I bought an 02 X2i from Argos on the 02/05/2006, yesterday I got up, picked up my phone before I went out to work as usual. What did I find when i came to use my phone? None of the buttons working except for the numeral 7. First thing I did was remove the battery, give it a few seconds and then replace it. The power button worled to turn it on, but after the phone had booted again I had the number 7 and that was it, the power button would not even work to turn the phone back off. To me this suggests a serious software design flaw somewhere along the line. Why it hasn't come out until now I don't know, but the fact remains that were the issue down to a hardware fault (whether incurred by an accident or not) the Power button would not turn the phone on either.
Now I thought its 41 days since I bought the thing, its got a years warranty so I will nip into Argos and get a replacement. Obviously what with work I could not do that until today so I returned the Phone 42 days after it was bought. The lady I spoke to was very polite, but unfortunately this is the stage where it all goes downhill.

Argos apparantly has a policy whereby if the item is returned after 30 days then it is sent off for repair, no replacement or refund, repair. Now had it been 6 months since I bought the phone then yes, i would be happy to have it sent off for repair, but its 42 days so I'm sure most would agree with me that a replacement is the necessary course of action. For a start if a customer asks for a replacement it is good Customer Services to offer it if available. Now having deiscovered that repair was the only course of action then this was the course I have had to take, but this is where things get potentially worse. They said to allow 14 days for repair, now I use my phone a lot, 14 days to be without it is a long time, and could even cost me money given the amount of people who use that number to get their PC repaired. It is only by the grace of god that I managed to dig out my old phone. However the paperwork that I filled out for the repair (I hate paperwork, but it has to be done and you can't blame them) clearly states that it is an agreement between myself and Argos that should the damage turn out to be due to something other than manufacturing defects i.e. water damage, a knock or a drop etc. then I will have to pay for the repair, though they will of course contact me first to confirm that I still want them to go ahead. My question is this, What is there to stop them from blaming the problem on me? Whatever the proble, manufacturing defect or not, it would be very hard to prove that you didn't cause it.
I should mention that the 02 X2i costs 79.95 so I have spent the best part of a hundred quid on a phone I expect to work, it's not as if its a cheap 20 quid MP3 player, so the level of service shown by Argos is even worse, and reflects a company that has forgotten it works in a consumer based market. If the consumers say we are not spending money at Argos anymore then there goes some of their revenue.

As shown on this page as a consumer I have certain rights. Notice the line

If you take the goods back within six months of buying them, the trader must accept that they were faulty at the time of sale and offer to repair or replace them. If the trader doesn't accept that the goods were faulty, they will have to prove this.

Ok so they have complied, they offered to repair them, but; In the same way, if you have asked the trader to replace your goods and this turns out to be impractical or too expensive, the trader doesn't have to replace them, but you can choose to have a repair instead.

Now tell me how my situation meets either of these criteria? It is certainly not impractical, and giving me a replacement phone is not to expensive given that a) they would probably have the old one repaired and put back on sale anyway b) the amount of money they will lose now that I no longer shop there is far greater.
I read a great many sites where people omit the issues that don't back up their articles, I am not one of those people. The link above also contains the following

You will not have these rights if

  • there is nothing wrong with the goods ? you have just changed your mind about wanting them
  • you examined the goods, or a sample of the goods, when you were buying them, and the fault you want to complain about was so obvious that you should have noticed it
  • the trader pointed out the defect that you now want to complain about
  • you have damaged the goods yourself
  • the problem is the result of normal wear and tear
  • the goods have lasted for as long as could reasonably be expected

  • So lets work through these criteria one by one. There is evidently something wrong with the goods, the buttons don't work ;-)
    I did not examine the goods at time of purchase, and to be fair I would not have noticed even if I had, the problem was clearly a latent design flaw
    Argos did not point out the defect, presumable because they did not know about it
    I have not damaged the goods, in fact I cannot even remember dropping it once, however I presume they will want to investigate that one
    If it is a result of wear and tear then I want a refund, as 42 days does not count as a reasonable time for wear and tear for me. A product when sold is supposed to be fit for the intended purpose for 6 months, 42 days is a long way short of that.
    The last criteria can also have the above argument applied to it.

    It is my belief that in this case Argos are quite deliberately skirting the law, they have remained within it, but only just. This is the reason why I will not be shopping at Argos again, unless they can rectify the issues and show me that this was a one off issue.
    I have of course contacted Argos about this, and the email I sent can be found below, I will of course be posting any replies I receive, although obviously all personal details will be removed from the email ;-)

    You never know they may even be able to win my custom back if they handle this correctly.

