/ Technology

Recycling mobile phones – it’s not always rewarding

A pile of obsolete mobile phones

There is a rumbling of discontent on the internet. Nothing new there, you may say, but this particular rumble relates to companies who buy old mobile phone handsets. Have you recycled your old phone for cash?

There are plenty of these mobile phone recycling companies out there: Cash4phones, Mazuma Mobile, Envirofone and Fonebank, to name but a few.

These companies quote you a price for your old mobile phone, based on its condition. Once you’ve sent them your phone, they’ll verify the condition and pay you the agreed price. These phones are then ‘recycled’, which usually involves sending them to overseas markets to be sold in places like the Middle East, Africa and South America.

Feeling short-changed

Some of you aren’t happy, however. Check any review site, and you’ll find plenty of complaints about these services. The amount paid out for those old phones is not always quite as generous as first quoted. It seems that in some cases you are sending in your pristine phones, only to find that the company’s valuation differs from your expectations.

We’ve been sent quite a few complaints about these companies, with people telling us that they’ve sent their phones off for an agreed price, only to have the quote lowered once it’s in the hands of the company.

The main reason for reduced valuations seems to be wear and tear, even for phones that owners felt were in a very good condition. While all these companies should send the phone back to you if you don’t agree to their revised quote, you may be charged for the privilege. This has left some people feeling they’re being held to ransom with no option but to accept the lower quote.

Have you used a phone recycling service? Were you happy with the service, or did you receive a lower offer than expected?

Comments
Member

I haven’t used a recycling service because I have only possessed two mobile phones in my life. The first one was stolen along with my handbag, and its replacement is the one I still use, a decade on.

If it is so difficult to “recycle” old mobile phones for cash, why don’t we think twice before replacing the ones we’ve got, and if we must replace them, through genuine need or because clever adverts have managed to brainwash us, why not donate our old mobiles to charity? The experience will be more rewarding.

Member
George says:
9 November 2015

Are u mad? Give my old phone to charity that costs £200? Where I could just recycle it for £200? U do the math brainwashed or not, truth is u sounds very very old and u are happy with ur Nokia 3310 but I like my gadgets and keeping up with society It don’t necessary make me brain washed but makes u sound tight af to go buy a new phone.

Member

George you have just called sophie “mad ” and “old ” I take it you mean that in a derogatory fashion -as in senile/decrepit/ ready for the scarp yard etc and also question her Humanitarianism as well as saying she is mean. Its well seeing you are a young whippersnapper around 18 years old who sits in his jammies playing with the latest Playstation having never developed the correct social interaction with the public and gets his ideas from the “social media” maybe in 40 years you will gain some wisdom. Try to treat females better with sympathy and understanding.

Member
David Royle says:
1 November 2012

Yes Cash4phones gave me the runaround recently. The original quote for my Nokia was halved due to ‘excessive wear and tear’ which was manifestly not the case. When challenged the offer was doubled but then I got thephone back and the £8.95 postage charge was made. I complained again but no reply. I am now trying Carphone Warehouse which SEEMS more honest. We’ll see. I gave the other phone away.

Member

Some charity shops are keen to have your old mobiles, there is still a 2ndhand market even for the “old” basic Nokias and any that cant be sold get to sent to a recycling company who pay ( a small amount ) to the charity.

Member
David Royle says:
1 November 2012

Yes mine has gone to help school funds

Member

I’ve still got my first and only mobile ‘phone. It’s analogue and was on the BT (Now O2) network.

When the analogue service was phased out, or arbitrarily switched off as I prefer to put it, I was so relieved that I was once again free from people being able to contact me anywhere and everywhere at any time of my life, that I never bothered to get another.

Result!

Member

It does not surprise me that companies will offer very little for a second-hand mobile phone. They will have to provide some sort of warranty if they sell it and take the chance that it has a fault that might not be apparent from a brief inspection.

I have not been lucky with mobile phones and have never had anything worth selling or giving away.

Member

I would never use one of those recycling services, they would never give you market value for your phone. If I ever have a phone to sell, it goes on ebay, and I usually get a good result. It takes a bit more effort to set an auction of course, compared to using a recycling service or poppping in your local CEX shop, but it’s worth the effort in my opinion.

Member

This is especially true of older phones for which recycling services will often give you nothing for them.

However on Ebay or in charity shops they usually make a few £££

Member

Myself and my family have used envirofone and mazuma mobile a couple of times in the last few years and have yet to have a problem. In fact, one phone I was sure would be marked down for wear and tear got approved no problem. Maybe we’re just lucky?

