Starting a new contract is often a confusing affair. Finding the right phone, the right coverage and the right price is sometimes can take time. With more and more business done online we decided to take a look at what happens if you’re not happy with your purchase. Let’s imagine you’ve paid the money online and the phone has arrived but you’re just not happy, for whatever reason. During our investigation we found that a “Distance Selling Regulation” is in place to protect the customer and some networks have their own teams dedicated to just this. One UK network however, stuck out like a sore thumb.
To begin with, we checked Orange. Their Terms and Conditions state that, “You have the right to cancel this contract. To do so you must contact us within 7 days of receipt of the goods”. Indeed, if you get the phone and you’re not happy for any reason, just call them and return it. T-Mobile were the same, “Just send it back, if you’re within the 7 days we just charge for any usage and send it back”. Next was Three. I was quite impressed with their coverage so I decided to actually order a phone. After testing I found one address I visit quite often kept dropping to 2G (roaming) so I called them to cancel the contract.
“No”, they stated. “You’ve used it”. Sure, I’d made one call and used their mobile internet – you’re encouraged to do so in the letter that comes with it, but according to their “Terms of purchase” you can’t use the phone or the SIM – if you do, you’re in a contract, end of.
This concerned us greatly and, despite several calls, they refused to budge. I checked and rechecked their Terms of Purchase and it clearly states at the bottom that “This does not affect your statutory rights” and it clearly goes against the Office of Fair Trading and Distance Selling / Consumer Protection Regulations.
I’m still in the 7-day “cooling off” period but Three refuse to cancel the contract, even after me offering to pay for the usage and pay to return the phone. Can Three do this legally? To make matters worse the “Terms of purchase” clearly states that you cannot “make or receive texts”, but when you turn on the phone it receives a text WELCOMING you to Three !
I’ve tried to raise a complaint about this to Three but it’s falling on deaf ears. My next step is to write and complain but the 7-day “cooling off” clock is ticking with three days gone because of the Bank Holiday here in the UK. If there’s any legal-eagles out there we’d love to hear from you as this goes against e-consumer protection and Distance Selling Regulations.
We’ve contacted Three but they’re yet to respond on this matter.
Update – According to consumer advice you’re apparently “waive your right to cancel” when using the handset and Three are free to adjust rights when you click “Buy”. Word of warning – ready the small-print before you press “Buy”, not all networks are the same.