/ Technology

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.

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.

They will do which ever gives them the most profit.
Obviously the more people who buy 2ndhand phones the higher the price will become and the fewer phones will be recycled rather than resold.

I have boxes full of bits I reuse not scrap and when I saw a charity shop asking for phones to reuse I sorted all I had replaced over the years. Armed with phones , matching chargers, instruction books and in some cases packaging off I went. What a let down. “We only use the phone for spares” I was told. So watch out!

Rob bell says:
20 November 2013

Cash4phones offered me £159 for my iPhone 4S. I sent it off in their pack and not heard anything since. Tried calling and emailing but no answer by any medium. Went through compare and recycle.co.uk to find them. Angry and disappointed.

[Hi Rob, thanks very much for sharing your story. We’ve just tweaked your comment as it broke our guidelines. Thanks, mods.]

Naveed Bhatti says:
20 November 2013

I originally went to cash4phones because they offered me the best price for my HTC Sensation XE. But once they recieved it they said excessive wear and tear. This was not true but I didn’t want to pay for the £9 cost of getting my phone back so I accepted the offer of £57.92, that was on 27th September 2013 and I have yet ro recieve my money.

And whenever I try to phone them I get put on hold. I have spent several lunch hours trying to get through to someone but to no effect

I have reported them to trading standards and sent a registered letter to complain. I am so angry, especially because i have looked on the internet and a lot of other people paint a similar picture. In fact there was a story about them on BBC’s Watchdog Programme. I hope they get their comeuppance.

Hello both, really sorry to hear this. We suggest you report this to http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/. We also have more advice in our guide to reporting scams: http://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/action/how-to-report-a-scam/ This is something we’re investigating at the moment

Naveed Bhatti says:
21 November 2013


Thanks for the link Patric. I filed a report with the police. Even if I don’t get any money (which they said is likely), hopefully they will stopped others from being duped.

Essentially this is a classic case of supply and demand. Those companies are probably involved in reselling a few phones and on-selling for crushing the rest for the metals. Metal prices move, and peoples view of good condition may be slightly warped/optimistic. So assuming they are the most honest of people they are in a world of rapidly changing prices and they need to make a profit.

The example above of a price shifting upwards of a £5 when a buyer decides he wants his phone back is really an appreciation of the cost of the company getting embroiled in low monetary value high hassle factor.

I am not an apologist for the industry but I would dearly like some sense of how a business has to run when banging on how unfair business is to consumers. For anyone who is currently working or has worked in a commercial organisation you must appreciate that businesses have to make money to continue and pay staff. If you part with the item to sell it you are trading convenience for yourself against the fact you have weakened your trading power. It is your choice to enter into the transaction and you must be aware of the terms and conditions – and the pitfalls.

Very large companies like Amazon are unfair to UK taxpayers/buyers by simply avoiding paying full tax in the UK. The Guardian estimated £100M unpaid over 3 years compared to a normal UK company. Of course you can also go for grants:
” Last week it emerged that, despite £4.2bn of UK sales, the company paid only £2.4m in corporation tax in 2012. In the same year it received £2.5m in government grants. Which makes it a net benefits scrounger.”

Perhaps when looking at rogue companies Which? could look for bigger targets.

I agree that selling phones on eBay is a good idea. However, buying phones on eBay can be very risky unless the seller has a long term positive feedback. There have been many cases of people selling phones on eBay, waiting for eBay/PayPal’s purchase protection period to expire and then reporting the phone lost or stolen in order to commit insurance fraud. The buyer then finds that the purchased phone has been blocked by all networks and the seller can no longer be contacted. Caveat emptor.

Dawn Mather says:
22 November 2013

I had never sold a mobile phone until yesterday. Checked out all the prices on the internet for an HTC One S, I chose Fonebank not the highest payer, a couple of pounds difference, the reviews for the highest paying site were awful, frankly not worth bothering with. Posted my mobile yesterday, today I received an email confirming receipt and that the amount advertised was being BACS to my account. Great service Fonebank

Manon1753 says:
22 November 2013

I think I can beat you: My Motorola V series 66 bought in the USA, is about to celebrate its 10th birthday. It makes and receives phone calls and text messages on all continents. Its displays are in very legible black and white (can be adjusted to user’s need).. It can guess in what language I am about to spell out my text message. Its (second) battery lasts for a week (whoopee, no need to carry yet another charger during those quick business trips). It has a brilliant diary and alert/alarm system and has a seemingly inexhaustible addres book. It takes voice recordings. It’s such a small clamshell, I can slip it into the tiniest trouser pocket and no thief will know that I carry a phone. IF I need something “more sophisticated”, this one will go to a place that will re-use it.

vernon levy says:
22 November 2013

I’ve used Mazuma twice and obtained what I considered to be a fair price and was paid speedily and without fuss.

