Consumer Rights Dispute with Major Retailer outside of Warranty for Smartphone

Afternoon OzBargainers, OzBargainlawyers and general speculators,

I know some of you like a good dispute thread (not as exciting as traffic violations or financial advice however, sorry).

Background:

Purchased a budget smartphone for my partner in Feb 2020, which had a 1-year-warranty.

In March 2021 the charging port starting playing up, resulting in the occasional empty battery when they woke up in the morning, which got worse and worse over time. Now the charging cable has to be pushed down about 50% of the time to charge the phone, the other 50% time randomly it charges ok (tried multiple wall plugs, chargers and cables). The charging port at the bottom of the phone is very loose.

When reporting this to the major retailer in March 2021, they just stated "Out of warranty, too bad can't help you". As I complained (polite but firm) the manager offered to send the device to the manufacturer for review. If I was found to have caused the issue, however, I was going to be responsible for possible repair / review cost (they wouldn't / couldn't tell me how much it was going to be).

As I was confident that it's a product failure I decided to proceed, but when handing in I discovered that the size of the phone frame has a hairline-crack to which the retailer representative stated that I would definitely have to pay for review / repair. I decided to not pursue this any further at this stage.

My partner said the crack in the frame occurred shortly after I purchased the phone due to dropping it, which makes me think that it would / should not be related to the charging issue, as it has been working fine for almost a whole year.

I know that matters like this are not necessarily about the truth, but what you can prove.

Does anyone have an idea on how to proceed with this one?

TLDR: Budget smartphone one month out of manufacturer warranty had repair rejected by retailer, partially due to unrelated damage.

Update 1:

Thanks everyone for the feedback, I greatly appreciate your insights. Due to the risk of having to foot a repair bill I will not pursue this further at this stage.

If interested, here's a photo of the damage

Poll Options

  • 243
    Cop it on the chin
  • 12
    Pursue with repair option of the retailer and refer to your consumer rights
  • 4
    Other - see below for comment

Comments

  • +4 votes

    Feb 2020, which had a 1-year-warranty.
    In March 2021 the charging port starting playing up
    Budget smartphone

    Well planned, unfortunate for you.

    My partner said the crack in the frame occurred shortly after I purchased the phone due to dropping it

    I’ll put blame on the partner for hiding this for so long!!

    Does anyone have an idea on how to proceed with this one?

    Time for an upgrade. Again manufacturer timed this well.

  • What do you want at the end of this? New phone? Current phone repaired? Ferrari? MSPaint diagram?

    If you have an idea of outcome maybe we can help you get there tell you you're dreamin'.

    • I'd like to get the phone repaired or replaced. I feel that a smartphone should last longer than 12 months.

      I don't want to fork out money for a repair however, might as well buy a new budget a phone if it comes to this.

      • I feel that a smartphone should last longer than 12 months

        It should…

        budget smartphone

        … but you get what you pay for.

        I'd like to get the phone repaired or replaced.

        So you have a 1yo budget smartphone, out of "warranty" with a crack on the side and a loose charging port? And you expect the retailer to repair or replace it.

        The drop that caused the crack, and the likely others that didn't cause visible damage, are good contenders for the cause of the loose charging port. As is your potentially poor precision when inserting/removing the charging cable. How clean is the charging port?

        I don't want to fork out money for a repair however, might as well buy a new budget a phone if it comes to this.

        This is why you're getting refused on warranty.

  • No point claiming warranty on damage electronics, they’ll always blame the existing damage

    • +1 vote

      Yes, armchair expert on electronics damage vs manufacturer that made the product. Strong case going to court…

  • Sounds like user error,
    Charging ports can very easily get damaged if something is caught/jammed in it or the cable is inserted incorrectly.
    If its a budget phone then i'd just accept it.

    Plus the fact it's been dropped kind of indicates that the normal operational conditions have been exceeded which would exempt the manufacturer from the warranty claim. (even if it was a year before)

    Retailers aren't there to repair your used goods.

    • Absolutely this. If it is damaged, internally or externally, your warranty is void.

