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Blaydon mum who fought ‘useless’ phone insurance wins £720 payout

A broken iPhone inevitably means an expensive repair bill, but Denise Chisholm wasn’t too worried when she took her daughter’s phone to be repaired.

Denise, from Blaydon, had been paying £11 insurance each month for more than two years, so she was confident she would have no problems when she took the phone back to the Metrocentre branch of Carphone Warehouse. But the nurse was not expecting what happened next – when the assistant at the store told her she could not claim for the damage under the retailer’s Geek Squad phone insurance, as Apple had stopped producing the model.

Denise, who works in the Special Care Baby Unit at Gateshead’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital, was told that because the policy only replaced on a like-for-like basis, she was not entitled to a replacement or repair as the model was no longer available.

“I said to the assistant that it wasn’t worth the paper it was written on – and she agreed with me,” said Denise, 57. “It was useless, but it was only when I came to make a claim that I found this out. I had been paying into the policy since the phone was new, and my daughter had had it a few years, and for a lot of the time, it would not have been able to pay out. The phone screen was cracked and the whole device had gone black and needed replacing. I was so cross.”

Denise filled in a complaint for instore, then decided to take things further and engaged legal firm Barings to take up the case on her behalf. She forgot all about it until she had a letter from Barings, saying her complaint had been upheld. “I was asked for my bank account details and address, and to be honest, I was suspicious,” said Denise. “There had been a lot happening in between me filling in the form and hearing back, and my daughter had a new phone and contact, so it was all forgotten about.”

Barings Law took a £570 fee from the total amount she was rewarded for a refund and compensation, leaving her with £720, which she said she is delighted with.

“I’m glad I didn’t just accept what I was told,” she said. “If the insurance company stopped honouring claims when a phone was discontinued, customer should have ben told then. It was completely unfair. To be told that the insurance that I’d been paying monthly for was basically worthless was incredibly frustrating. There’s no point in having it for something if you can’t make a claim when something goes wrong!”

Carphone Warehouse has acknowledged that there is a problem with mis-selling of insurance products. On its website, a notice states: “The Financial Conduct Authority has concluded an investigation into historic Geek Squad Mobile Phone Insurance selling processes in Carphone Warehouse stores. The FCA’s investigation has focussed specifically on selling processes between December 2008 and June 2015 and has found some areas where, in that period, they consider that Carphone Warehouse did not meet expected standards. As a result of these findings, the FCA has imposed a fine on the company.

“It’s clear that in a number of cases between 2008 and June 2015 we didn’t meet the standards our customers expect and – as the FCA has acknowledged – since 2015, Carphone Warehouse has made significant improvements to its sales processes, complaints handling and monitoring. Carphone Warehouse has worked very closely with the FCA throughout their investigations.