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    On the 2nd of May 2006 I purchased an O2 X2i phone (catalogue number 547/2303) for �79.95. Yesterday I switched on the phone before work, and discovered that all the buttons, except for the numeral 7 have ceased to function. The power button will work to switch the phone on but not off. This suggests a design flaw in the firmware fo the device. Now it was 41 days ago that I bought the phone (at the time of the malfunction) however for various reasons I was unable to return the phone to your Ipswich store (Carr Street) until today. Having approached the Refunds and Replacement desk I was informed that because the product had not been returned within 30 days the Companies policy was to repair the device. This is simply not good enough, had I owned the phone for 6 months or more, then i would have been happy to accept a repair. However I bought the phone 42 days ago, expecting it to work for a reasonable amount of time, to then find I have to wait another 14 days for the item to be repaired is completely unacceptable. Upon selling the item to me you (The company) entered a contract with me (The buyer), one of the terms of this contract as laid out by the Sale of Goods act 1979 declares that items sold must be fit for the purpose for which they are sold for a reasonable amount of time. It obviously wasn't, as I can honestly say i have never dropped or knocked the phone. A repair is totally unacceptable, if I buy an item I expect it to work, not to have to send it off for repair less than 2 months later. As I saw I had no other choice the item has been sent off for repair, however due to this, and other service in the past I will no longer be shopping at Argos.
    I hope we can find some way to resolve this, I also recommend you read http://benscomputer.no-ip.org/Argos.html for more information on the issue


    Ben Tasker

    Now I just have to sit and wait for a) a reply and b) my phone to be returned. But as it stands Argos will lose my business, I will quite happily spend the extra bit of money to purchase my goods elsewhere. It is my right as a consumer and I intend to use it.

    After nearly a week I have received a reply from Argos, it is quoted below

    Dear Mr Tasker

    Thank you for your recent email concerning the O2 X2I mobile phone.

    Firstly please accept my sincere apologies for the delay on our part, in responding to you.

    I was very sorry to learn of the problems that you encountered with this item, and I can appreciate the obvious inconvenience this matter has caused.

    Normally our Quality Assurance procedures ensure that customers do not receive defective merchandise. We never like to hear that anyone is less than completely satisfied with their purchases, but we do appreciate knowing where we need to make improvements.

    In general if an item develops a manufacturing fault during the first 30 days of purchase a replacement or refund is offered. If a manufacturing fault develops after 30 days and before 12 months we will have the item repaired free of charge, providing proof of purchase is available.

    Before your phone can be repaired it will be inspected by an independent engineer, in order to establish the cause of the fault. If the phone has a manufacturing fault and it cannot be repaired, we would then offer you a replacement.

    Whilst I appreciate the frustration this matter has caused you, I regret that we would be unable to offer you a refund for this item and I can only apologise for any disappointment caused.

    If you would like to discuss this matter further, or if you require any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.

    The delay is acceptable, they are no doubt busy especially as summer approaching means a lot of barbecue purchases among other things. I can't help feel that this reply has somewhat missed the point though, whilst I am frustrated that my phone broke, these things happen, when a manufacturer churns out thousands of items there will always be a few that are defective. My issue lies in the fact that even though it was less than 2 months since I purchased it, Argos were unwilling to replace it.
    I received a phone call from Argos this morning to say that my phone had arrived, so going by the terms and conditions of the docket I signed when I despatched the phone, it was judged that it was indeed a manufacturing defect, and not caused by mistreatment by me. This only supports my point further, I am grateful that companies out there are good enough to follow the law in order that I could have my phone repaired. Problem is the law is the law so I should not need to be greatful. I have of course replied to obtain a response more relevant to what I asked.

    Dear Mr Hunt,

    Thank you for your response, I apologise for the delay in my reply, but I have been at work a lot recently. I cannot help but feel that your reply has somewhat missed the point of my original email. I am frustrated that the phone broke, but in these days of mass manufacturing there will always be a few defective items, these things happen. The issue I have is that even though the item failed in less than 2 months I was told I was unable to get a replacement despite the fact that it is clear I could not easily have caused the fault myself. Had I just not been offered it, that is acceptable, but to be told I could not obtain a replacement when I had specifically asked for it, is beyond unacceptable.
    I would also like to point out that I never requested a refund, although I must admit after being told that I was unable to get the service that I expect from a retailer with the reputation of Argos, I was tempted to demand a refund and take my service elsewhere.
    Whilst I appreciate that every company has its own policies, in a customer driven market customer service should always come first.
    It is because of the diversity of company policies in the market that I will be taking my custom elsewhere in future. This will not greatly effect Argos's takings, but I will not be supporting the business of a company that will not even provide the basic customer service.

    I received the phone today, the fact that it had been repaired without charge supports my position, as I am sure you are aware the docket I had to sign upon despatch carries the disclaimer

    "I AGREE to accept liability for charges arising from this repair which are not due to manufacturing defects."

    This suggests that the malfunction on the phone was a manufacturing defect, therefore it would have been perfectly acceptable to offer me a replacement. I do appreciate that Argos does need to try to protect itself against frivoulos returns, but the phone is in perfect condition with no signs of knocks or scratches so it was clearly not malfunctioning due to misuse. As I mentioned in an earlier email, If I buy something I expect it to work for a reasonable amount of time, the law expects 6 months so that is the minimum I would expect. I do not expect to spend money on something and then have to have it repaired (through no fault of my own) less than 2 months later. How do I know that it is not a latent problem? if it is it could well resurface in a few months time. It is for these reasons I requested a replacement, and I had expected that a retailer of Argos's stature would happily provide that.

    Thank you for your time

    Ben Tasker MOC

    I do not believe Argos will ever consider changing their policy and so, as mentioned in my email, I will not be supporting their business any longer. I have gone 2 years without even stepping inside a Tesco store, so I am sure I can do the same with Argos. I will happily spend that extra little bit of money to ensure that when/if something goes wrong I will have some follow up with people that understand the term "Customer Service"

    Shifty_ben - Posted 19/06/2006 - Updated 26/06/2006


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