06.Contract and insurance traps
Our research found that consumers are forced to pay monthly fees even when they’ve no phone to use while theirs is being repaired — in some cases, they have to continue to pay for faulty phones that can’t be used or fixed.
When they contacted CHOICE, Gordon and Maria were stuck paying a monthly bill for a phone they couldn’t use — the contract didn’t expire until April 2007 and they didn’t have the time or financial resources to take the matter to the small claims tribunal (they hadn’t been told about the industry ombudsman).
After we contacted 3, the company arranged a replacement phone and credit — a good outcome, but one that wasn’t forthcoming until CHOICE got involved.
Insurance to cover faults may be worthwhile, particularly for expensive phones, but a few readers complained about the high excess (the first part of a claim that you have to pay yourself). It can mean claiming is just not worthwhile.
For example, Peter’s phone broke down just outside its warranty period.
“The excess was $100,” he says. “It was more economical to buy a new phone for $120 instead. I’d been paying around $5 per month for insurance over a couple of years, but my advice is don’t bother with insurance. Now I just buy the cheapest and most basic phone available and don’t lock myself into any contract. If I drop the phone, I just buy another one — it’s cheaper.”