Do you know your rights to repair for mobile phones?

We are running an exciting new campaigning project on mobile phone repairs. We will be researching the services locally and working to ensure consumers are aware of their rights.

What to do if you have a problem with a mobile phone handset

  • If your new or second hand mobile phone breaks, does not work as it is supposed to or does not match the seller’s description, you may legally be entitled to a refund, repair or replacement from a trade supplier.
  • If the handset develops a problem early on, you have 30 days to return it for a full refund, and if you agree to a repair, the 30 day period is interrupted while the repair is carried out.  You get the rest of the 30 days after getting the handset back or 7 days, whichever is longer. You will have to show that the problem was there when you were supplied with the handset.
  • Alternatively, you could agree to a free repair or a replacement, and for the first 6 months if the supplier does not believe that there was a problem when it was first provided, they will have to show that you caused the damage yourself.
  • If both a repair or a replacement are possible, then it is a question of balancing how long each would take and how much inconvenience each would cause against how much it would cost the supplier to provide each one, bearing in mind your preference.  
  • If the repair or replacement are not successful or there is a further problem, you still have up to 6 months to ask for a full refund and after that time, a partial refund to take account of any use you have had from the handset. Alternatively, you can keep the handset and agree to an appropriate deduction to reflect what is wrong with it.
  • If your phone forms part of a service contract, your claim would be against your service provider, for example EE.  However, if it was purchased on its own, without any monthly contract, then it is the retailer, for example Carphone Warehouse, and not the service provider, who is responsible for dealing with your complaint.
  • Guarantees and warranties add to your legal rights, especially if the item was bought abroad and the manufacturer is based in the UK, or the retailer has gone out of business, but they do not usually offer refunds and are often limited to a short period of time.
  • If the phone was paid for by either credit or debit card you may be able to ask your card provider to raise a “Chargeback” on your behalf so that the transaction can be reversed and you usually have 120 days to do this.
  • Alternatively, if the phone was paid for with a credit card and cost more than £100, contact the credit card company who may be jointly liable with the retailer.
  • If the handset or service provider cannot resolve the issue to your satisfaction then, after exhausting your provider’s internal complaints procedure you can escalate your complaint to an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) body, after a certain time period, usually around 8 weeks.
  • Mobile phone service providers must belong to one of two telecoms ADR schemes – CISAS or Ombudsman Services: communications. Sellers of handsets do not have to belong to an ADR scheme, but they do have to: confirm that they have not been able to sort out your problem,  provide the name and website of an approved ADR scheme if you want to use one and let you know whether they are willing to use it
  • It may be possible to take your claim to court, but ADR must be tried first and any court action must be started within 6 years.


The above is a summary. If you require further information or have any questions on your rights as a consumer or require assistance with any of the above, contact Chiltern Citizens Advice on 01494 545991, or call the Citizens Advice consumer service helpline on 03454 040506.





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