Member
Anthony says:
7 November 2012

I’ve used these companies before, well one of them, Fonebank. It helped to shop around first for the best price. I found them honest and they paid the valuation originally offered with no problems at all.

I always carefully wrapped and protected the phone to make sure it reached them in the same condition it left me and I’m sure this helped.

Member
DAVID ROYLE says:
7 November 2012

I actually have had a very good experience with Carphone Warehouse for another phone, quite the opposite to Cash4Phones: quick and no quibbles. Mind you I don’t know if what I got was true value!!

Member
Tim Butler says:
8 November 2012

The re-cycling of used mobile phones for charity or other causes is a bit misleading.
I don’t know how much research people do on these matters but if you research the re-cycling of used mobile phones, I’m sure you’ll find that the dismantling and recovery of precious metals including gold has quite a lot to do with it.
And before anyone decides to jump up and down about this, just think about what has happened with the price of gold recently and then remember how many “cash for gold” shops have sprung up all over the place.
It’s as bad as those adverts on TV offering cash loans and flashing the interest rates up for a Milli second in a washed out white text that you cant read. If you knew it was 1745% you’d think it was a mistake but I kid you not, that’s the exorbitant rate some of these companies charge and it really annoys me that governments do nothing to protect joe public from these sharks.
Disgusting.

Member
Carl Hubbers says:
12 November 2012

Money Saving Expert has a great tool that will tell you which recycling company will pay the most for your old phone.

http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/phones/mobile-recycling

Once you know who will pay the most it’s worth seeing if you can get any cashback from a site like Quidco http://www.quidco.com/

Member
Steph says:
16 January 2013

DONOT use recyclemysmartphone.com! I was told my HTC one x would be £185 so sent it on 13/12/12. Heard nothing so emailed on 11/1/13 and was told money was on the way! We got £148!!! When I queried this I was told I’d been sent an email with a revised total on 20/12/12, I didn’t!! I would have requested phone back if I had! It says normal wear and tear is acceptable and that’s all my phone had wrong with it!! It’s about the fact they have lied and called me a liar!! After emailing back 18 minutes after getting their email I got an out of office reply!! thanks Daniella Lake, for nothing!! Reporting to trading standards and police tomorrow!!

Member
Craig Bunyan says:
28 January 2013

Hi, did you ever get anywhere with reporting recyclemysmartphone.com

Member
Tim Butler says:
19 November 2013

Any update on the “Daniella Lake” story?
Any replies from recyclemysmartphone?

Member
steph says:
1 February 2013

Craig, I didn’t although I was offered my phone back but it would have cost over £20 to do this So put it down to experience!!

Member
XanderP says:
25 February 2013

Not all cell phone recyclers are scammers. Companies such as http://www.sellmycellphones.com in America claim to only compare the prices on offer from America’s most reputable recyclers so maybe comparison sites are the way forward.

Member
Robert James says:
15 March 2013

I have been using moneyforyourphone.com over the last 4 years. They seem to have consistently offered the best prices for iphones/blackberries and HTC. Their service is smooth and they always fulfill their promise.would highly recommend MFYP

Member
Steve Smith says:
4 April 2013

Cash4phones.co.uk, I was quoted £30.00 for my I Phone 3, the best price of a number of companies. Sent the phone off, received an email to say back of phone had excessive wear and tear on the back (untrue) and revised price was £6 (yes six pounds). They told me I had two choices, accept, or pay £8.95 to get the phone sent back. This charge was not mentioned on the website section on how the deal works (only tucked three clicks away in a ream of Terms and Conditions). I have refused to pay the charge as it was not made clear at point of sale, but, they have not returned my phone. I am going to go to the police, (cannot imagine them helping me) but I am so angry I am going to try.

[This comment has been slightly edited for breaking our commenting guidelines. Thanks, mods.]

Member
Steve Smith says:
19 November 2013

Exactly the same happened to me, same company, same phone, same quoted price, same lousy revised price. Surely this bunch cannot be allowed to continue to trade like this, why does trading standards not step in and stop this quickly? It has gone on for far too long.

Member
Tim Butler says:
19 November 2013

Any update?

Member
Rebeccles says:
16 April 2013

Cash4phones.co.uk offered £150 for iPhone 4 in perfect condition! Literally not a scratch on it. I have photos of the phone from every angle on the day it was posted. Wrapped in layers of bubble wrap, inside a jiffy envelope, inside the original box ( it could not move and was extremely well padded)

They are now telling me the screen has excessive scratching and are offering me … £32. Absolute joke! I am 100% sure the phone was not scratched.