      • Not quite true. I used to work for Apple and ACCC and Fair Trading were quite strict on this: if the part that failed is not connected to the damaged part, you cannot refuse statutory warranties. An example would be in the battery failed on an iPhone but it also had a lightly cracked screen. One has nothing to do with the other. The issue was due to the way iPhones are repaired by taking the front screen off, if the screen is cracked it would likely totally break to bits during the repair process. We'd usually try to charge the customer to replace the screen at their cost, but often they'd refuse and we'd have to either fix both for free or replace the whole phone instead.

        Anyway it's like a car. You can't deny warranty on the engine because there's a light dent on the bumper. As long as the issues are not connected, warranty and statutory rights still apply.

        • what year was that?

          • @petry: I was there between 2011 to mid 2017, so I was around during the iPhone 6 battery fiasco that wasn't properly acknowledged until the end of that year. But we were seeing LOTS of failed batteries and plenty of them were on devices with cracked screens. Acknowledged fault (and the ensuing battery replacement program) trumps any damage though.

            • @ImpulsePie: well the broken screens were an international issue, and thats 4 years ago.

              the accc are effectively dead as far as consumers are concerned, and there's bugger all else.

              both major parties hate consumer rights.

              • @petry: Same principle though. If the device has a proven defect not related to damage then a retailer/manufacturer can't deny coverage under ACL. The onus is on the manufacturer to prove that any damage caused the issue. A tiny hairline fracture on an otherwise well looked after device is not enough.

                I agree that the ACCC are useless on the consumer front. They only like to investigate large issues and class action style stuff. Still, whenever you have an issue with a retailer or manufacturer that is dodging ACL it's always a good idea to complain to the ACCC as even though they might not actually get back to you, they collect data on all these cases and if they see enough similar complaints they might take action.

                Fair Trading is the much more consumer friendly route to go down. I've recently used their services to force Samsung to fix an issue with tablet that that were initially denying coverage for, helped get me the result I wanted in the end.

                • @ImpulsePie: 'might' is wishful thinking and achieves nothing - the accc don't keep proper stats.

                  fair trading is entirely state and politically orientated, if there is one with more than 2 staff and a closet sized office.

                  • @petry: I mean the ACCC have take action before and even fined Apple $9 million for refusing to fix iPhones with the "error 53" issue when they had a third party screen repair done: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/jun/19/apple-fin...

                    Apple had to make a lot of internal changes after that to policy to better uphold guarantees under ACL.

                    • @ImpulsePie: yeah and apple are still screwing people over … they give away more than that every year to murdoch… and the giveaways keep rising..

                      • @petry: Yep. There's a reason they're the second most valuable company in the world. They've screwed over A LOT of people to get there and will continue to do so until more people hold them accountable.

                        • @ImpulsePie: which will never be australia's accc

                        • @ImpulsePie: Is the reason that they sell products that are in demand at a price the market will accept and those two factors are positioned such that their products are more desirable than those sold by their competitors?

                          • @GrueHunter: Don't get me wrong, many Apple products are pretty good, but in terms of marketshare % to revenue Apple have developed a brand cult status symbol and charge according. Almost all their products are overpriced for what they are.

                            In terms of repairs, an iPhone 12 Pro display costs about $70USD in parts yet they charge $439+ AUD to replace one out of warranty. Even taking all business costs into account they're still charging too much and are a) making WAY too much profit on repairs and b) making repair prices prohibitive enough that they can convince people to upgrade instead, giving Apple even more money. This is the "screwing over" I'm referring to, as well as countless stories of when I worked there in the repairs space.

                            Anyone who doesn't think that Apple products aren't just the same mass produced stuff that are just as prone to failure as any other electronics products is drinking the Kool-Aid.

                            • @ImpulsePie: Just buy a decent screen protector or AppleCare. How hard is that to do. No one is forcing you to buy apple products. Buy something more aligned with your budget if Apple’s RRP is too much for your budget.

