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A cautionary tale about getting cash for your old mobile

Over the last 12 months, dozens of sites promising you cash for your old, unwanted mobile phone have popped up. But can we trust them all?

Recently, I upgraded my iPhone 3G to an iPhone 4 and decided to exchange my trusty old 3G for cold, hard cash.

Swept up in an uncharacteristic rush of organised enthusiasm, I hopped straight onto the internet and used a comparison site, SellMyMobile.co.uk, to find a recycler. Being a rather mercenary and cash-strapped type of girl, I went with the company promising the most money (wonga!) for my handset.

This company was SimplyRecycle. I’m not going to link to them, you’ll soon see why.

Promising £140 for my iPhone 3G 8GB, the company’s site looked good and I even called the number on the website to double-check the process. Everything seemed to be in order, so I duly filled in the order form, wiped my iPhone and popped it in the post, recorded delivery.

On November 3rd I received an email confirmation saying that my order was being processed. Happy days, thought I. That £140 will come in extremely handy for buying Christmas presents.

Cut to two weeks later: still no sign of my £140 bank transfer. Being a polite person, I sent a friendly email asking for an update. A week later, I sent a slightly frostier email. Several days later I tried calling, only for the call to ring out. I tried again. And again. And again.

Finally, I resorted to an email threatening them with legal action and letting Simply Recycle know that I was going to publish this story. Still no response.

I spoke to Keir McConomy, MD of SellMyMobile, the comparison site which led me to SimplyRecycle in the first place, and he told me that other customers have experienced similar problems with SimplyRecycle.

“When we first started working with SimplyRecycle, we had absolutely no problems. We vet all our recyclers and SimplyRecycle passed all our tests; they were very communicative, paid their invoices on time and we had no complaints. But we first received complaints from other customers a few weeks ago and as a result we’ve removed them from our site.”

It’s not just me that’s out of pocket – a number of other people have sent their handsets off and received not so much as a brass farthing and, according to McConomy, SimplyRecycle owes SellMyMobile a significant sum of money too.

So what next? Well, probably not much. The premises that SimplyRecycle was operating from is now an estate agents, and as the company continues to ignore phone calls and emails, that’s pretty much that. The website remains online, however, and there are a number of other comparison sites that still feature SimplyRecycle’s prices.

There’s a valuable lesson to be learnt here. When it comes to recycling your old mobile, do your research. Don’t just automatically go with the company offering you the highest price: Google them, check message boards for disgruntled customers and if you have even the slightest suspicion, don’t send them your phone.

There are a number of big names in the mobile phone recycling field – you know the ones, their ads are on TV every three minutes – so you can probably trust the likes of Mazuma Mobile and co.

I feel pretty silly for not following my own advice. With hindsight, sending a company my mobile phone and simply trusting that it will pay out seems like a huge leap of faith, and I can’t believe I entered into it so lightly. I’d advise you to learn from my mistakes – I know I will.

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