Case Studies

Worldwide mobile phone

The customer's job takes her all over the world and she wanted to be able to contact her family on a regular basis as her parents weren't well.

She saw a leaflet advertising a mobile telephone that could be used "worldwide", and she bought the phone. Whilst in Australia she kept getting a message saying "limited service" and she was unable to make calls using the phone.

She contacted her provider and was advised to take the phone back to the shop where she had bought it. There she was given a replacement phone whilst her phone was being looked at.

The customer subsequently travelled to the US, where the replacement phone worked without any problem. When she returned to New Zealand she collected her original phone and was told that there didn't appear to be any fault with it.

During her next visit to Australia she once more got the "limited service" message. After her return to New Zealand she again contacted her provider, who explained that roaming on networks provided by other companies was out of the provider's control.

The customer contacted TDR, saying that she was unhappy with the provider's response. She said that she believed the advertisment had been misleading because, she felt, the phone was not suitable for worldwide roaming.  She wanted a replacement phone or her money back, and she also wanted the monthly charges credited.

Her provider advised TDR that the problem was due to limitations of coverage for the overseas networks rather than a fault with the phone itself. The provider also stated that in the original advertising letter there was information advising customers to check its website for details about roaming and coverage limitations in certain parts of the world. The company did offer the customer a reduction in the bill and also said that it would release her from her contract without penalty. The provider said that this offer would be withdrawn if the customer did not accept it.

The customer was not satisfied and a TDR adjudicator was called upon to make a determination. On examination of the facts the adjudicator found that the advertisment had not been misleading and that the customer had been given sufficient advice about the possibility of network limitations. The adjudicator was not able to award this.

The customer was advised that is she was unhappy with the final determination she could take the complaint to another forum, such as the Disputes Tribunal.  In the meantime the provider would be entitled to set about recovery of outstanding charges.