Case Studies

Conflicting accounts

After accidentally machine-washing his phone, a customer understood his provider would provide a replacement.

The customer signed a two-year contract that included a free mobile phone.

Unfortunately, he accidentally left the phone in an item of clothing that was machine washed. He contacted the provider to explain the circumstances, and was left with the impression that the damaged phone would be replaced, free of charge.

The replacement phone didn’t arrive, so the customer contacted the provider again. He was told there was no record of any offer of a free replacement phone, and that the representative he had spoken to had since left the company. Instead, he would have to pay $499 for a replacement phone as the original phone’s warranty had not covered water damage.

The company maintained this position in subsequent calls between the customer and its representatives. Company records showed that the customer eventually agreed to the fee, and received and activated the replacement phone.

A few months later, the customer contacted the provider to advise that his phone had been lost or stolen. He again asked for a replacement phone, free of charge. The request was declined.

The customer contacted TDR for help. After attempts at conciliation failed, the matter was referred to an adjudicator*, who concluded that the provider had no legal responsibility to provide a replacement phone. They also stated that the provider was unlikely to have made the original offer, firstly because there was no record of it and secondly because the representative hadn’t arranged for a replacement phone to be sent to the customer. As a result, the customer was liable to pay the $499 charge outstanding on his account for the replacement phone that had been sent to him. 

* an adjudicator is now referred to as a Resolution Practitioner