We helped Gillian when she had an issue with a smart phone she paid for with using her e-money account.

What happened

Gillian saw a well-known brand of smartphone listed on an online auction website. She bought it for £50 using her e-money account.

When the phone was delivered, she found it was a brand she’d never heard of and that all the functions were displayed in Chinese. She complained to the seller, who said she had no grounds for a refund as he’d never suggested the phone was made by the well-known brand.

Gillian asked the e-money business to help her get her money back. But it also told her she couldn’t claim a refund because the phone hadn’t been described in a way that suggested it was made by the well-known brand. And it said she should have realised the phone wasn’t a premium brand because of its low price.

Gillian referred her complaint to us.

Our decision

Although we don’t cover complaints about the sellers of goods in this kind of situation, we do cover complaints about e-money businesses.

We looked at the terms and conditions of Gillian's e-money account. These said she was entitled to a refund from the e-money business in certain circumstances, including where goods differed significantly from the seller's description of them.

We checked the description of the phone that had appeared on the auction website. We felt this was clearly intended to suggest the phone was made by the well-known brand. The brand was not only mentioned in the heading but was also referred to several times in the description.

We accepted the asking price was unusually low – and might therefore have aroused suspicion. But we thought the description would have led any reasonable person to believe they were buying a phone made by the well-known brand.

We told the e-money business to refund Gillian the amount she’d paid for the phone and to reimburse her for all related postage costs, including the cost of returning the phone.