The other day I bought a new mobile – a Nokia 6630 smartphone. I got it from Noel Leemings.

Now this is where the tale starts – when I got the phone it intermittently dropped the screen out. Must have been a loose connections or something. As it was only a couple of weeks old I took it back to the store to get them to send it to Nokia for repairs.

First issue I came to was being advised that I’d have to pay a $55 mobile phone warranty assessment fee. Now this is crazy – one buys a product that is faulty – never never should one have to pay to have same product assessed for repairs. Even if the fee gets refunded once the warranty is proven it doesn’t matter – it’s still got to be in breach of the consumer guarantees act which protects consumers from buying a lemon and being left in the dark (to mix my metaphors somewhat).

Next problem was when Noel Leemings rang me to tell me that the phone could be repaired – they’d read the purchase date on the invoice wrong and thought it was out of warranty. As such they offered to give me a quote to effect the repair. I pointed out to them the purchase date and they promised to get back to me.

A week later I heard from the store who rung to tell me that Nokia had decided that the phone could not be repaired and they would offer me a credit – at this point I smelt a rat – the phone was repairable when they thought I’d be paying for the privilege but miraculously unrepairable under warranty. I didn’t want a credit – I wanted the phone that I purchased to work 100%.

After much asserting of my legal rights, Nokia reassessed their position and have agreed to fix the phone.

The entire episode makes me wonder how many less assertive and threateningly litigious people out there get ripped off by manufacturers and retailers. My questions are;

  1. Can a retailer legally charge an assessment fee for a faulty item still under warranty
  2. Can a manufacturer simply decide not to fix an item and offer a credit
  3. When an item proves faulty and it is still available in the marketplace, surly the consumer can demand a replacement rather than a credit
Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

1 Comment
  • Roy Bartholomew |

    Hi, I had the same issue when my partner returned her new nokia (an insurance replacment) to Noel Leeming after 2 months due to the fact it was falling apart. A week later she told me about the fee (putting it off as she’d know how I would react). Apparently Fair Go covered this last year, saw it as a shoddy practice, but it was a legal grey area at the time, and still is.

    A CAB consumer expert said I should write and complain to teh Commerce Commission as they have the legal clout to resolve the issue either way.

    That’s what I’m doing. I also gave feedback to AMI insurance who weren’t too impressed and their head office will be assessing the situation.

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