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

  • 244
    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

  •  

    Was it bought with credit card that comes with extended warranty? Maybe a better avenue to go?

    •  

      Yes it was, but that it only has 6 months merchandise protection though, thanks for the suggestion!

  • +3 votes

    I stopped reading after you mentioned it was a budget phone that lasted over a year.

  •  

    Other, see comment below:

    Sorry, chose the wrong option. You should take it on the chin…

  •  

    Crack on side maybe not related to charging issue
    BUT
    physical damage voids your warranty
    /thread

    • +4 votes

      That’s bullshit.

      Damage doesn’t void your consumer rights unless the damage relates directly to the failure. Car manufacturer can’t void warranty on motor because you cracked the windshield.

      •  

        Wrong.
        Manufactures can refuse to cover a fault if you have been negligent.
        Negligence can and does void your warranty it’s in almost every warenty written and approved in Australia.
        Car manufacturer won’t fix your petrol tank leak if you have smashed the front end into a tree.

        • +3 votes

          I was responding to your outright blanket statement that damage voids warranty.

          Im glad you’ve clarified that you were wrong and now accept theres nuance in the situation and its not any damage voids warranty.

          Also, warranty cannot exclude consumer law

  • +2 votes

    Drop COULD have weakened the plug area but it would still work….normal wear and tear over time then completes the weakening into a break….I can easily see why a manufacturer/retailer would say you have no recourse in this situation. No chance of free repair IMO.

    •  

      Thanks for the input, I feared that's the case

  • +2 votes

    Check that there is no fluff in the charging port…

    I've had a similar experience with multiple phones thinking it was the charging port. I was pleasantly surprised when they started charging normally after digging out the gunk collected from the inside of my pockets.

    •  

      THanks, tried that, but there was no dirt in there

  • +2 votes

    Things are made cheap, everything is disposable, servicing is not something any modern tech toy seems to be made for. Even opening and closing the average phone takes an hour for a technician…. Well maybe not that bad, but the fact we can't even replace batteries easily is already a major cause for people to chuck their old phones! We are a very wasteful society.

    If we cared for the planet and out resources we would have upgradable phones to start with. Unfortunately just cop it on the chin.

    W

  •  

    Sounds like there were issues before the 1 year was up and then it wasn’t till March when it finally stopped working so you decided to take it in.
    These stories are quite common.

    I read though your post and I could tell you have really carefully worded it.

    Anyway, sounds like others have more helpful answers for you.
    Good luck

  • +2 votes

    Tha la everyone for the input and possible remedy. I'll just write this one off, rather than being faced with a possible repair bill.

    It doesn't change the fact though that there are good budget smartphones out there, I've personally had good experiences with the Motorola GxPlus series.

    I also still believe a produced electronic good should last longer than 12 months, otherwise it just adds up to landfill and consumers purchasing more and more stuff they wouldn't need in the first place.

    • +1 vote

      It very well could've lasted more than 12 months.

      No one here knows how you really treated it beyond dropping it etc.

      Others already said their cheap phone's have lasted years.

      Just maybe don't drop phone's in the future or get protective cases to reduce such impact damage

  • +2 votes

    Two sides to this.

    You dropped the phone and its obviously the underlining cause of the damage. Pay or move on there.

    But despite the phone being 250, the amount of people attacking that is just odd.

    If looked after it should have no issues lasting a number of years. Not everyone needs the latest and greatest. You can by a new Samsung for that much, it just won't have 4 cameras 5g and ultra 4k hddddd 354949mhz refresh rate screen.

    I bought a Chinese phone to use for work and when I changed jobs with a work phone that went to my parents who just need to do calls. It's now 3.5 years into its life and still holds decent battery life.

    Everyone's quick to have a crack at someone for buying a cheap phone. Shame on this person for not being a baller like you.

    •  

      Most are not having a crack. It is a tried and tested truth that the ACCC equates cost with lifespan. It has nothing to do with what you or I think.