So now I take £32 or PAY THEM £9 to return my phone which having had dealings with them now I do not trust to return my phone in a sellable condition.

Worst company I have ever dealt with. Do not sell your phone to cash4phones!!!

[This comment has been edited for breaking our commenting guidelines. Thanks, mods.]

Member
Paul says:
1 July 2013

Exactly the same happened to me and when I now read other reviews, it would appear that cash4phones are not very ethical in their trading

Member
wahidazzlar says:
18 April 2013

Mobilephonerecycling2day offered £42.14 for my used working phone, i get an email saying “its in poor condition” and they’re now offering me £14.14 or to send it back £9.95, it’s ridiculous, i’m more out of pocket than i was before, they don’t even pick up their phone or email me back ffs. Fricking furious!!!

[This comment has been edited for breaking our commenting guidelines. Thanks, mods.]

Member
Drioz says:
1 May 2013

I can only confirm what wahidazzlar said. Sent a phone to Mobilephonerecycling2day which was valued £59 as working. Once they received it, they offered £21.83 instead because of “excessive wear and tear”, while the phone was perfectly working and had no major scratches. I sold it just because I upgraded to a new one.

Even worse, they never replied to a message sent to them using the form on their website.

Member

Hello everyone, thank you for your comments. We’re looking into mobile phone recycling services. It would be a big help if you had any photos of your phone’s condition before you sent it off. If you do, please send to conversation.comments@Which.co.uk Thanks

Member
MARK says:
29 July 2015

..Also in the last few days Argos has been trumpeted for paying gift vouchers for old handsets to then be ‘recycled’ – Hah, thats a joke – more like ‘refurbished’ and then sold in some far flung African state. I took 4 old handsets, all working & in very good condition – granted, they’re what you may call ‘dumb phones’ from a few years ago, but still worth a few quid on ebay.. A Nokia 3410,5140.3100 and a Samsung handset – What did they offer me by way of vouchers? £0.00. Bottom line here is they’re not interested in recycling, they’re just interested in getting your ‘hi-tech’ gadgets for pennies so a third party can flog them abroad for a profit, otherwise they’d at least give you something for your decade old dumb phone if they were serious about recycling in the first place.Just like alot of ‘green issues’ such as windfarms- making a few people very rich.

Member
Sean says:
20 August 2013

I have recently used mobilephonerecycling2day.co.uk and experienced a similar problem described above. I was originally offered £120 for an iPhone 4 but was later offered only £40, due to excessive wear and tear (scratches etc). I tried to request the phone back the website would not allow me to contact them back, the contact us page was also not working. No telephone number was listed on the website so I was not able to call them to address issue.

The website listed Trading Devices Ltd as the parent company, based in Bounds Green (Company Registration Number 07734160), so i searched for them and found a business address.

When I arrived at the address they presented the phone to me and said that they had made a mistake, the phone was actually in good condition, they immediately offered me an additional £60.

I collected the phone from them and I will sell elsewhere, I suggest that you steer clear of them, there are better alternatives to using these guys.

Trading Devices may also be responsible for more of these companies as they were all next to each other, including Cash4Phones, in the trading park.

Member
Tim Butler says:
19 November 2013

Well done you. Don’t give those leeches a penny.

Member
Andy says:
26 August 2013

MobilePhoneRecycling2day.co.uk

After searching the net for prices for a 6mth old blackberry Curve 9320. I came across this company offering £57 for the phone.

Then I got this email from them.

Dear ……….

Excellent News!! Your pack arrived today and your order is being processed by our team. Once the processing and checks have taken place you should being receiving your payment soon.

Below is a summary of your order.

Phone Testing Reasons Revised Offer Status
Blackberry Curve 9320 Failed – Excessive wear and tear
£20.86 Awaiting customer acceptance
As you can see our technical team have found few problems when testing, and for this reason we are offering you the revised price offer above.

Please let us know within 5 days from the date of this email if you accept or reject the revised offer*.

To do so, please click here and then follow the on-screen instructions.

If we do not hear from you within 5 days, we will assume, in accordance with our terms and conditions, that you have accepted all of the above and will continue to process your order.

.

If you feel that there has been a mistake with your Order, please do give us a call

Thank you for using MobilePhoneRecycling2Day

Kind Regards,

* Please note: for all offers accepted after 2pm on a Friday, payment will be processed the following Monday.

