Product Promotion Network

Recycling your mobile phone? Beware the empty price ‘promise’

I m an idiot, I don t mind admitting it. In a fit of stupidity, and only seeing pounds signs, I was lured in by flashy marketing and failed to read the small print when looking to make some extra cash. I sent off an old mobile phone to a gadget recycling company without checking its credentials or terms of business and it nearly cost me dear.

RapidRecycle.co.uk1, part of Goodbye Gadgets2, quoted me 26.75 for my old Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini. It was in full working order with only one or two scratches and chips. There were three options when describing it: new, working and faulty. I picked working. Super prices! We pay what we quote, the website boasts. Don t trust other recyclers with their overinflated prices. Rapid Recycle will only give you the best!

Mobile phone recycling is big business. There are scores of online companies offering cash for old handsets. The phones are then recycled, which usually involves sending them to overseas markets such as the Middle East, Africa and South America, or used for parts. Unfortunately, in my case RapidRecycle failed to live up to its marketing. It claimed the handset had too much damage, reduced its offer to 8.76 and pointed to its terms and conditions. I had the option to decline, but and here s the real sting in the tail I d have to pay 7.99 to get my phone back. I felt I d been had. I had the option to decline, but and here s the real sting in the tail I d have to pay 7.99 to get my phone back

Emma Lunn

Worse still, there was no opportunity for negotiation. I had three days to pay the postage or RapidRecycle would assume I had accepted the price. All this was in the small print which, yes, I had failed to read.

At the time, RapidRecycle didn t have a phone number on its website and only accepted complaints in writing inevitably impossible within the three days. After a letter and numerous emails, all mentioning my job as a journalist, the company eventually returned my phone for free. I later sold it on eBay for 30. Other RapidRecycle customers, who contacted Guardian Money via Twitter, weren t so fortunate. Bert Atherton was quoted 121 for his iPhone 5s, but RapidRecycle re-offered 24 after receiving it. Atherton declined and paid 3.99 to get it back, describing the company s customer service as non-existent. Similarly, Jo Bardsley had a 50 quote reduced to 25. RapidRecycle simply deemed her as accepting the re-offer and kept her phone. My issue is, working doesn t mean factory perfect , she says.

Unfortunately RapidRecycle isn t the only such site to reduce quotes after receiving mobiles and other gadgets. Ipad recycling site plunc.com3 carried out what it claims was an objective test on rivals. It sent off fully working iPads with no significant wear and tear to 15 companies. Of those, 40% reduced their original offer upon receipt, while five paid later than promised. The worst offender, which it wouldn t name, claimed the iPad was faulty and offered just 8.

Sellmymobile.com4 is one of several comparison sites which list the different prices paid by different sites. However, it doesn t record what percentage of gadgets are paid at the original quoted price. Its founder, Keir McConomy, advises customers to check reviews before sending off their gadgets. At sellmymobile we constantly monitor customer feedback and if we are getting complaints about a company we will change its star rating to reflect any negative feedback. If a recycler continues to get bad feedback then we will remove them from our site, he says. Some faults such as screen burn and pixel damage can be innocently overlooked by the seller

Charlo Carabott, MazumaMobile

One thing customers should look out for is any charge to return a gadget if a reduced offer isn t acceptable. MusicMagpie5, iGadgetsRecycled6, MazumaMobile7, MobileCashMate8 and Envirofone9 all claim to do so free of charge.

Charlo Carabott of MazumaMobile says about 6% of devices sent to his company are re-quoted. A video guide on the site helps customers accurately assess their device prior to sending it. The most common reason for re-quoting is when someone tries to sell a device as working , but once received and tested it is found to have a damaged/faulty/defective screen. Some faults such as screen burn and pixel damage can be innocently overlooked by the seller, he says. It is important to note we do not deduct value for cosmetic wear and tear scratches, scuffs, etc. We believe this is unfair seeing as the large majority of phones will naturally have scratches and scuffs. Just days after being contacted by the Guardian, RapidRecycle managing director, Dexter Cardy, announced the site was about to go through a significant internal change . He refuses to say what percentage of phones were re-quoted, but claims 75% of re-offers were accepted. Recycle websites are all pricing higher to win traffic, but then have to be more strict regarding the condition once received, he says. This is an untenable and impossible situation. Cardy says RapidRecycle would soon be working with new comparison site OnRecycle10, which would rank recyclers on reviews and not just price. He promises that from 2 May it will offer free returns for all phones re-offered due to cosmetic issues, clearer messaging about the expected condition of an item, and an email system for better handling of complaints.

Sales check list

Check reviews of any site you re thinking of using on Google and Trust Pilot, or search on Twitter using a hashtag and the company name.

Read the small print. How long do you have to accept or reject a re-quote? Is there a charge to have your phone returned if you reject a re-offer?

Check if the company publishes a phone number or details of its complaint process.

Who is the company owned by? Some parent companies own several recycling sites and re-brand those which get a bad reputation.

References

  1. ^ RapidRecycle.co.uk (www.rapidrecycle.co.uk)
  2. ^ Goodbye Gadgets (www.goodbyegadgets.co.uk)
  3. ^ plunc.com (plunc.com)
  4. ^ Sellmymobile.com (Sellmymobile.com)
  5. ^ MusicMagpie (www.musicmagpie.co.uk)
  6. ^ iGadgetsRecycled (iGadgetsrecycled.co.uk)
  7. ^ MazumaMobile (www.mazumamobile.com)
  8. ^ MobileCashMate (www.mobilecashmate.co.uk)
  9. ^ Envirofone (www.envirofone.com)
  10. ^ OnRecycle (www.onrecycle.co.uk)

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