    •  

      This forum has got increasingly toxic, especially in the past year. Everyone just wants to rip everyone to shreds.

  •  

    Some phones can be easily opened up and done minor repairs on (or at least see where the problem is). Just search on youtube for your phone. Option after that is to try snap on usb magnetic charge cables that will put less stress on a connector. Alternatively the phone can be sold on ebay for someone else to fix up and use if you state the problem clearly enough.

    And at last, trying out a repair by manufacturer could also be an acceptable option if you care about it not going into landfill.

    •  

      Will see how it goes and keep it for now, just have to ensure it's charging correctly when plugging it in.

  •  

    Budget phones are budget for a reason, they will fail early. Depends on how much it cost - $50-$100? 1 year warranty is fair. Apple iPhone at $1000+? Should last a lot longer.

    •  

      Budget phones are cheap due to old tech not bad quality

      •  

        A phone should last at least two years. Let's not pretend otherwise.

        Edit: I clicked reply on the wrong post, was meant to be to the guy above you

  • +1 vote

    Maybe use an app similar to this one to make sure it stays charging overnight while looking for a replacement device (at your own expense)
    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.secureapps...

    •  

      That app is an awesome idea, didn't even think about that, cheers!

    •  

      wow how it works?

    •  

      hello

      •  

        Phone get charge, if phone not get charge phone go beep

  • +2 votes

    Good chance to practice your soldering skills.
    I replaced different ports over the years breaking and learning along the way.
    Nevertheless a great skill set to have and more time in the garage :D

    • +1 vote

      Thanks, actually repaired a phone before (glass screen broken / LCD was working), just got some cheap parts off ebay. It's quite fun!

  • +1 vote

    I would learn to repair yourself.. not hard if you have the right tools. I have to admit I do have the required equipment and a electronics hobbyist.

  • +1 vote

    The ACCC has an interesting reference to a “reasonable expectation” regarding device life. (https://www.accc.gov.au/system/files/Warranties%20and%20refu...) Personally, I would expect a device that has been treated well to survive longer than a year, regardless of price point.

    That said, I’ve typically bought phones once their price has dropped, not the super budget phones.

    My worst phone, though, was a flagship phone (bought just after it came out) that had numerous issues and the maker continually tried to convince me that their warranty was shorter than that stated on their own website.

    Warranty support can be a pain even in the best of circumstances. Having obvious damage gives them an additional reason to refuse. :(

  •  

    I know its unlikely, but after a year of use my Pixel 2 developed an issue with the charging port… not all cables would click in, the one in my car would fall out and it consistently got worse through the second year to where I'd have to apply pressure or certain angles. I never put much thought into it, whilst repairing some equipment under an electronics microscope, my partner joked that I should look at the charging port on my phone, she was right….

    The port was completely full of lint from my pockets, compacted by inserting the charging cable every day. Compressed air wouldn't remove it, picked it all out… works perfectly again.

    •  

      I have tried with a toothpick and compressed air so far, but maybe I'll need to have a look by opening it up.

      •  

        My Samsung port was replaced with similar symptoms, but not under warranty as I couldn't be bothered to argue as life is short. Ended up being rusted because of soft drink in it lol

    •  

      Had the exact same issue with a Huawei P20 Pro. Charging cables loose, charging sporadic, thought it was a stuffed port for sure, looking at it under a lit magnifying glass it looked OK, however sure enough compressed lint/gunk was the cause that had formed another black layer on the plastic at the base of the socket, took ages to pick out properly and had to use a fine needle (carefully with the phone powered off avoiding shorting terminals) - perfect again after. It was so hardened it would be hard or impossible to blow out and you really need sharp fine pointy object for the job.

  • +1 vote

    Haven’t read whole thread but have you considered that there might just be crap in the charging port. Happened to my device. Same symptoms as you described. Took it to a repairer and he cleaned it. Didn’t bother charging anything (except the phone ba da tss)

    Ps I tried cleaning the port myself and that did nothing. When repair dude got his magnifying glass our and tiny scrapers I couldn’t believe the giant piece of crap he pulled out

    •  

      Yep, cheers, multiple suggestions towards this already.