                              • @Icecold5000: this is about consumer rights - an issue apple have a problem with like many yank companies - its not a thread about apple or how much you like apple products.

                                • @petry: And not all companies treat their customer the same way and with contempt like budget phone sellers which you not seem to have noticed. I would rather buy a phone from a ‘yank’ which has excellent customer service than a crappy chinese company.You get what you pay for with electronics.

                                  • @Icecold5000: not necessarily because apple are the biggest gougers, and that's an accepted fact.

                                    your personal opinion that money buys you security when making purchases is not borne out by facts.

                                    and having to buy additional expensive insurance on top of a well dodgy statutory warranty as you indicated only emphasises that fact

                                    your personal assertion that all budget phone sellers do not observe statutory warranties is fiction.

                                    so why are you making knowingly false statements to defend a known well dodgy yank company?

                                    • @petry: Not my problem if you want to keep on buying crapy phones and complain about how bad they are. Its your problem and i don’t care. I view these phones the same way as Chinese covid vaccines. Only an option if you haven’t got the money afford anything better.

                                      • @Icecold5000: your refusal to explain and your abusive illogical response to facts you don't like is symptomatic of a fake news addict.

                                        where do you think apple phones are made?

                                        • @petry: Keeping on buying crappy Chinadroids then. No skin off my nose. Try to be more aspirational in future

                                          • @Icecold5000: crappy chinadroids indeed ….

                                            'Apple is reportedly in talks with the top government officials over the last few days on possibilities to shift some part of its “production capacity from China to India”. According to a report coming from the Economic Times, senior executives at Apple have had several meetings with top government officials to discuss plans around scaling up local revenue through contract manufacturers to nearly $40 billion. Apple plans to achieve the target in the upcoming five years.

                                            With this move, the tech giant clearly has the intention to utilise the benefits provided by the Indian government’s production-linked incentives (PLI) scheme — that encourages companies to carry out local production.'

                                            'On Saturday, a riot broke out at Wistron‘s factory in narsapura on the outskirts of Bangalore, India‘s it hub, whose main business is the assembly and manufacturing of iPhones.

                                            About 2000 employees damaged office furniture, assembly parts and vehicles. About 130 of them were arrested.

                                            The reason for the incident was that the employees did not think that they were being paid as they should be. Some employees said, “they were told that they would be paid in full when they joined the company. A staff member said that he promised 21000 rupees (US $285) per month guarantee to engineering graduates, but initially gave 16000 rupees (US $217) and then reduced it to 12 in the last three months, The situation of other employees is even worse. The salary of a non engineering graduate is reduced to 8000 rupees (US $108). Some employees claim that the salary is only 500 rupees (US $6.78). “

                                            Weichuang Zitong is an ODM (original design and manufacture) manufacturer, providing a full range of design, manufacturing and services related to information and communication technology products. In July 2019, the Fortune 500 list was released, and Weichuang group ranked 424th.

                                            It is also one of the 16 entities approved by the government of India for its production related incentive plan.'

                                            indian government subsidies and cheap wages indeed make apple products 'cheaparse'.

                                            • @petry: You really are hurt when someone refuses to validate your decision to buy cheap and nasty phones.

                                              • @Icecold5000: jeez making stuff up is really your forte, and to be as personally unpleasant as possible.

                                                enjoy your indian made apple ….have a good day…

                                                • @petry: The truth is always unpleasant to those holding delusional ideas. Especially when confronted with the fact they are poor when compared with others and are driven by envy.

                                                  • @Icecold5000: yep enjoy your indian made apple product made by exploited dying workers and exult in your belief that greed is good along with our prime minister……

                                                    • @petry: That’s the best you have? Whyare you so spiteful to those who have worked to have greater means and the income to buy what they want?

                                                      • @Icecold5000: unlike you i'm not trying to be nasty or push an agenda

                                                        • @petry: Why are you so vindictive simply because some of us can afford the finer things in life? You should channel your jealously into improving your own life not dragging others down to your level.

