Mobile phone refunds easier to secure, but still inconsistent

UK retailers Carphone Warehouse and Phones4U have both agreed to implement new returns policies, which allow customers to cancel their mobile phone contracts if they do not get the coverage they need.

Both retailers now offer 14-day returns policies on their mobile phone deals if coverage is insufficient, allowing customers to obtain a refund in-store, without having to go through a lengthy claims process.

The announcement comes after the Communications Consumer Panel found that half of participants in its Mobile cancellation survey were given incorrect information by retailers over whether or not they could cancel their contract due to poor network coverage.

Returns policies are still inconsistent…

Which?’s mobile phone industry expert Ceri Stanaway welcomed the news, but said that there needs to be more consistency between retailers and networks on their returns policy.

‘This should give new customers a decent chunk of time to check their mobile works in all the places they regularly want to use their phone, not just at home,’ said Stanaway.

‘However, Which? would like to see all mobile retailers and networks offer a 14 day coverage return policy as a minimum. The current inconsistency between policies from different retailers and networks can be confusing for customers.’

Virgin currently offers a 28 day returns policy, while Orange has no formal in-store returns policy and relies on store managers to decide whether or not a customer will get a refund due to poor coverage.

Stanaway also points out that apart from 3 (which allows customers to cancel contracts at anytime due to poor coverage), no other retailer will provide cover if you moved house midway through your contract to an area with little or no coverage.

Under current distance selling regulations, all retailers must provide a seven-day returns policy on mobile phones brought over the internet or over the phone.

For information on how Which? members rated their mobile phone network take a look at our network customer satisfaction survey. For advice on obtaining refunds head over to our guide to mobile phone returns and exchanges.

Do you want to see mobile phone networks and retailers doing more to make refunds easier to obtain? Head over to Which? Conversation to join the debate on this hot topic.

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