    • -1 vote

      Has been suggested here here here and here

      •  

        Many thanks here, there and I don’t care.

        Can i point you to my opening line:

        Haven’t read whole thread but have you considered

  • +1 vote

    I'll give you my two cents as something similar to this occured to me and i resolved it. I also worked at a major tech retailer for 10 years.

    I purchased a Samsung S10 512gb dual sim directly from Samsung. The phone was 1.5 (most high end smart phones are expected to last over 1 year. Some retailers have internal policies voluntarily covering warranty issues tor items over $500 for 2 yesrs.

    Incident: I cracked the bottom corner of the screen with a minor drop, unlikely to cause internal damage. I continued to use the phone for several months until suddenly it stopped functioning altogether. I asked samsung to cover this under warranty, which they refused as it wasnt in a "warrantable comdition". The cost to repair it to warrantable comditon was $420 (repair screen). It was suggested paying the quote fee of $69 wasn't enough as the glued on screen cracks when they open it, so they would have to replace the screen for free to investigate. I argued this damage was not related to the functioning failure as the phone worked perfectly and abruptly failed. I suggested if this was proven they should refund me the screen repair and refund the phone.

    I paid $420, they repaired the phone and identified it was a major fault caused by an unrelated motherboard failure. They returned the repaired phone, which i rejected as it was a major fault. They refunded me the original phone cost and the cost of the screen repair.

    I suggest you follow the same pathway. You can also complain to your local consumer protection agency who will mediate and likely resolve this. I believe apple has been fined previously for refusing to repair phones with warranty issues because of unrelated superficial damage. You will need to check court documents.

    In my opinion, it is reasonable for a consumer to think a high end smart phones (S series, Note, iPhone) should last a minimum of 2.5 years without warranty internal failures.

    •  

      Interesting insight and good on you for taking on a big player like Samsung. It seemed like a gamble at times, however for a smartphone in your price category it was probably worth fighting for. Not sure if the effort is worth it for a budget smartphone, though the principle remains the same.

    •  

      you can think it but then you have to fight it without a working phone, which takes time and effort. Whilst one may feel feel that State fair trading should help that remains hit and miss and slow.

      pretending things are not that way prevents any improvements being made to consumer laws and to state government spending on consumer support.

  •  

    I know with certainty that you are entitled to getting the charging port fixed for free, irrespective of the hairline screen crack.

    •  

      Can you elaborate how you know this or based on what I am entitled to this?

  • +1 vote

    I had the exact issue with a Motorola and after telling Motorola I expected the phone to last longer than 14months before the charging port having issues they repaired it free of charge

    •  

      The manufacturer may have to be my next stop, though I shouldn't have to deal with the manufacturer directly, as my contract is with the retailer. A lot of hassle though….

      •  

        True but in my experience it saves a lot of time since the retailers usually send it to them anyway to ascertain the cause of the fault

  • +1 vote

    buy a device with 2 years warranty or a protection plan

  •  

    Buy a good phone and treat it gently.

  • +2 votes

    This thread seems to be full of people who don't understand statutory warranties

    •  

      doesn’t work with physical damages.

      •  

        Yes it does. They won't cover the damage caused by you, but they will cover damage due to poor quality manufacturing

        •  

          On paper may be 😝

          Try it and you’ll know it. I’ve had 2 incidents involving warranty claims with unrelated screen damages.

          first time they said need to repair physical damage before they inspect for warranty claim.
          2nd time they refused to repair stating its a safety and fire hazard.

          2 different phones, different service centres.

  • +1 vote

    I am bad with phones that's why I only buy budget phones

    If it dies I just grab another one and move on

  •  

    Does the phone have wireless charging capabilities? Could always still use it if it has wireless charging

    •  

      Unfortunately not, I rely on the charging port.

  •  

    If interested, here's a photo

  •  

    Another blind-sided thread. I don't understand why you can't mention what's the retailer, and brand of the phone.