                                                          • @Icecold5000: There is nothing at all wrong with 'unlike you i'm not trying to be nasty or push an agenda', which is entirely accurate

                                                            hiding behind a keyboard making deliberately false statements is however being vindictive. As i replied earlier enjoy your indian made apple products, manufactured by people who didn't even get paid….

                                                            • @petry: You’ve proven my point exactly. Maybe if you choose not to be spiteful and vindictive and sought to better yourself you could afford an iPhone instead of railing against those who can. It must be painful to wake up every day to a life like yours and be driven by hate

                                                                • @petry: My mistake. I meant to say whinging.

                                                                  • @Icecold5000: whining on still?

                                                                    • @petry: If you wish to describe your conduct like that then yes. At least you have some insight into your psychopathology.

                                                                      • @Icecold5000: yep a very apt self realisation

                                                                        • @petry: Something that clearly eludes you it appears. The only way is up for you given your current state.

                                                                          • @Icecold5000: your assessment of reality makes any advice you proffer worthless, so i really don't know why you bother posting incessant unpleasantness 'cept you get off on it..

                                                                            • @petry: My assessment of reality? Is anyone forcing you to buy Apple products? Apple are successful because they deliver what the consumer wants, a quality product which work for people with a high discretionary income. If they didn’t then they would not exist. The same with your chinadroid phones, they deliver a cheap product which is reflected in their quality and service for people like you who cannot afford better. That’s the ice cold truth is that people like you resent people like me for being able to afford a higher quality of life because of our innate talent and skills.

                                                                              • @Icecold5000: i have no idea of what you are droning on about but clearly you feel entitled to make up whatever shit you like, and to insult abuse and denigrate.

                                                                                clearly god gave you your entitlement to be nasty for a reason, one can only wonder what it was…

                                                                                and don't forget to 'enjoy your indian made apple product made by exploited dying workers and exult in your belief that greed is good along with our prime minister……'

                                                                                • @petry: Buyer of Quality Electronics = Liberal voter?

                                                                                  I think your grasp on reality is tenuous if that is what you think. Keep on buying your chinadroids made with the best slave labour Xinjiang can provide courtesy of the CCP which has murdered tens of millions of its own citizens and continues to do so.

                                                                                  • @Icecold5000: i have no idea of what you are droning on about but clearly you feel entitled to make up whatever shit you like, and to insult abuse and denigrate.

                                                                                    clearly god gave you your entitlement to be nasty for a reason, one can only wonder what it was…

                                                                                    and don't forget to 'enjoy your indian made apple product made by exploited dying workers and exult in your belief that greed is good along with our prime minister……'

                                                                                    • @petry: You are aware you can review your own posts? Maybe this will help you recall. It must be painful to have such a selective memory.

                                                                                      • @Icecold5000: on the contrary you clearly have issues about your self entitled abuse so…
                                                                                        'clearly god gave you your entitlement to be nasty for a reason, one can only wonder what it was…

                                                                                        and don't forget to 'enjoy your indian made apple product made by exploited dying workers and exult in your belief that greed is good along with our prime minister……'

                                                                                        • @petry: Have you read your own post yet so you can recall what they are? All this jealousy and bile simply because you can’t afford to purchase an iphone 6. I am glad people like you exist to motivate me to do better.

                                                                                          • @Icecold5000: how do you know what phones i have? mate stick to what you know abuse and hate.

                                                                                            and lest we forget 'clearly god gave you your entitlement to be nasty for a reason, one can only wonder what it was…

                                                                                            and don't forget to 'enjoy your indian made apple product made by exploited dying workers and exult in your belief that greed is good along with our prime minister……'

                                                                                            • @petry: LOL you’re the one who hate others who can afford better things in life. How is that even logical? I couldn’t even imagine the effort that goes into hating someone for their phone and then making up shit about them like they vote for the liberals based on their consumer preferences for quality electronics. You have certainly reached peak clownworld with your pathological behaviour.

                                                                                              • @Icecold5000: ok tell what me phones i'm using? - you keep insisting on things about me that you really don't know and just make stuff up….

