Vodafone Hutchison Australia (VHA) has been hit with court-enforceable undertakings after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) found it breached the Trade Practices Act 1974 and illegally misled customers.
According to the regulatory body, the problems occurred within Hutchison prior to its merger with Vodafone.
“From 1 May 2008 to 8 June 2009… Hutchison created an untenable situation where consumers with 15-day old faulty mobile phones were told they were only entitled to a repair,” ACCC chairman, Graeme Samuel, said in a statement.
“Suppliers of goods and services need to realise the Trade Practices Act implies certain statutory rights into consumer contracts. Mobile phone retailers need to know that often consumers' statutory rights will extend beyond the manufacturers' warranties.”
Both Vodafone and Hutchison customers that took service contracts on or after December 1 will be placed under the new handset replacement and repair structure. Units found to be faulty within 28 days of purchase will be replaced by VHA, while customers on 12- or 24-month contracts will get free repairs for the duration of their plans.
Pre-paid customers who bought phones on or after January 1 will also receive 24-month express repair warranties while those that bought phones prior to this date will get a 12-month warranty.
ARN contacted VHA Australia to ask about the new warranties’ effect on dealers and channel players, but received no response by time of publication.
Samuel said pressure was now on other carriers to offer similar warranties for the duration of their contracts.
"It is simply not good enough that a customer is tied into a service contact for two years when the retailer is only promising to fix a faulty mobile phone for the first 12 months,” he said.