Law guide: Complaints and disputes

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Telecommunication networks

Telecommunication networks

When you buy a mobile phone, a landline telephone or broadband (connection to the internet), you'll need to be connected to a telecommunications network service provider.

You'll be entering into a contract with the telecommunications network service provider to provide a service and sometimes goods, such as a broadband router.

If you want cancel

If you buy goods (such as a mobile phone) in a shop and you no longer want them, you generally don't have a legal right to return them. The same applies to cancelling services.

If you buy goods or services over the phone or through the internet, you have 14 calendar days to change your mind.

Mobile network suppliers

When you buy a mobile phone, you'll need to be connected to a mobile network provider. You can do this by having a line rental agreement that provides a fixed amount of call time, texts or data, or through buying 'pay as you go' vouchers.

Telephone and broadband suppliers

When you buy a telephone landline connection, it'll usually come with line rental at an extra cost. You can also get broadband from a separate provider. Often, telecommunications providers offer package deals where telephone landlines, line rental and broadband are provided together.

If there is a problem

Disputes can occur if the goods or services don't work or if you're challenging the costs in a bill.

If the telecommunications service and any related goods (such a broadband router) aren't provided at all, or aren't as described, you may be entitled to a refund, compensation or both. If there is a fault with the telecommunications network, you'll probably be entitled to compensation.

You should check if there really is a fault by making sure any supplied device has been set up according to the provided instructions. If you're sure it has, read the terms and conditions of any contract or guarantee.

How to complain

If the fault is with goods you bought from a retailer, you should contact the retailer who sold them to you. If the fault is with the telecommunications network or a SIM card, you should contact the network service provider.

Try to sort it out directly with them first by contacting the customer services and giving them a chance to correct it. Keep a record of all contact, including dates, times and what was said.

If you don't get the outcome you want, put your complaint in writing to a manager (or the head office if the seller is part of a chain) and send a copy to any trade association the seller belongs to.

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

If you haven't received a satisfactory response from the seller, consider using an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) scheme.

This scheme acts as an independent go-between for you and the seller. If the seller is found to be at fault, the ADR scheme can order them to fix the problem and pay any necessary compensation.

There are 2 ADR schemes available:


If you don't get the result you want from the ADR scheme, you can take your complaint to Ofcom.

Ofcom is the communications regulator. It looks at issues like charges on a bill, unfair contract terms, faults and problems with service provisions. It can't deal with your individual complaint, but your information can help it ensure that the seller hasn't broken any of their regulations.

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