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Are mobile phone recycling sites giving you a fair price?

Smartphones with recycling logo

With many of us upgrading our phones on a regular basis, there are plenty of unloved mobiles knocking around. Mobile recycling sites claim to be the best place to sell them, but are they really?

It’s been over a year since our last post on mobile recycling sites, but the stream of complaints about them hasn’t stopped.

A lot of you still aren’t happy with the service you receive from these sites, especially when it comes to getting the price you were promised for your mobile.

Mobile phone recycling websites

The most common complaint is that the initially high offer for your second-hand phone is revised once it’s in the hands of these companies, who then make a much lower offer based on ‘cosmetic wear and tear’. A lot of you dispute that this damage was never there, yet are faced with the choice to sell the phone at the lower price, or pay to have it returned.

Which? Convo commenter Rebeccles told us about trying to sell their iPhone:

‘At first Cash4phones offered £150 for an iPhone in perfect condition. They are now telling me it’s worth £32. I either take the £32 or pay them to return my phone.’

Wahidazzlar had a similar experience:

‘Mobilephonerecycling2day offered £42.14 initially. As ‘it’s in poor condition’ they’ll give me £14.14 or send it back for £9.95. It’s ridiculous, I’m more out of pocket than I was before.’

Damage to your mobile phone

While researching these services for our latest issue of Which? magazine, we came across similar issues.

We were offered a lower quote than originally given for one of our handsets, due to ‘damage’. As far as we were concerned it had been in pretty good nick, so we dutifully asked for it to be returned. On doing so, we were told that there had been a mistake during the initial assessment, and the price was suddenly raised by £5. Would this ‘mistake’ have been spotted had we not disagreed with the price and asked for the phone back?

In contrast to the Which? Convo commenters above, Tpoots had a positive experience:

‘I’ve used Envirofone and Mazuma Mobile a couple of times in the last few years and have yet to have a problem.’

Sell your mobile on Ebay

During our research, we found that if you want the absolute best price for your old phone, you’d be better off selling it on eBay. This might require a little more effort than just popping it in the post to a recycling site, and there are some fees attached, but overall you’ll make a much better profit

Do you have any experiences of selling your mobile to a specialist recycling site? Do you think they’re still a good choice for a quick and convenient sale, or have you been let down?


“Are mobile phone recycling sites giving you the best price?”

Of course not, otherwise they wouldn’t be able to make a profit from it.


Hi Ian, thanks for the comment. I’ve tweaked the title to say a ‘fair’ price 🙂

coolchillie says:
19 November 2013

It seems to me that you are just trying to start a conversation and nothing else.
This whole post is bit worthless to say the least. I certainly wont be sharing it.
You have basically told everyone what they already know instead of “HAMMERING” those unscrupulous companies for their underhanded practice of making an offer and then offering people a way lower price and then charging exorbitant prices to return their goods. For those companies its a win-win situation because most people just accept the lower offer. This is what those bottom feeding companies rely on and I am disappointed with your analysis to say the least.
Tell it as it is man and quit the pussy footing around in fear of a slap on the wrist.


Hi coolchillie,

The conversation is intended to whip up discussion about these companies, and it’s incredibly useful for us to hear from people who have used these services in the past and not been satisfied. Feedback from our members and the general public can often be the starting point for us to investigate an issue and bring it to light, so we really do want to hear people stories.

With regards to criticising the companies in this industry, we can’t really do this until we have solid evidence of wrong doing. We have carried out some research in this area, which is still ongoing, and should it yield any interesting results we will of course share them, but what we cannot do is jump in with two feet and make wild accusations.

However, what we can say right now is that mobile recycling companies are not the best place to sell your phone, if you want the best price. This is, I think, genuinely useful advice. It may seem obvious to some, but there are plenty of people using these services who potentially don’t realise. In publishing this convo, we’re bringing this to their attention.

The full article in the magazine, which in part was spurred on by comments from Convo contributers, goes into more detail than I have been able to here, including highlighting the practice of original quotes being drastically reduced when the phone is inspected, and the price for having the phone returned.

coolchillie says:
19 November 2013

Thank you for the clarification


From my kids’ experience, buying and selling mobile phones on ebay seems to get reasonsable prices. What I take issue with is the need to sell (and replace) perfectly good phones in the first place. This wish to always have the latest is wasteful of resources. My phone makes calls, messages, and is 8 years old. But then I’m a dinosaur I suppose.


We can’t agree more, Malcolm. Why is this post only about “profit” for the consumer? Why does it not discuss the most responsible and ethical way of disposing of a mobile. In the 3Rs, reduce and reuse come before recycle. We always say, the most ethical mobile is the one you already have in your hand. If you would like to move on, priority should be given to those who might reuse your mobile. So find out if your “recycler” is planning to simply shred, grind and mine your phone for metals, which is very resource intensive, or whether they will divert it for reuse/resale.


I think my mobile phone is only a little younger than yours Malcolm; it replaced a somewhat heavier one that had given good service for over seven years but I can’t see any need to replace the present one for some time yet as it’s still very reliable. I think some charities will take old mobile phones and ensure they get re-used rather than destroyed for recovery of metals. It would be useful if some mention was made of such outlets for a redundant phone – not everyone sees it as a money-making exercise.