UK consumers have a powerful friend in the Sale of Goods Act, if something they buy fails unexpectedly within a fairly long period of time - up to six years, in fact.
What does this mean if you have an iPhone that has stopped working just a couple of months outside the one year warranty? Quite simply, the law is on your side. A customer whose iPhone died during an iOS upgrade was told by Apple Store staff that the internal flash-drive had failed and that it could not be repaired. A new handset would be £139. Orange, the original vendor of the iPhone and contract, said that the Sale of Goods Act obligations had been fulfilled and that they would not help fund a replacement.
As it turns out, the Sale of Goods Act makes England/Wales retailers responsible for the items they sell, for up to six years, and all support staff at a customer-focussed company like Orange should know this. The Act is quite loose in its wording for how long something should work for, and it is a question of "how long most reasonable people would expect it to last". 14 months lifetime for an iPhone that cost over £400 new, is clearly unacceptable.
In this case, the customer got his iPhone replaced free of charge.
The essential difference between a warranty and the Sale of Goods Act is that the warranty is a virtually no-quibble guarantee that you'll get any fault rectified. The S-o-G Act provides the same level of protection (ie, the retailer must fix the problem to the consumer's satisfaction), but may require legal assistance to determine whether the fault occurred within a 'reasonable' period of time.
The trick with the Sale of Goods Act is that you have to use it, or you lose it! If you accept a settlement with the retailer (eg, going halves) then you cannot go back later and wave your legal rights at them. The agreement has been made and you have to stick with it.
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