Do Comet offer the same service as Apple?

By now all of my regular readers know that I did not queue up at an Apple Store for the iPad 2 launch. Instead I went to a nearby Comet Store where I had heard that there was a short queue and some stock. Even during the short time it took me to drive there, I was in two minds whether to give my business (and cash) to them or to wait for Apple to deliver an online order. My desire for the new device got the better of me and I splashed down £559 of cash.

Over the next few days I went through my normal testing routine, only to find some light bleeding around the edges of the screen (see image - click for zoom). This was very distracting, but I thought that the device was so fantastic, so fast, so smooth that I could live with it.

I guess I made that decision too soon, as on Friday and thru Saturday I experienced the following;

• Screen flashing on exiting apps
• Safari & Mail crashing every ten or so minutes
• Third party apps crashing
• No sound through HDMI

All this on top of the light bleeding sent me over the edge. Not one to run straight to the phone, I tried a complete restore both from backup and a completely fresh start (twice). This restored the sound over HDMI for around an hour, but then even that fault came back. So the phone was in my hand to Apple Tech Support.

I still love Apple, they confirmed it was indeed faulty, but for a straight swap over it meant a three hour drive. To clarify this, Apple were just trying to help, if I did take that drive, they would give me a free case to cover my petrol costs which was really decent of them. The other option was to purchase AppleCare for £61, this would mean they could offer an advanced replacement via courier. However, it would also mean them placing a £559 hold on my credit card which I was not prepared to do. On this news I came to the conlusion that it was surely the retailers problem, so I would try them first and when I got my refund would simply order another iPad online in a few weeks time. So, off I went back to Comet with a list of the issues and a case number from Apple confirming the item as faulty.

Do Comet offer the same service as Apple?
Well, that is easy to answer with a big fat NO! They told me that Apple's policy is to insist that all faulty iPads are not refunded. That they should be sent in for inspection by an engineer. When I said that this had already been done, they refused to help. When I showed them the photo (on my iPhone 4) of the faulty screen, they said that this did not prove it was faulty and that it would need to be sent away.

Manager Time !
The manager was called over and basically said exactly the same, that they were governed by Apple's policy. "It is more than my jobs worth to do it Sir," I was told. Then the sales assistant suggested ringing Apple, which she duly did and Tech Support Nathan supposedly confirmed it would need to be sent in to be inspected. I said a few harsh words and left the store, iPad in hand.

On returning home I rang Apple again. The support notes stated that Nathan had only confirmed to Comet that the case number was valid and the faults did exist. At no stage did he say to Comet that the unit needed to be inspected. So Comet had blatantly lied to me about this. The Senior Tech Support person I was speaking to kindly phoned Comet and then rang me back. They had changed their story yet again, this time admitting it was their head office policy not to refund, but to inspect the item which would take 5-7 working days.

This is most unacceptable. We all know that under the Sales of Good Act 1979, goods must be of satisfactory quality and fit for purpose, which this iPad 2 clearly is not. It also states that the buyer should 'reject it, give it back and get their money back' - so long as this is done in a reasonable time (with a 3-4 week guideline.
Well, I count seven days, so as a matter of principle I will be pursuing a full refund. If Comet won't offer this, then I will take it to Trading Standards.
In addition, MacUser Magazine has expressed an interest in the outcome to this case, so I will be keeping them updated. I have also tried to get in touch with someone at Comet via @cometdeals on Twitter, also copying @forstal and @appleinc in on the tweets.

If you would like to voice your opinion, then please do so. You can leave comments under this article, on my Twitter @geekanoids or via email. If you have concerns with any purchases or you would like to follow Comet on twitter, then please follow @cometdeals - I was also interested to see that they have their own YouTube Channel, so I will also be trying to contact them via YouTube too.

I would like to close this article with an invitation to Comet to respond to my comments above and asking, why as a retail company you have taken this stance and made a decision that breaks consumer law?