In September it was announced that independent mobile retailer Phones 4u when into administration. Cynically this news came just days before the launch of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, which many Phones 4u customers had pre-ordered.
Phones 4u administrators PwC have confirmed that they will not honour nor refund any existing iPhone orders, potentially leaving thousands of customers out of pocket.
If you’ve pre-ordered an iPhone, or anything else form Phones 4u before the collapse, don’t panic, you might still get your money back.
Credit card orders
If you ordered your iPhone (or any other product from Phones 4u) by credit card, then you are protected by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. In a nutshell, the credit card company is liable and should refund you the full amount paid. In the eyes of the law, it’s as if they sold you phone in the first place.
It’s important to note that Section 75 only applies to credit cards and for goods costing between £100 and £30,000. The good news is that even if only part for purchase was paid for on a credit card, the card provider is still liable. The even better news is that your iPhone 6 order almost certainly meets these criteria. Now all you need to do is get in touch with your card issuer.
The law here is very clear – if what you ordered cost £100 or more and you paid the entire sum or even one penny of it on a credit card then you’ll get all your money back. This handy piece of consumer law works because of how credit cards operate. When you make a purchase you are actually borrowing the money, so your credit card company is as liable as the retailer if the order isn’t fulfilled.
What if I paid by debit card?
While debit card purchases are not protected under the Consumer Credit Act, but there is a remedy to get your money back via the Chargeback system. This applies to Visa and MasterCard payments including Electron, Maestro and pre-paid cards. The Chargeback system isn’t enshrined in law, but if you present your case to your bank there is a good chance that you’ll be reimbursed.
You’ve got 120 days of the order date to make your claim so it’s best not to hang around. We recommend that you fist contact your bank to find out how they handle Chargeback claims, as some will require details in writing, whilst others might be able to open claims over the phone.
What if I paid cash or my bank rejects my claim?
If your bank refuses to recognise your Chargeback claim, you can take up your case with the Financial Ombudsman. The Ombudsman can’t give you your money back, but they can instruct the bank to review your claim, and instruct them to honour it. In addition to this, or if you paid cash up front, you can take up your case with the appointed administrator PwC. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that you’ll get all or any of your money back. You will be classed as an unsecure creditor and therefore only paid after all other creditors to the business.
More information on the administration process is available on the Phones 4u website. The page provides contact details for creditors, and advice on filing your claim.