According to a survey by the UK consumer affairs magazine, Which? – at least two million of the 18 million mobile phones sold in the UK last year could have been faulty. Handsets are most likely to go wrong during the first six months. Of the one in seven new handsets that go wrong in the first year, 70% developed a fault within six months.
The 3 network has the worst record – around one in three mobiles on this network developed a problem within 12 months according to the report.
This may be because the brand-new, hi-tech products offered by 3 are prone to teething problems. Networks offering more of the longer-established models in their ranges, such as Virgin and Tesco, fare better for handset reliability.
Some handset brands themselves have more problems than others. Motorola and Sony Ericsson handsets were the most likely to go wrong; about a fifth of owners reported faults. Nokia and Samsung were the most reliable, although about one in ten users still had faulty phones.
To make it worse, people are finding it difficult to get problems rectified. By law, if a phone develops a fault within six months and the shop can’t show it was the customer’s fault, the shop must sort out the problem.
However, over a quarter of people surveyed said they were unhappy with the way their query was handled when they experienced a problem with their mobile phone.
Malcolm Coles, editor, Which?, says “A one-in-seven chance your phone’s going to develop a fault is way too high. Not only that, but retailers who should be bending over backwards to help customers who’ve already suffered the inconvenience of a fault aren’t giving people the help they need when they complain.”