Selling an old Apple iPhone or Samsung Galaxy can be a worthwhile exercise if you’ve upgraded.
Although the device may not be worth much, it can still be better to flog it than for it to linger in a drawer somewhere gathering dust.
However, with many websites out there offering cash for old phones, one This is Money reader learnt the hard way that some are far better – and reputable – than others.
AlphaRecycle advertises itself as ‘the number one mobile phone recycling website’ but This is Money reader, Lisa Parkins, contacted us to share her terrible experience with the firm.
AlphaRecycle has been taking people’s phones but not giving them the cash as promised
‘They are proper scammers,’ she says after she sent away an old iPhone for the promise of cash which never came – while she also struggled to get the device back from the Ashford-based company.
She was told it received her phone on 20 November 2018 but received no further updates until she contacted them in December.
Lisa said: ‘I almost totally forgot about it – I’m sure people do, especially with older phones that are only worth a few quid but this was an iPhone.’
After endless unanswered emails and calls throughout December and January, Lisa spoke to Citizens Advice who suggested sending a recorded delivery letter to them demanding to have her phone returned to her.
She sent the letter and quickly received her phone back but with no message or explanation as to why they hadn’t responded to her initial communication.
Lisa admits she didn’t read reviews about the website before she sent the device off.
It transpires that it has a host of one star reviews on website TrustPilot as well as on Google reviews.
The website also operates under the name Sell Smart for Cash, which has also received a large number of one star reviews from unhappy customers.
A number of TrustPilot reviews reveal that many customers who had already sent their phone to the firm were then sent a quote saying their phone was worth much less than what had originally been offered.
By this point it was too late for the customers to take action as the company was already in possession of their phones.
One review of AlphaRecycle on TrustPilot warned people to ‘avoid at all costs’
This reviewer labelled the website as ‘con artists’ and urged other customers to not use it
Another Trust Pilot user said the company is a ‘disgrace’ and the people didn’t act honourably
Many of those who left reviews said they did not get a response from the company until they asked for their phone back, which the company then charged £6.99 for, leaving many customers frustrated.
Another reviewer claims the company said there were scratches on the phone he sent in which he says were never there and were fabricated as a way to give him less money than originally quoted.
This is Money contacted AlphaRecycle and asked them to explain why so many of their customers had reported bad experiences with them and why it has proved so difficult for customers to get in contact with the company.
A company employee replied: ‘We have read your message and please accept our apologies if this has happened with any of our customer however we always ask for tracking number in such cases so if you can please provide us following information so that we can track the order please.
‘Once we receive above information we will be able to update to further on this. We appreciate your understanding and please reply us for any further assistance.’
We have printed the above response as it was received.
Anyone who is looking to sell their old technology, including mobile phones, online, should take care to read any available reviews on websites, such as TrustPilot, to see if other customers would recommend them or not.
If you are not 100 per cent sure whether a website is genuine or not, it is not worth taking the risk.
While reviews can be helpful in determining whether a website is genuine or not, it is worth checking to see if any look like they could be fake reviews.
For example, if many of the reviews look very similar, the reviews are all from new accounts, have all been posted recently or if there haven’t been many reviews at all, it is worth exercising caution.
There are stores such as CeX, located in many town centres, which will provide the same service but you will have a much better guarantee that you will get your money.
Meanwhile, reputable companies online include Music Magpie and Mazuma, while comparison websites such as Sell My Mobile and Compare My Mobile also can help give you a push towards which companies to use to get the best price.
How to stay safe online
Which? has revealed how internet users can recognise a fraudulent website and avoid falling victim to a scam.
1) When you see very low prices with big discounts, you should be a bit suspicious. If prices seem too good to be true then they probably are. In this scenario, the company has promised to pay far more for mobile phones than it likely will.
2) Alarm bells should ring if you are asked to pay for something online via a bank transfer. If you buy something that turns out to be fake or non-existent with a credit or debit card, you do have some rights to get your money back.
Unfortunately, if you do pay by bank transfer, it is very difficult to get your money back. Customers using Alpha Recycle have said they’ve been made to pay £6.99 to have their phone returned – even though they are the ones who are meant to be paid for their goods.
3) Take a couple of minutes to double-check the site. Visit the homepage or the ‘about us’ pages and read the text there. Watch out for poor English, such as spelling and grammar mistakes, or phrases that don’t sound right.
It could mean the site isn’t genuine and was put together by someone looking to make a quick profit.