I used Mazuma which I got from the web site at http://www.stoprecycledstolenphones.com/members.asp as if I had a problem then there is a code of practice to fall back on – that said I was happy with the offer and payment I got.

Used these services after three times selling the phone on Ebay and each time the auction winner pulled out. Sold phone on apple with no problems. iPad was received by them damaged in the post but their insurance paid up. O2 offered more on another iPad was sent to them in their packaging. Again damaged in the post. Be very careful how it is packed.

Warren says:
4 December 2013

For the past several years, I have been collecting mobile phones which are donated to our registered charity and I recycle them through various companies in order to raise money for the charity and to be honest, had very little problems, only a couple of phones being revised in prices but most of the phones recycled are under £30. I use a number of different comparison sites to search for the best price for the phone once i have tested it and ensured that the phone has not been reported stolen. Generally the companies have returned payment within a few weeks and it has been a good and easy way for the charity to raise money for good causes.

On the 14th November 2013, I posted a Nokia 6303c to cash4phones in one of their envelopes they sent to me following the appropriate completion of the details on their website through my account. I accepted that the amount of £14.00 would be paid in return for the phone being sent to them

By the 21st November, as I had not heard anything and my account was not even updated to state that they had received the phone, I emailed them to be advised that ‘We can confirm that your handset is currently with our Technical Department’. Since this date, I have not heard anything despite emailing them several times. When trying to log onto my account online, (something I had previously done on a number of times) the website states my account is not recognised. I have tried to request the password but again when I submit my email address; it states that no account is associated with the email address, something I find rather strange as I have logged into the account a number of times previously.

There is no telephone number for the company and with no way of contacting them, although I have yesterday sent a letter to their registered address on their website. Whilst not a major amount of money, its the pronciple of the matter, having sent a phone to them and not receiving either the money or the phone return. Can which look further into this company?

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/

Melanie says:
15 May 2014

I used cash4phones in November 2013 to recycle my immaculate IPhone 4 I was quoted £117.00 for my phone so I sent it off by recorded delivery it arrived two days after to the company but never received the money for my phone I sent constant emails to the company I even wrote to them but never heard anything back I’m registered disabled unable to work & that money was to pay some bills which I still had to find the money for. The company emailed me to tell me they had received my phone but that due to the run up to Christmas they were very busy and we’re running behind I never heard anything since. I am now out of pocket by double the amount because I still had to find the money for the bills and I lost my phone what do I do now I cannot afford to be out of money by well over £200 this is not right or fair. Advice please

Frances says:
28 September 2014

I sent an immaculate iphone to a recycle company (phone recyclers.co.uk) who advertised they would pay £170 for it. They emailed to say it doesn’t meet their standards and has colour peeled edges and back. I don’t even know what that means. I emailed to say I wouldn’t accept their lower offer of £127.50 and want my phone back. They haven’t acknowledged this or my 3 other emails. They do not answer their phones and it seems lots of others have experienced similar. I don’t know what to do and cannot afford to lose £170 as from what I can gather, they send back damaged (according to what they say the issue was) phones. Then you can’t sell. A lot seem to get their offer upped, I cannot even get a reply. So I might not even get my phone back at this rate

Frances says:
28 September 2014

I have never had a problem with O2 recycle. Wish I had just gone to them this time. Also have reported phone recyclers to citizen advice and emailed watchdog. My phone should have been returned by now and hasn’t been. Who knows if it’s even your phone they send back. I keep the imei numbers in case.

