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The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has urged mobile phone service providers to offer free handset repairs to its customers if it fails during the term of a service contract.ACCC Chairman, Graeme Samuel said, “Consumers who buy a mobile telephone as part of their service contract have the right to expect that the handset will last the length of that contract.”

Chairman Samuel said that some companies are seeking to avoid their responsibilities by saying that if a handset fails, it is not ‘part of the service contract’.

“This is simply not on. The ACCC believes the handset is an integral part of the package and if it fails through no fault of the consumer, the company is responsible for replacement or repair,” added Samuel.

Mr Samuel continued by pointing to a recent resolution with Vodafone Hutchison Australia (VHA) under which it agreed that customers who acquired mobile phones under a service contract received a retail warranty at no extra cost for the contract’s term.  

“This means that a customer on a 24-month service contract will receive free unlimited repairs if their handset is faulty for the entire 24 months.  Also, VHA customers who had pre-paid contracts from 1 January this year who buy their handset will get an express warranty for 24 months,” said Samuel.

Apple iPhone owners are not entitled to this resolution as the warranty of the handset is limited to 12 months, regardless of the term of the service contract.

“The ACCC is currently in discussions with Telstra and Optus to bring these companies, their resellers and agents up to the line. I am confident that these major suppliers will put their customers’ interest first and step up.”

“Of course, the ACCC is not asking for the companies to repair phones free of charge that have been damaged through misuse or accidental damage.  This is about phones that fail through no fault of the customer,” concluded Samuel.

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