I really like Apple products, they’re just expensive! The amount you pay for a new MacBook, iPad or iMac is a painful amount out of the wallet, and has always necessitated months, if not more often years, of saving. Like any technology products, they break, and in the last 6 months I’ve managed to use consumer law – with very little effort – to have two iPhones replaced and an expensive iMac repaired.
This strategy works with any expensive product you’ve got – if it’s worth an hour of your time to try and get a replacement or repair, it might be worth following these steps. (I’ve also included some specific guidance relating to claiming on Apple products.)
The relevant law
You need to claim against the retailer you bought the item from. Again, you’ll need proof of purchase, but the relevant legislation is the Sale of Goods Act 1979.
Under the Sale of Goods Act 1979, goods must:
- Be of satisfactory quality.
- Be fit for purpose.
- Be as described.
- Last for a reasonable length of time.
So how do you use this? If you’ve bought an item and it needs a replacement or repair, first write to the retailer asking for a repair or replacement due to a fault. Most of the time, they’ll refuse: just write to the retailer setting out your rights under the Sale of Goods Act. If that doesn’t work, threaten to take them to Small Claims Court (which costs less than £100, and they have to pay your fees when you win!)
Getting a mobile phone replacement on a contract
The iPhone was on contract with O2, ~13 months into a 2 year contract. This might be different now O2 Refresh is in play (a scheme that allows you to replace your phone with a new model without upgrading your contract), but O2’s standard consumer and business iPhone contracts last for 18+ months (normally 24), whereas the actual phone is only guaranteed against repairs for the first year.
Being quite a large company, O2 know all about the Sale of Goods Act – even if they try and pretend they don’t. This was my original exchange with O2’s live chat:
James Inman: I have spoken to someone on the phone at O2 this morning who said there is nothing you can do because there is only a 1 year warranty, however, under the Sale of Goods act goods must be fit for purpose – which in this case is providing a phone on a 2 year contract that works for 2 years.
James Inman: Under the Sale of Goods Act 1979, as a seller, O2 should ensure that the goods are of a satisfactory quality and last for a reasonable length of time.
James Inman: You have sold a phone on a 2 year contract that has not lasted 2 years.
O2: Sabi: I’m sorry James, I’ll have to stick to the replacement process we have in place
O2: Sabi: I won’t be able to take any exceptions on this
James Inman: Please transfer me to your supervisor.
O2: Ken – Supervisor: Hello James. As per our terms and conditions we offer only 1 year warranty on iPhone.
Safe to say, I wasn’t getting anywhere with their live chat, and this was just a waste of time! I then drafted a two paragraph emailed to O2 setting out my 4 rights under the Sale of Goods Act and stating that a reasonable length of time for an expensive phone to last was not 13 months – and that I would happily take them to Small Claims Court if they didn’t agree to replace the telephone.
Within an hour, I’d received a telephone call from O2 telling me they’d sent out a replacement iPhone!
What’s different with Apple?
If you’re dealing with products Apple have sold (through a retail store or online), or Apple products you’ve bought from elsewhere, you can call and ask AppleCare – whether you have AppleCare or not – for an “EU Consumer Law Claim Form”. They’ll fill this out for you, and tell you whether they’ll repair your product or not. From what I’ve heard, this will work for up to 6 years after the date of purchase, as long as there’s no accidental damage on the product you need repairing.
This route seems to be open with Apple as they spent so long not abiding by EU law and insisting you needed to purchase AppleCare for repairs! Apple’s information on the “statutory warranty” is here. Unless you have your proof of purchase, Apple don’t have to bite on this, but if you’ve bought something from the Apple Web Store, even on a previous Apple ID years ago, they can dig out the invoice by product serial number.
This seems to work best when you take a product into the Genius Bar or an Apple Authorised Service Provider: AASPs have a system that fills this form out and automatically sends it off to Apple if you request – and the Genius Bar can make decisions in-store. You can always try the Sale of Goods Act route with Apple if this doesn’t work, too.