    I do understand the information might not be crucial for the feedback you are hoping to get from Ozbargain, but I'm sure people would be able to relate and be more keen to provide feedback if they had all the information you have.

  • +1 vote

    Always complain. I had a Google pixel 2xl which the front and back camera suddenly stop working due to a hardware error. A quick google told me this is a regular problem with this device. The phone was 2 months out of warranty (2 years 2 months old). I complained to Google and they first just said it was out of warranty and tough luck. After 2 stronger emails about consumer rights and Google's poor customer experience compared to competitors etc they u-turned and replaced the phone for free.

  •  

    Try buy from Amazon.

    From what I've read- their after-sales / returns are great.

    • +1 vote

      Love Amazon, I've had multiple returns with them due to faulty products and those were the smoothest returns out of any retailer. Can highly recommend them!

  •  

    There are seveal comments saying a budget phone is expected to break.

    This is a usb c port. I don't believe there are many corners to cut, it probably has the same port as a flagship phone.

    Complain directly to the manufacturer, don't try and force the retailer to refund you, as they will only follow manufacturer instruction, not your arguments.

    •  

      Manufacturer will be my next stop, see how it goes!

  •  

    With that physical damage you don't have a hope in hell of getting them to fix/replace it under warranty, and neither should they. You can't assume that dropping the phone to where it received that much damage didn't play any part in it not charging properly. Chances are it did.

  • +1 vote

    My opinion:
    1. Budget phone possibly around $200.
    2. Used for a year and one month.
    3. My average working hour is at worse $20.
    4. Go to retailer and argue: 1 hour ($20).
    5. Go forth and back, discussing the phone with your wife, your family, friends, writing the poll, spending time on ozbargain answering on comments: 20 hours ($400)
    6. Make it simple: throw the phone and buy another, better for $420.
    7. Wasted time of yours and other people by this poll: priceless.
    8. Life is tough. Don't complicate it.

    •  

      whilst your math total may be dramatised essentially i agree. however nothing will ever change unless people make noise and object which is precisely why things are as bloody awful as they are.

      •  

        We are making noise, but this noise has to be somehow escalated further to the "upper management".
        When everything starts to get produced again in the brands original countries, then things won't be awful any more.
        I remeber even back in the 1980s we were steering off the electronics produced in China. We've had only a half a dozen of brands: Sharp, Technics, Panasonic, Sony, Marantz and JVC. They were bulletproof and all of them were made either in Deutchland (West Germany) or Japan. They were so expensive that we've had to save for years to buy a hi-fi or a video recorder (I've had none of them btw). I've had a plastic double deck tape hi-fi and never ever went wrong with it for many years also.
        Anything plastic back then was considered rubbish but it worked 5 times better.
        I have nothing against China producing all famous brands now with the licences of the original companies. If they pay the Chinese workers the money in China as much as we are getting in Sydney, we would get the same brands back up to their original fame today.
        Nowadays, when someone buys the most expensive TV of some of the famous brands, they can never be sure that the thing will be working more than their warranty.
        It is a consumer world. Samsung phone is made to last EXACTLY 2 years. It is well calculated. In those two years Samsung will make a few more similar phones and one or two better. But they will also last EXACTLY two years so the brand followers MUST buy another phone after two years. And that is how much is the warranty - two years.
        People in ozbargain are smart. Most of them already knows this. But I am just venting out how fed I am with this and I am offering an simple but utopic solution.
        By the way, I like your all lower case characthers which might mean that you are an old school too and totally understan what I wrote here.

        • +1 vote

          communication doesn't require careful formatting, clarity in communication these days is often regarded as offensive, and essentially the worlds gone to shit, largely because people believe people who they know are completely dishonest.

          Just how dumb is that?

          ohh and mostly i agree

  •  

    If it didn't have any damage I would be riding their asses and blasting them on social media. However, because it's damaged (Although it may not be the cause) the likelyhood of anything being done is extremely low.