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Thinking of ‘recycling’ your old mobile? Here’s how to avoid being scammed

Robin Bowman

Robin Bowman
Dec 20, 2016

Most of us have old mobile phones lying around the home – who’s interested in an old one when you’ve upgraded after all?

But someone else may well be. That’s why selling them on, or ‘recycling’ has become so popular.

The idea is simple enough. You give the details of your phone to a recycling company and they give you a price. If you like it, you send it off and wait for the cash to arrive.

The trouble is, the idea has become so popular and so simple, it’s allowed scammers to move in. And we get loads of complaints about dodgy businesses.

The number one problem seems to be that you simply don’t get the figure you were promised for your phone.

When the company receives it, they lower the offer. If you refuse, then having it sent back will cost you, so many people will just keel over at this point and take the hit.

Here’s our checklist to ensure this doesn’t happen to you (if you're in the market for a new phone, have a gander at some of the deals currently available on A Spokesman Said).


Act in good faith

This means being honest about the condition of your phone.

If it’s scratched on the back, say so.

You can’t start complaining about a lowered offer if you’ve deliberately failed to mention some imperfection.


Take photos

Photograph the phone to prove its condition.

Make sure it’s working in the pictures and, better still, take a video to show it’s working. If you can, access the battery compartment and film or photograph it to show it’s undamaged.


Know what it’s worth

Before you ask for an offer, check out what others are selling your model for on eBay and the like.

Make sure you compare like with like and bear in mind that what someone is asking for on eBay is likely to be significantly more than a recycling site will pay you.

But at least you’ll get an idea.


Don’t go for a daft price

The old maxim holds true: if it seems too good to be true, then it is!

If the offer you receive is far higher than you know the phone is worth, you should smell a rat.

And you know what it’s worth because you will have checked out multiple sellers of exactly the same phone (same age, spec, etc) on eBay, GumTree and other sites.


Shop around

Don’t jump at the first price you’re offered, but get a few and think about accepting what seems most realistic from the company with the best reputation.

How do you know about reputation?  You….


Read reviews

Take a few minutes to look up the company you’re dealing with.

A couple of poor reviews amid a string of glowing ones that seem genuine is probably fine.

But if all you see are warnings, steer clear, however much you’re being offered.


Challenge a lowered offer

If the company receives your phone but decides to lower their offer, challenge it. If you’ve been honest about the condition, you’ll be on better ground because you’ll know you’re in the right.

Claiming ‘water damage’ is a favourite because you often can’t see it, only its effects. This is where your video and photo evidence comes in.

If the company still won’t budge, they are probably scammers, so demand your phone back and let people know about your experience by reviewing and contacting us at A Spokesman Said.


Say ‘no’ to freepost

It might seem attractive to use the freepost envelope provided by many companies, but be cautious.

What happens when your parcel ‘goes missing in the post’? You have no proof you even sent it.


Don’t forget to wipe

Never rely on a third party to wipe your mobile.

Do it yourself by doing a factory reset. It’s never difficult, but if you don’t know how to do it, Google it for your phone type.


Consider selling direct

Recycling companies work well for many people because they make flogging your phone so simple.

But if maximising the cash you get is a priority, then selling to an individual direct, through eBay, GumTree, etc is a better option.


Give it away

Alternatively, you could come over all altruistic and decide to give your phone to charity.

Most will do what you could have done and recycle it, but the money will be going to a good cause.

Just a thought!