Setting aside a County Court Judgement, England
November 3, 2018 12:33 AM   Subscribe

I had a judgment made against me for a debt, which I didn't know about until 2 weeks before the bailiffs turned up. I have applied to have the judgment set aside and will find out in the coming week whether that application has been successful. It's a small sum (big enough) and I will pay up if my application isn't allowed. In the meantime I'm looking for evidence to support my application. Basically in 2010 I was sold a phone that stopped working, I've been looking for reviews of the phone but can't find the right search terms to turn up anything at all about this 8 year old phone or the contract it was sold under. Can anyone help me with search terms, or with making the argument that I was sold an item that was not fit for purpose?

The judgement was made in December of 2014. The reasons why I wasn't aware of the judgment I won't go into here, but they are part of what I'll be presenting. The contract was with T Mobile, the phone was own brand, it stopped working 7 months into the contract, they refused to fix or replace it sending me a letter stating I must have done one of a number of careless things with it, none of which I had done. I had some irate phone calls with them but no other written correspondence that I remember. I still have the phone, which is in pristine condition apart from the fact that it doesn't work. It was my first smart phone.

The debt was later sold to some kind of scalping agency. I have received very good advice not to fight this, which I acknowledge, but here I am.
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (6 answers total)
Have you spoken to Citizens Advice, Which? or some similar agency to get some legal advice on this? There are some complex legal issues involved in deciding not to pay for a consumer product because it is defective. To get away with not paying, you may need to prove not only that the phone was defective but that it was so defective that the defect entitled you to set aside the contract—that could be tricky to do if the phone worked fine and you used it for 7 months. But there is also a lot of consumer protection legislation in this area. I think you really need legal advice on whether you can avoid this debt, and what kind of evidence would be relevant to that. I suggest calling Which or your local CAB if you haven’t already done so.
posted by Aravis76 at 1:03 AM on November 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

Can anyone help me with search terms

Can you post the make and model of the phone?
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:07 AM on November 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

If you don't know the make and model of the phone (you said it's a T-Mobile own brand which will likely be rebadged from a Chinese manufacturer) there should be some identifying number on it which you can Google to find the make and model, and then search again for reviews of that.

For example the Orange Barcelona was just a Huawei device rebroadcast for the UK
posted by toamouse at 1:41 AM on November 3, 2018

GSM Arena has a list of phones from T-Mobile, maybe you can spot it there:
posted by toamouse at 1:43 AM on November 3, 2018

In what way does it not work? Does it turn on? Here in the U.S. I activated a prepaid phone—also my first smartphone—then I think someone else impersonated me, reported my phone lost, and had the phone number transferred to a new phone they'd bought. (I think this person must have originally had the phone number given to me when I activated my phone but had stopped paying their bill and lost it, and hence had extra motivation to re-acquire that specific phone number.)

So I believe the carrier did something to blacklist the phone in their own systems, but their tech support people were trained and incentivized to absolutely refuse to acknowledge in any way that the company had made a mistake... I spent many hours on calls with tech support which would frequently mysteriously cut off while I was supposedly being transferred between departments. I think they compounded their error by insisting that I needed a new SIM card at one point but then sending me one which was SIM locked in some unusual way... using software to look at Android's internal properties it said “PERSO_LOCKED”, which I think would stand for “personalization locked”, “personalization” being the name confusingly given to part of the manufacturing process for the SIM card where it's customized to the phone vendor (like T Mobile) rather than anything to do with the end user. So from past Googlings, maybe it was that the manufacturing process of my new SIM card they'd sent me was incomplete?

In any case, once that didn't fix anything they tried to claim that service coverage had changed in my area just in the handful of days since I'd activated the phone... so I made them tell me if their closest wholly-owned retail store was within a valid coverage area, then drove to that store and when it still didn't work after a couple hours of fiddling, this time by a store clerk and their special “dealer tech support” line, they finally started claiming the phone had become “defective” suddenly since the time I'd bought it and agreed to send me a new one (of a different model) free of charge. Of course, the whole way along they'd been pressuring me to buy some new service or airtime card as a remedy or convince me I was obligated to buy a new phone myself because of the supposed coverage change.

So... perhaps some similar process of examination and testing could prove that your issues with the phone were T Mobile's fault. Or at least demonstrate than none of the things they claimed must have happened in their letter actually happened.
posted by XMLicious at 2:45 AM on November 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

I feel given how long it has been since the judgement you'll struggle to get it set aside unless you have both a compelling reason as to why the delay since 2014 (wrong address,illness etc) and evidence that you tried to resolve it at the time - expert / 3rd party opinion on the fault. Perhaps you could consider a without prejudice offer to settle? I'm sure they'd rather have a smaller amount of money than the hassle of court, even if they're likely to win. Good luck
posted by JonB at 4:55 AM on November 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

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