Q: I bought a mobile phone for my boyfriend as a Christmas gift. When I asked about the warranty, the seller informed me it has a one-year warranty and that if a problem crops up I just need to provide the receipt as proof of guarantee.

A week after the purchase, the phone’s button stopped working and I returned it to the seller. At first I was told that the phone would be fixed the following day but later I was informed that the repair would take a week or two.

The seller also told me that in order to get the phone fixed under warranty I needed to return the phone’s original box. The problem is that I no longer have the box because when I purchased the phone the seller did not mention the need to keep the box for the warranty’s validity. Furthermore, the sales representative had told me I only needed the receipt to make a claim under warranty.

Eventually, the seller agreed to fix my boyfriend’s phone without the package but only once. They said I would not be entitled to another free repair should another problem crop up. So, basically, since the seller did not inform me about the need to keep the box, my one-year warranty turned into a three-week warranty – as now, if the phone breaks again, I am no longer entitled to a free repair.

Do I have any rights?

A: As a consumer, the mobile phone purchased is automatically legally covered by a two-year protection. The one-year guarantee mentioned by the seller is the commercial warranty, which is a voluntary guarantee given by sellers that cannot diminish consumers’ rights but only provide additional benefits. In other words, the one-year commercial guarantee mentioned by the seller does not take away your two-year legal protection.

The law gives you the right to claim a free remedy from the seller if the phone turns out to be faulty during the two-year time frame – unless the mobile phone’s defect is caused by an accident or misuse. To claim a free remedy from the seller, all you need is the proof of purchase. You do not need the mobile phone’s box.

Hence, it is not true that you are not entitled to a free remedy should another problem crop up with your phone. If this happens and the seller refuses to provide you with a  free remedy, then you may lodge a complaint with the Office for Consumer Affairs.