11/13/2008 10:57:00 AM
Phones 4u blames complaints on the repairs process
Phones 4u claimed this week that over 80% of the 2,000 complaints that prompted an Ofcom investigation into the retailer were due to failures in its repairs process.
Ofcom concluded its six month-long investigation into the company this week, led by investigations director Neil Buckley with a series of undertakings imposed on Phones 4u.
The investigation is understood to have been triggered by a major spike in complaints made to the Staffordshire trading standards office, which covers the retailer’s Newcastle-under-Lyme headquarters.
It is believed there were around 2,000 complaints from consumers concerning Phones 4u during a three-month period between December 2007 and February 2008.
Customers are understood to have waited weeks, often months, for their phones to be repaired, which were frequently inadequately fixed.
The retailer is understood to have recieved assurances from repairs firm MPRC (formerly a sister company within the Caudwell group) that it would improve service levels. Phones 4u dispensed with MPRC in September 2008 and now uses A Novo. MPRC has since been shut down by parent company, 20:20 Mobile.
Whiting maintains that the repairs crisis during the three-month period was responsible for the company being singled out by the regulator ahead of the upcoming ‘general condition’, in which Ofcom will issue strict new mobile retailing guidelines.
Whiting (pictured) said: ‘By far, the majority of the issues are from the failures in our repairs process. Since we’ve fixed that, complaints have fallen accordingly.’
Ofcom confirmed there had been a major decline in complaints against the company in recent months, but also said it had issued undertakings beyond the repairs process. These include stopping unfair terms in the returns policy and cashback schemes and ‘making misleading, false and deceptive’ claims to customers about network coverage and what is included in bundles.
One source within Ofcom said the regulator is concerned about retailers linking networks they promote to consumers with the network they have the largest commissions to sell, regardless of coverage or the suitability of the package.