Customer Services,
MobilePhoneRecycling2Day

Now I have tried to ring them half a dozen times, nobody answers the phones and sent them messages from their website (4 in total) no replies and even tried to reply to the email but the adddress couldn’t be reckonised.

Looks like I will have to accept the offer as I can’t find a way to decline the offer.

I will never do this again, would have been better off selling on ebay.

Andy.

[We’ve edited this comment for breaking our guidelines. Thanks, mods.]

Member
Sean says:
27 August 2013

Andy

Are you local to London? If you’re local then I suggest going to their premises and asking for your phone back.

They are based at 15 Gateway Mews, Bounds Green, LONDON, N11 2UT.

Member
Andy says:
29 August 2013

No not local Sean, shame really as I would loved to have been able to pop in.

Member

Hi all, we’ve investigated mobile recycling sites as part of our latest issue of Which? magazine. We’ve also published a new post about it if you’d like to join in: https://conversation.which.co.uk/technology/sell-mobile-phone-recycling-website-cash4phones-mazuma-envirofone-ebay/ This features comments from Wahidazzlar, Rebeccles and Tpoots.

Member

Hi all, Cash4phones has filed for bankruptcy: https://conversation.which.co.uk/technology/cash4phones-bust-insolvency-capital-books-mobile-phone-recycling/

We have advice for those who are waiting for money from Cash4phones or you want your phone to be sent back. There is some time pressure on this. I’d be interested to here if you’re affected, so please share your experiences: https://conversation.which.co.uk/technology/cash4phones-bust-insolvency-capital-books-mobile-phone-recycling/

Member
Francesca Clark-fowler says:
18 November 2014

PHONES 2 POUNDS, I sent this company 2 iPhones in pristine condition and waited for my payment of £251 as promised. I then received an email stating the phones were scratched and in poor condition offering less than half the payment. I emailed them stating I wanted the phones returning and heard nothing. I have sent numerous emails and lost count of phone calls if have made and they have never got back to me, so if your thinking of using phones 2 pounds don’t, I have lost my phones and I don’t think I will ever see them, or a payment ever again, fran

Member
Francesca Clark-fowler says:
18 November 2014

Phones 2 pounds

Member

I have sent phones2pounds a iphone4s. At first it said they would give me £99… great! Sent it to them and then got an email saying they will offer me £65 or £10 admin charge to send it me back. I just agreed to the £65… its better than nothing. Anyway the problem is I still havent recieved any money! It says same day bank transfer for the payment. Its nearly a month since I emailed saying I would accept the £65. I have sent 5 emails and phoned loads of times but it appears you just cant contact these people! So annoying that they can do this to you!

Member
Carli says:
29 January 2015

I sold my phone to buyandsellphones.co.uk. They received the phone on 22nd December 2014, it is now 28th January and I have still received no payment. I have exchanged numerous emails with them asking for my money but as yet I haven’t received it. I gave them my paypal address and my bank details for them to pay but still nothing. I have a receipt to say they received it. What can I do to get the money I’m owed?

Member
Valerie says:
11 April 2015

I sent my Samsung Galaxy S2 to phonerecyclers.co.uk, the company was mentioned on The Gadget show on Channel 4 because it offered better prices than most other phone recycling companies. Indeed, they offered me £82 for my used phone, better than Mazuma or O2 recycle.
About a week after I had sent the phone, carefully wrapped in two layers of bubble wrap and special cushioned envelope, I had an email from them and a revised offer for £48.60 which I accepted as the phone did have a hair line crack at the bottom on the screen by the menu button. Within an hour, I had an email telling me that funds would be in my account within 48 hours. No money has landed in my account, I have sent them 2 polite emails requesting an update, no answer back. Today, I have tried to ring the number listed on the website and email, no answer. I have sent an other, more assertive email today, demanding an update or requesting that my phone should be sent back to me ( I did specify that I had photographic evidence of the phone before I sent it). I have in the past sold a used BlackBerry on Ebay and wished I had done the same thing for this phone as having read a few forums about phone recycling companies, I have the feeling that I have been duped and that I will never see my money or my phone ever again. Has anyone else had similar issues with Phone Recyclers??

Member
Sas says:
15 April 2015

Phone Recyclers
I did not read the reviews and sent them my iphone 5 which was quoted as £115. Was offered £82 because of cosmetic damage they state was there even though I know there was not. I refused, they increased offer to £92 which I begrudgingly accepted. was promised payment today, no payment, no communication. Have tried ringing, permanently engaged or just ringing constantly. Have emailed, as yet no response. Sad thing is Mazuma mobile would have given me £105 no matter what cosmetic damage and no hassle either as they are a reputable company but when times are hard you opt for the better price.

