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Mobile phones

I damaged my mobile phone, and I had to give it back to be repaired. Do I have to pay the bills even if I cannot make any calls?

Unfortunately, yes. You may still be liable for charges if your mobile phone is broken or lost, even if you cannot make any calls because you don’t have a working phone. When you sign a contract you commit to paying your monthly charges for the term of that contract regardless of whether you use your phone or not. What you can do is to ask your retailer about a substitute mobile that you can use while yours is being repaired. Similarly, if your phone is stolen, you should inform the retailer immediately so that you will not be liable for bills run up by the thief. The CAI thinks it is unfair of telecom companies to charge consumers in these circumstances and urges them to change their policies in the interests of good customer service.

I bought a SIM card from one of the telecommunication companies. I should be paying 10c per minute for international calls but according to my bill, I am being charged 30c. What can I do?

When goods are purchased, the consumer forms a contract with the seller. Under this contract the consumer has a legal right to expect that the goods will be of merchantable quality, fit for their purpose and as described. The description must not be misleading, whether goods are described in a written brochure, or orally by a salesperson. Many phone contracts are subject to variation clauses, which allow the retailer to change the terms and conditions, including call rates. You should read your contract carefully, making sure that you understand it all. In this case, if there are no variation clauses, your provider may be misleading you and breaching the contract. In that case you should contact your retailer, make a complaint and ask for a refund. If you receive no satisfaction, you should consider contacting the National Consumer Agency or making a claim to the Small Claims Court. You can also contact the Commission for Communications Regulation if you wish to make a complaint about a provider.

I recently bought a mobile phone and I found it faulty. The keys are sticking. Should I send it to the manufacturer? Who can I complain to?

According to the Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Act, 1980, goods must be of merchantable quality and fit for their purpose. If your new mobile phone is faulty, it does not meet these conditions and you are entitled to a remedy. Remember, you should only deal with the company you bought the phone from, rather than the manufacturer – your contract is with the seller, not the manufacturer. The retailer is obliged to repair or exchange your mobile for a new one.

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