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Lois Avery

Mobile phone recycling: Don’t fall into this trap

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Make sure you check the small print before trying to take advantage of one of the web’s many mobile phone recyclers.

A pile of phones

You wouldn’t put cash in an envelope and send it off via Royal Mail, would you? Yet it seems that plenty of people are happy to send of old or unused mobile phones, often of high value, to recycling companies without checking their credentials or terms of business first.

The TV adverts promise no-hassle money-making. All you have to do is send the recycling company your old mobile and they’ll send you a cheque in return.

But more and more people are complaining that some firms are taking their phones but not sending them the full amount they were expecting.

And in some cases, consumers who decide they are unhappy with the final deal offered by the recycler can even be charged a significant sum simply for having their phone returned.

One customer’s experience

Confused.com customer, Heather Pedrick, got in touch to say she’d had problems with online recycling company SellOldPhone.co.uk.

After accepting an online quote of £49 for her mobile she sent her handset off, in what she describes as, “perfect working condition”.

“Within a few days I got a cheque for £20 and a letter informing me that my phone was water damaged therefore my payment had been reduced,” she said.

“My phone has never been water damaged, so I returned their cheque and asked for the return of my property. I didn't hear anything so emailed them only to be told that they would only return my phone if I paid them an administration fee of £20.”

After a bit of research, we found that Mrs Pedrick isn’t the only one. Online forums are full of complaints from SellOldPhone.co.uk customers, all with the same story.

We contacted SellOldPhone.co.uk but a spokesman simply referred us to its online terms and conditions page.

According to the T&Cs, SellOldPhone.co.uk will downgrade the phone - and pay less -  if it fails to meet their standards, and provides a long list of possible defects that might result in a lower offer. It also says that customers will be notified by post.

Mrs Pedrick says that SellOldPhone.co.uk should have notified her of these criteria during the quote process.

“The only criteria I had to choose from were non-working, working or damaged. I chose working, as my phone was indeed a fully working phone .

“I feel this company can take anyone's phone for an agreed price and then reduce it by saying it has damage which, because the phone is then in their possession, is impossible for the original owner to prove otherwise.”

Top tips for selling your phone

  • Compare prices for your phone at a number of online recycling sites.

  • Be wary of any site offering a much higher price than their rivals - there's being competitive, but a marked difference may prove the saying "if it sounds too good to be be true then it usually is".

  • Once you have found a recycling firm you like, do a quick online search to find out what other customers have had to say about it. While not a foolproof way of researching a company, this should  give you some guide as to their customer reputation.

  • Before parting with your phone, read the firm's terms and conditions. Yes, it may take time, but it won't cost you any money - which could happen if you send your phone to the wrong site.

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