[This comment has been edited to align with our commenting guidelines. Thanks, mods]

Member
Kazza says:
7 July 2015

I’ve had a really awful experience with Phone Recyclers. I sent them my iPhone 5 which they quoted £110 for on the website. I sent it off and then got an email offering £68 or to have my phone back because it was ‘scuffed’ and ‘the service provider was EE’?! The original description did not specify a service provider anyway and the condition was fine when I sent it. I declined and said I wanted my phone back. I then got a phone call offering me in the region of £75 and I said no I wanted my phone back. They rang again and offered more again but still not the amount and I said no I just want my phone back. The guy on the phone was really peculiar and I said I wanted it back ASAP and wanted no further contact from them, he confirmed I would get the phone back within a week. Later that week I received an email saying that a cheque for £95 was on its way to me. I phoned up and spoke to the manager who said I had accepted the offer and I denied this, eventually she said I would have to wait for the cheque to come and then phone up and she would send the difference from the original price quoted. I asked repeatedly why they could not just send the cheque for the difference out now but she just kept repeating herself saying that the cheque was already issued?! When I got the cheque the post mark was for a week later than this conversation. I contacted them several times and got no response from email of phone calls. Eventually they emailed saying I had the money agreed for my phone and that was it. They never answer their phone and the ‘manager’ I spoke to was called Sam. I am really annoyed by this and want to complain.

Member
Fizz says:
15 June 2015

fonehub.co.uk

I would not trust this site and company. I sent in my HTC One mobile phone and it was valued at £70 but they came back and said it was £40 worth. I have requested them to return phone. It has been two weeks – no cheque in the post or phone. They are not answering my calls or emails. BE AWARE!!!

Member
Susan says:
5 October 2015

Be very careful about the company you are dealing with, the one I have sent my phone was just a scammer (Phones2Pounds), they always do the same: they gave you a pretty good evaluation but when they have received your phone they always say that your phone was damaged, basically they them gave you 2 choices: accept the new ridiculous quote or pay a fee of 10 pounds! Be really careful and avoid those people!

Member
al wright says:
3 November 2015

I have just received a quote £17.50 less than agreed (phone ,charger and original box £167.50)
from “phones 2pounds” because of scratches on the screen and a “pink tint”.
My phone went straight from the box new into a lunatic tactic case with Rhino glass and was pristine when I sent it. I certainly do not recommend this bunch of shysters

Member
Larry Bishop says:
3 February 2016

Do not use phonerecyclers! They offered less money than originally stated, but the worst is I am still waiting for payment 3 weeks later. Luckily it was only a 2 and a half year old Samsung. Should have given it to Charity!

Member
emma earp says:
11 April 2016

Phone Recyclers.co .uk….UPDATE: Have now reported to Action Fraud – suggest all those also affected do the same. Will also be paying a visit to my local Police station to report this as theft of phone.

I sent my phone off after receiving a competitive quote online. I packed the phone in its original box so it could not get damaged during transit. However, I have received an email from them saying the the phone has the following damage:

Back Cover Colour Fade
Deep Scratchs all over screen
Dents all over body

I can categorically state that the phone was in a like new condition having had a screen protector on it from day one and kept in a cover. There was absolutely NO damage or fading to the phone – they have offered me a much lower price which I have rejected and asked them to send back the phone – it had better be the one I sent them or I will be taking further legal action.

My advice is to go elsewhere!

Member
James says:
1 November 2016

This company is full if lies and are cheats! They offered me £280 for a brand new £720 phone only one month old and never used. Once they had the phone they downgraded my price and then never paid me of returned my phone. I have had the phone blocked and now seeking legal advice. DO NOT USE PHONE RECYCLERS! They are LIARS and CHEATS! Avoid them at all costs!

Member
Dr Richard Martin says:
9 November 2017

I sent two fully working excellent
condition iPhone 6s handsets to Phones 2 Pounds with an opening offer of £229 per handset. On receiving them they are suggesting they are not working, one with pixel damage on the screen and the other scratches on the back. Neither is true. They have revised their offer to £160 each and refuse to answer the phone number listed for contacting them to discuss their second offer. They state I have 7 days to reply after which they consider I have accepted the offer. I am still within 14 days of the original offer. I have written to them recorded delete very stating I reject the app fee and in line with terms and conditions expect them to return the handsets for free recorded delivery. This appears that be a common tactic by this company. It is nothing more than attempted theft of part of the value of the phones. I await the result. Stay clear!!