                                                                                                • @petry: Icecold and petry. Let's end this discussion here, take your argument into PMs. This has gone beyond the topic of discussion.

        • The debate would then go to if the drop caused a hairline fracture and resulted in moisture ingress, or even water in the charging port corroding parts then would it be the manufacturer/retailers issue?

          Thats where its murky and I feel the manufacturer would have a leg to stand on in this case.

          They're not up for repairing every little thing that may go wrong as a result of misuse

          I think a charge if the failure isn't a result of the manufacturer would quickly sort this out. Computer companies do it all the time to cover labour if its found to be user error. I think the op will quickly realise its not worth it if paying $100 for an inspection

    • if it's Nokia, their was a manufacturing defect affecting many of their phone's charging ports

    • Interesting point about "exceeding normal operational conditions" - this definitely doesn't work in my favour.

  • What is the value of the phone?

  • Just move on and next time by something decent

  • Does anyone have an idea on how to proceed with this one?

    As per everyone above, yeah budget phone. Too bad, it has physical damage, move on.

    But first make sure you clean the USB port out. Often they can get fluff in the bottom of the port that stops the cable from seating correctly aka not charging.

    I assume USB-C? Get a unfolded paperclip to sim eject tool, and run it around the inside edge of the port at the bottom and see what comes out.

    https://www.reddit.com/r/GooglePixel/comments/8e9iva/tip_cle...

    https://www.businessinsider.com/how-to-clean-usb-c-port?r=AU...

    • +1 Was about to say this.

    • Never seen anything getting stuck there, but just gave it a try. Nothing came out however.

      • Your symptoms sound exactly what I experienced with having to really force the cable into the port, and phone occasionally charging and othertimes not.

        You will really need to scrape to get the compacted in fluff out of the port it's surprising how much Is in there and just plugging the cable in compacts it more each time.

        • The charging cable actually plugs in easily and sits well in the port. However the port can moved up and down internally.

          • @Hansi: Is there any external screws next to the charging port?
            If there is, make sure they are tightened properly.
            I have a phone that wouldn't charge, I tried different different chargers and cables but it didn't make any difference. I then noticed 2 screws next to the charging port and one of the screw heads was sitting higher then the other one, I tightened the screws up and the phone would charge again.

  • As usual google and see if there are other people with the same issue and if there are then it could be a known fault with the phone. I know there have been a few phone over the years with USB charging design or manufacturing faults that can be seen when googling for a specific model.

    If it is a known fault then you may be able to get it fixed for free, otherwise as you bought a "budget smartphone" check out the phone specials that have been posted in the last 48hrs and see if you can get one.

  • Nokia?

  • There is a statutory warranty that exists outside of the manufacturer warranty. It depends on the price though. How budget is budget?

    • $250 phone. Unfortunately ACCC doesn't actually state a time, only days the product needs to last "a reasonable amount of time" so that's up to interpretation.

      • It’s meant to pass the pub test basically. I would expect a $250 phone to only last a year tbh.

        An iphone at $2000 or a samsung at similar, is meant to last for 3-5 years max no?

        • I would expect a $250 phone to only last a year tbh.

          I'm surprised so many people have so little expectation of products. Imagine buying a bassi phone every year? Doesn't that sound insane?

          I don't mean to be critical, just curious.

          • @Presence: Just dumb comments.

            I have a couple of budget phones $220 & $190, one is almost 5 years old, the other is about 4 years old and both still going strong.

          • @Presence: I don't understand how a budget/ cheaper phone is automatically expected to not last as long either. A budget phone can be an out of date model rather than an interior product.

            Hypothetically, OP bought a 3 year old model which would have costed say $900 when it first came out. Do people genuinely thinks its expected life should go from 2-3 years to just 1 year just because of the passage of time?

      • To me that's hardly budget! A $80 phone is budget!

  • Your partner dropped the phone and you want a goodwill warranty repair on a low end priced phone - I say good luck with that, I would expect a very firm no.

    • That's where it stands. Phone drop should have nothing to do with the broken charging port though I believe, as this happened approximately a year later.