I’m am currently in dispute with Igadgetsrecycled.Co.uk, they offered £86 for my samsung s3 fully working no scratches to screen or back, screen protector was still on the phone when sent 31st Oct having not heard an thing since I emailed on 12th Nov for a reply to say they emailed on the 4th Nov offering me £50, i didn’t receive this email so declined the offer, attempted to contact by phone..There line has a fault and unable to take calls no reply to my emails other than my phone has now been recycled as I only had 72 hrs to reply to an email I never received, which I find amazing that I received all other emails except the one in which I’m offered a lower amount..yet I’m still also to receive the funds and have my phone call returned after 3 emails requesting to speak with someone in person. I think it shocking that they can do this at no point did they request info on the phone regarding scratches etc other that working, which it was. Will never use any recycle companies again.

Gary says:
6 January 2015

igadgetsrecycled (also operating as webuyanyphone) are one of the worst currently. Nobody that has sent phones to them in the last few months has received payment despite repeated promises. They insist that customers write glowing trustpilot reviews before they receive payment (which never arrives) in order to fish more people in. Do not send these people your phone, you’re far better off selling it on Gumtree or taking a bit less money and using someone like Mazuma.

Henry Reid says:
9 February 2015

Beware of Zoomfish!! I have just had a bad experience with sending them my wife’s I Phone 5. It was working perfectly and in great condition, having been protected in a leather flip cover. She got a new I Phone 6 on expiry of her 2 year contract, hence the disposal of her old phone. We waited for the Zoomfish envelope to arrive and posted the item in its original box within. In a short time they responded confirming receipt and then claiming the sim card reader was faulty and “revising” their offer to £25, it had been £105. I immediately responded both on their web site log in and also by e-mail refusing the offer and requesting the return of the phone. One week later it had not been returned so I e-mailed and also my wife phoned. She was told that they would check the phone again and contact her by phone, they had not bothered to return it. A day later we had heard nothing so she phoned again, to be told the phone had been rechecked and was “definitely faulty”. They said they would return it and we would have it by 09/02/15. It is now after 11pm on the 9/02/15, no phone back.

Raj Patel says:
21 April 2015

I am in the same boat with zoomfish. They offered £210 for my unlocked 14 months old iPhone 5s (mint condition and no scratches). I sent my handset on April 1st using next day special delivery. After receiving handset, they said that display has got some burns and offer reduced to £160. I rejected the offer and asked for my handset to be sent back. They said it Will be returned by 11 and then 16th april. Whenever I call them, they say, we’ll call you back with tracking number. Not sure, how do I get my phone back from them.

I have sent an iPhone 5 to Mazuma mobile recently. It was in perfect condition and I took the liberty of taking photos of the phone and the packaging I shipped it in for my records as this was the first time I’d used such a service.

They had offered me £100 for the phone which was slightly less than I could get on eBay but I decided for convenience I’d accept the loss.

They contacted me saying they would only offer £25 for the phone as the camera was damaged. They sent proof of this showing a slight blur in a photo taken on the phone. However I had taken a photo on the phone prior to packing and it was fine.

I explained it had not left in that condition and the response was “We do not deliberately damage phones” which came as a surprise as I never suggested that it was deliberate, just that the damage had either happened in transit or at Mazumas premises. However the line about the deliberate damage does get you thinking!

They returned the phone which didn’t come well packaged at all and was able to freely move inside which could have caused further damage. They said it wasn’t their fault and to raise a claim with Royal Mail.

I did this but Royal Mail require the original packaging to assess the damage, mazuma didn’t return it in its original packaging. So now my phone valued at £100 is now around £25.

The quality of a company can be determined on how it responds to its problems. Going on this experience Mazuma mobile is to be avoided at all costs!

Chris says:
4 April 2016

My experience with music magpie was in a word unbelievable
They offered my 76 quid for a Sony xperia z2 in working order I provided them with just that a z2 unlocked and in mint condition I sent the mobile recorded delivery it arrived with them at 0810 on a Thursday I never heard nothing from them after 5 days I rang for a update this is what I got told ” your phone has passed all the relevant tests but a revised offer has been made ” I asked “why?” Got told ” my new offer is £7 as they don’t like the look of the mobile” my answer was very clear ” send it back to me you shark” then she proceed to tell me ” standard delivery is 15 working days” and then said “bye” and hung up they are complete jokes these company’s and because they are not governed by no standard they just take the biscuit everything and the fat cats at the top are getting fatter