O2 investigation shows three-in-four people get ripped off when buying a second hand phone online


O2 bought second hand phones from popular online classified and auction sites then tested them with Dominic Littlewood according to its ‘Like New’ criteria for selling second hand phones

  • Two thirds (66%) ‘did a Del boy’ and falsely advertised their phones
  • A third (34%) were broken
  • Over half (52%) were too badly battered to be resold
  • Only one-in-four (27%) would pass an O2 ‘Like New’ test

Three out of four (73%) Brits looking to get a cheap deal by buying second hand phones on popular online classified and auction sites are being ripped off, according to a new study by O2 and Dominic Littlewood.

As the second hand mobile market continues to grow and more and more people are looking to save money when buying their phone, knowing who to trust online is a tricky business. While people on online auction and classified sites seem to be offering great deals, after buying and testing a range of second hand phones, O2’s research seems to suggest that these deals are too good to be true.

One in three phones (34%) bought as part of the study, to compare them against O2’s own ‘Like New’ refurbished phone initiative, were broken, with 12% having broken screens and 12% having cameras or buttons that didn’t work. One in ten handsets (10%) didn’t charge and over half (52%) weren’t in good enough condition to be sold. Only 12% would meet O2’s ‘perfect’ standard whereas O2’s ‘Like New’ phones are tried and tested, nearly new handsets offered for a fraction of the usual price.

What’s more, two in three (66%) were advertised falsely, with either the physical condition or performance of the handsets being lied about in the advert and shockingly one in seven (14%) weren’t even real versions of the phones listed – dishonest fraudsters had created non-existent phones by putting older phones into new phone shells made to resemble popular devices.

Out of 52 phones bought across a range of popular online auction sites:

  • 33 were falsely advertised
  • 17 had something fundamentally wrong with them
  • 25 weren’t in good enough physical condition to be resold
  • 7 were fakes
  • 2 devices never turned up

All the phones O2 received were analysed by O2 before being given to independent expert and consumer champion Dominic Littlewood, of Cowboy Builders and Don’t get Done, Get Dom fame, to assess. He said:

“If you smell a rat, you’re probably dealing with one. Not only were a lot of the phones I looked at fake, or broken, some didn’t even turn up. If you’re buying a second hand phone, you are far better buying from a trusted operator where you can get a guarantee, rather than a stranger off the internet. You wouldn’t buy a phone from Del Boy, would you?”

All ‘Like New’ O2 refurbs have been returned within 14 days and restored to their original condition. Each handset also has to go through a series of checks to make sure it is in perfect working order for its new owners. Things tested include the physical condition of the phone – if it is not perfect, nearly perfect, or perfectly fine (with a maximum of 5 minor scuffs or scratches) then it cannot be resold. Phones are also tested to make sure they are not fake or stolen before being run through five key checks to make sure they are in fully working order:

  1. Battery – ensuring the phone takes and holds a charge
  2. Audio – getting clear and crisp sound from speakers and microphones
  3. Screen – checking typing, rotation and pinch to zoom functions
  4. Interface – checking the buttons, security features and cameras all work
  5. Connectivity – making sure connectivity features like Wi-Fi work correctly

If a phone passes these checks, it is then wiped of all data, which is particularly important given 10% of phones in the study either had old customer data on them, or content such as images and video that would not be suitable for minors. Customers can also return the phone within 14 days if they’re not happy or change their mind – just like a new phone.

Ben Bevins of O2 says: “All of our phones are refurbished and put through rigorous testing to make sure that they are in perfect working condition. While it is possible to snap up a bargain, it isn’t surprising that a lot of the phones on these classified sites are broken or fake. You just have to ask yourself, if the phone is legitimate, why are they selling it so cheap? If you do decide to buy from one of these sites, make sure you don’t pay for the product until you have had a chance to look at it yourself.”

Find more about O2 like new handsets at: www.o2.co.uk/shop/like-new.

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