing up. The same annoying fault put the phone out of action for a second time.
Despite having had three other phones with the same network, Mandy was soon to discover that her loyalty appeared to count for nothing.
Mandy 49, was prepared to accept that modern smartphones are complex electrical bits of kit, but when the dud phone went wrong with exactly the same fault for a third time, her patience was wearing thin.
Instead of calling it a day and providing a replacement, the story was the same each time it developed the fault – 3 insisted it would have to be sent back to Samsung for yet another repair.
Not only was Mandy considerably inconvenienced by being unable to take important calls, she was understandably fed up to the back teeth traipsing backwards and forwards to the shop.
Then with just eight months left on the contract to run, the phone went wrong again. This time she was determined not to be given the runaround.
However, when she contacted the firm’s customer services with her complaint she met the same brick wall. The only concession it was prepared to make was a half-price phone upgrade at a cost of £80.
Mandy said: ‘I was told that the phone had to be sent off at least three times before Samsung would class it as being a complaint, so I had to go through that process. But after the third time I thought something would change.
‘Everybody I spoke to, all my friends who have got phones, said I was mad. They said to just go back to the shop and kick off and they’d give me another phone.
‘I can be quite blunt when I need to be, but I wasn’t prepared to go to the shop to start shouting and swearing because that just wasn’t going to get me anywhere.
‘When I read a Streetwise column about consumer rights, I went back to the shop and said they had to sort it out. But they insisted it was all to do with Samsung and I needed to register my complaint with them. They just weren’t interested.’
‘It was so frustrating having the same conversation over and over again because I knew I was in the right. I swapped networks to go with them, so I felt pretty gutted to be honest.’
Angry and upset about the firm’s apparent lack of empathy and indifferent service, Mandy decided to call into the Gosport Discovery Centre’s regular Streetwise consumer surgery to get chapter and verse about her consumer rights.
We confirmed that the practice of hiding behind a manufacturer’s guarantee for the faulty phone was nothing more than a cop-out.
Small wonder she was hopping mad. To expect her to pay £80 for a replacement just added insult to injury as it amounted to an unfair penalty for the firm’s breach of contract.
Because she’d repeatedly been given the cold shoulder treatment by the 3 network, Streetwise agreed to intervene and asked for an explanation.
We pointed out that the law was on Mandy’s side. Without a shadow of doubt 3 was directly responsible for ensuring she had a reliable working phone – not Samsung. It was also not entitled to insist on multiple repair options.
Then, with commendable speed, 3 sprang into action. Within a couple of days Mandy received a call from the firm apologising profusely for the way she’d been treated.
A spokesperson said: ‘We are happy to confirm that the customer has been offered, and accepted, a free-of-charge upgrade and that the matter has now been resolved. ‘
Mandy was over the moon, but felt that she’d been let down by the company for far too long.
‘I know,’ she said, ‘that if Streetwise hadn’t intervened I’d have got nowhere and I’d have ended up having to keep my knackered phone for the next eight months until my contract ran out because there was nowhere else for me to go.
‘They would have just kept saying you either pay for the upgrade or send it off again.
‘A huge thank you to you for taking this case on for me and insisting they do what they legally should have done to start with.’