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Is this really a "fair" phone? The story of how I learned to hate Fairphone in just one week


#1

On Tuesday, Feb 5, I paid for and picked up a Fairphone from an official partner shop (listed and recommended on fairphone.com). On Wednesday, I found out it’s faulty and keeps getting stuck in a restart loop. I tried for many hours to fix it by following all their instructions in online troubleshooting (and forum posts). But no luck. Finally I gave up and decided to return it (as it seemed to really be a hardware problem). I went to return it on Saturday (as most people who work all week usually do such things on Saturdays!). To my surprised they said since it’s a Fairphone (and not any other common brand) they can’t do anything but to send it to Fairphone official repairshop as it is still in the guarantee !!

I insisted that I “paid for a new and fully functional device” and I should get one and it is NOT MY FAULT THEY SOLD ME A DEFECTED PHONE without my knowledge. But no luck. In the EU, customer always has the right to claim (usually within two weeks) when they are sold a faulty product whether a car, house, or even a T-shirt !

Why should I get punished for their mistake? No matter what, it is always their responsibility as the producer to provide their customer with the product and quality they’ve paid for. It is their responsibility to make sure their product is provided to the customer without damage and in the promised state and quality. It is their responsibility to fix the issue and keep the customer satisfied. It’s true that Fairphone is meant to be eventually repaired by the consumer, but being provided with a new and fully functional device at the time of the purchase is just common sense!

I wrote on Fairphone’s facebook page, but they didn’t respond. It seems they don’t really give a crap as long as they already have my money.

Now I ask if it really is a “fair phone”? It definitely isn’t fair to me the trusting customer who believes in paying more to support their cause.


#2

I don’t see any criticism for Fairphone here. The shop who sold you a faulty device and didn’t take it back clearly messed up. That has nothing to do with Fairphone.


#3

Hello @shida,
I’m very sorry to hear what has happened to you and I agree with @paulakreuzer that the selling shop should deal with the problem and replace your device or take it back.
If you want to contact Fairphone directly and also get their help I’d propose you use the official customer support ( #contactsupport ) instead of contacting them via Facebook. I’m sure this kind of contact will work more reliably.
I hope you’ll soon have a perfectly working device!
Best,
Volker


#4

Thanks for the reply. First of all, the device is coming directly from Fairphone and it’s their brand on it so it is their responsibility that the stuff in the package is actually working! Second, the shop told me the reason they can’t do anything else is that it is fairphone. They said if it was sony, samsung or etc. they would. Also as you remember, when the stupid samsung galexy explosive stuff happened, the company took the phones back. It is ALWAYS companies responsibility. At the shop (which is the official partner registered and listed on Fairphone website, so it’s also on Fairphone with whom they chose to work) they told me they can’t send it back when the company (Fairphone) doesn’t take it back. According to them, this comes from Fairphone, and they have better service for other usual brands.
I actually guessed that it is the battery (hardware) that is faulty. I could order one online, but why should I? I bought it new and it is also under guarantee.


#5

No, it’s their responsibility to take it back within 14 days if you bought it directly from them or take it back from the shop you bought it from, or after 14 days, but within 2 years after purchase it’s their responsibility to fix or replace it if it breaks and it’s not the users fault.

You obviously had bad luck and talked to a shop employee who has no idea what they talk about. It makes no sense that they wouldn’t have to follow EU rules for an EU brand phone.

That’s different. That was a takeback action. Not a normal 14-day return.


#6

Depends on who you paid - as far as I know:

  • If you paid the reseller, they have to provide you with a legal guarantee that you can choose to use. You can also choose to use the commercial guarantee that Faiprhone offers. The second example on the EU consumer portal FAQ is very approriate. A 14-day cooling-off period does not apply to items bought in stores (only distance selling), and your rights to cancellation depend on local variations in consumer law. I’m not sure what the situation is if you order online from the reseller, and then pick up in their shop.
  • If you paid Fairphone directly, and they shipped the device after the order was paid, their returns policy will apply. You can change your mind about the purchase for any reason within 14 days. There is an additional section on DOA phones, which will also apply in your case. Note that even if the phone is DOA, you can notify them that you want to cancel the sale for a refund within those first 14 days.

#7

Taken from the EU consumer FAQ

The seller must then repair or replace your phone free of charge, or reimburse you if repair or replacement is impossible.

From what I remember the seller has the right to choose one of the options where “repair” usually is the least convenient option for the customer (the other two would get you either a different phone or your money back right away; the repair will take time, even more so because the seller is not doing it themselves in your case).

But why they don’t simply give you a replacement Fairphone and manage the repair internally is a good question.

Which partner shop was it by the way?


#8

Hi,
I understand your frustration: everyone wants a working product and no one wants to bring it back to the store. I remember situations where I also had to wait for weeks until my product was being repaired (a stereo for example). It happens with a lot of brands.
Now your question:

I would say: yes. And it shows that Fairphone is even more fair. Not to the customer, but to the workers. I explain myself: Apple, Samsung, etc make a lot of phones and do not have the same respect for the materials. In the end, it doesn’t change much if they have to take back phones, they won’t really lose money. It is more difficult for Fairphone though as getting conflict-free minerals is difficult.
So the real difference is that Fairphone wants to be sure that a phone is faulty before they change it. If they would send new phones all the time, what would they do with the original ones? Throw them away, refurbish them? Apple, Samsung, etc. have another policy. They try to please the customer by changing the phone and checking it afterwards. It may be more convenient for you and for them, but then they have functioning or repairable phones they have to take care of. And do they? I doubt it and they have a very bad reputation with e-waste (see this post for example).
Returning your phone within 2 weeks because you changed your mind is one thing, but getting a new one instead of having it repaired is another one. Maybe I didn’t stick to your original post and your problem was another one, so don’t take it personally, but it was a good post to underline the importance of being a fair customer as well: if your TV is broken, you would like to have a new one directly, you don’t want to send it back for 3-4 weeks to get repaired. But it would be the good thing to do!


#9

By the way:
The 14-day return period is a rule for online-shopping only. It is meant to give you a chance to test the product.
If you are shopping in a local store, you can do the testing locally and you have not 14-day testing period.
Therefore this rule only covers tests you can perform in a shop, e.g. it is not meant to take a tent on a camping tour or wear a dress to a party and return it afterwards.

Legal provisions for faulty devices are something different; they are not what the 14-day return policy is meant for.