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Apple broke my phone, replaced it, now it's broken

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Hi all,

 

Been lurking for a while but this is my first post. I need help!

 

I bought an iPhone 7 256GB in October 2016. I looked after it very well and it was in top condition, but given issues Apple had been having with their batteries, I chose to pick them up on a discounted battery replacement program. I brought the phone in to the Apple store on 31 December 2018. During the battery replacement, they apperently broke my phone beyond repair. The substitued it like for like in store (but still charged me for the new battery).

 

Today, 20/12/19, so less than a year later the phone developed a serious fault. I brought it in store and they informed me that an issue with the the "lightening connection, which is connected to the microphone and antenna". Essentially, I can no make telephone calls or listen to anything through the main phone microphone or wired speakers. They informed me that this cannot be repaired and I would have to buy a new phone, although they would give me a small amount for the old phone (up to £100). This does not suit me at all as I will be travelling next year and was not planning on doing so with a shiny new phone.

 

I pointed out to them that the phone was still in near mint condition, had not been dropped or damaged, and was therfore defective. I also pointed out to them that it was less than a year old as they had replaced it after breaking my previous phone. They stated to me (quite robustly, it has to be said), that they only offer a three month warrenty on replacement phones and there was nothing else they could do.

 

They said if I am unhappy with this, I should write to their office in Ireland (I wonder why?), but they won't move their position.

 

It's an unusual case. Clearly I bought the original phone just over three years ago, but I am seriously unhappy that they replacement phone they provided me with less than a year ago for something that is their own fault is defective.

 

Does anyobdy have any ideas as to whether I might have some form of recourse?

 

Any help much appreciated.

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Firstly, the "three-month warranty" on replacement phones is a load of rubbish. You are entitled to a full statutory rights which means that you are entitled to an item which is of satisfactory quality and remains that way for a reasonable period of time.

How much was the original iPhone?

The slightly complicating factor here is whether we consider that the replacement phone is essentially a continuation of the original iPhone purchase in October 2016 or whether it should be treated as a completely new contract so that the period of satisfactory quality runs from the date that it was provided to you which is presumably in January 2019.

I think that we should probably earlier on the worst possibility which is that it is a continuation and that the satisfactory quality. Runs from the date of original purchase in October 2016. I think that this view is probably helped by the fact that they charge you for the new battery – which is correct – but also is very good evidence that both of you – Apple and yourself considered that the duty to give you a replacement phone was based on the original purchase contract.

The fault was developed is clearly a very fundamental fault and has put the iPhone beyond use. Looking at the Internet I see that the price brand-new was about £750. So the question has to be whether a reasonable consumer would be prepared to pay £750 for a mobile phone which after three years broke down so fundamentally that it could no longer be used.
I think the answer to this has to be – No. If Apple tried to sell these phones and as part of their marketing told potential customers that the phone would last for only three years, nobody would buy them.

So on that basis I would say that there has been a breach of contract unless they want to argue that in some way you have broken it by some kind of misuse.

The next question is whether you are entitled to a replacement. You've had three years use out of the phone (the original and the replacement together). I think it would be unreasonable to expect a new replacement. Instead I think it would be reasonable to expect the replacement value of an iPhone 7 256 GB which is three years old. As far as I can see, a typical replacement would cost you about £300 in today's money.
So if you manage to get Apple to agree some kind of settlement with you then if they offered you £300 then this would be very fair. If you can persuade them to give anything more than that then you are doing well.

The question now becomes – what you want to do about it? You could complain to them and tell them that their three-month warranty is subject to the overriding statutory rights contained in the Consumer Rights Act. They will probably ignore you. I expect that they are very used to getting threats from people which are never carried out.

You would then have to consider taking a legal action against them in the Small Claims Court. Very easy to do – very cheap – and pretty well risk-free. Your problem course would be that Apple might want to say that the phone broke as a result of your abuse of it in some way. If this is the defence that they raised then I still think that you could win in court that your chances might not be better than 60%. However, given the ease of bringing an action and the limited risk in terms of costs, you might consider it worthwhile.

If they didn't raise this is a defence that simply tried to rely on the fact that there was a three-month warranty then your chances of success would be better than 95%.

And of course, given that to Apple – the amount of money that you are claiming is simply a drop in the ocean. Given the fact that you would be suing as a litigant in person so they would be obliged to travel to your local court to attend any hearing, there is a very good chance they would put their hands up.
But these are all risk factors which you need to take into consideration. If you decided to take this further then we will be happy to help you

 

By the way, I believe that you are dealing with them on the telephone. Is this correct? Because you have been here since 2008, this means that you will be well aware of the advice in our customer services guide and you will have recorded the call so that you have it on record that they are trying to rely on a three month warranty. This evidence will be very helpful. Of course it would be better if you could get it all in writing


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Thanks for the advice, Bankfodder.

 

The original phone came with a contract. Overall I probably paid around £900 for it, but it was paid for after 18 months, well before Apple broke it.

 

I was dealing with them in store. They ran a diagnostic and had it in their software. They said they would email the results and a transcript to me but didn’t. They tried to palm me off with writing to Ireland. (As a side note, they stopped me from taking a photo of their diagnostic as they claimed it was “proprietary software”. I was surprised at how robust the manager was with me).

 

This is annoying as they repeatedly admitted to me in store that the phone was in excellent condition and the fault was clearly a hardware issue and not a consequence of misuse or an accident. They also acknowledged the same for the original phone.

 

I have been to the small claims court before and reached satisfactory settlement, although the case was much more clear cut in my mind in that occasion. The problem I have is time as next year I am going to be abroad a lot hence why I didn’t want a shiny new £1,200 phone in the first place. I would quite happily do it if it was a swift process.

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Well it's unlikely to be a swift process. In any event send them an SAR and see what comes back.

If you could go back to the store with a recorder in your pocket and record a similar conversation then that will help enormously.

If you are unable to take a small claim action then I'm not sure what else to suggest. Of course you can go down the route of writing to them and complaining to them – but you are likely to hit a brick wall. Also, I would make it all happen very quickly. If you write an initial letter of complaint – which is a good idea then if you get no acceptable response by about 5 January then I would be sending them a letter of claim giving them 14 days. Then on day 15 I would send them the glad tidings of great joy.

As I have suggested already you could think about claiming the whole amount but the easiest way forward on this is to find a replacement value of a similar phone and then sue them for that. As I have already said I would expect and eventually to put their hands up but if they decide to go the distance then if you happen to be abroad at the wrong time it will cause a problem. At the very least you will need somebody in UK to be able to open your mail and to scan any documents to you so that there is pretty well no delay. You will have to trust very thoroughly for this. If you suddenly get an excuse that they were on holiday or they forgot et cetera then you could end up having the case dismissed if you haven't responded correctly


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