back to article Carphone slated over iPhone porkies claim

Carphone Warehouse staff have been accused of confusing customers in order to get them pay extra cash for insurance. The BBC's Watchdog programme sent researchers to five Carphone stores and in three of them were told that if their iPhone was stolen they would have to shell out for another 18 month contract if they wanted to …


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  1. Phil

    iPhone minus contract

    If I remember correctly, the Carphone insurance has a nifty benefit in that they will pay the remainder of your contract off if you decide to cancel before the term is up, meaning you can keep your subsidised handset.

    I did this twice and my brother did once recently, keeping his samsung after a few months and walking away from the remaining contract. Considering their insurance is what, 4.99 a month last time I looked, this might be a good deal for the iphone, if they haven't fiddled the small print that is.

  2. Nick


    Surely, if you've lost / broken the handset in order to claim on the insurance, then you won't ba able to / want to keep the subsidised handset.

    Unless of course, you're not only suggesting, but admitting insurance fraud?

    Perhaps this is why we keep hearing stories of how careless people are with their phones.

  3. Stuart

    Talking rubbish...

    Correct me if I am wrong but can you not only buy the iPhone from O2, and then do they or do they not sell it offline, thats right they don't meaning that in actual fact the reality is that if you lose your iPhone you need to buy a new contract which is what I believe Carphone were saying...

    Shame because they are normally useless lying bastards in my experience however on this ocassion i think the story is way off the mark.

  4. James

    Consultants ?

    CFW statement:

    "Because of the unique nature of the iPhone and its replacement process there could, despite detailed training, be some element of confusion among an isolated number of sales consultants."

    I trust that Carphone Warehouse are paying these people a salary commensurate with their job title. A consultant would probably expect £50K to £100K per annum (I'm probably being a bit conservative here !! ).

    Also: Why are these poor people "isolated"? What have they done that no one will communicate with them?

    Can we not get rid of marketing doublespeak from these companies once and for all? A case for the Campaign for Plain English, I think!

  5. Mage Silver badge


    Obviously they know little about phones if they think the iPhone is Unique.

    I tried two Carphone shops:

    Neither could tell me which phones had WiFi and which had SIP (VOIP).

    They also claimed that Nokia E65 was not a 3G phone.

  6. Tim C

    I have never met a dud Carphone employee

    The staff have to absorb and then communicate a huge amount of constantly changing information. Anyone could make a small error about terms & conditions, but I have always found the staff to be helpful, friendly, patient, and well informed.

  7. Anonymous Coward


    I'm guessing the "sales consultants" are on commission for insurance sales and I bet that CPW's not getting much of a kick-back from the iPhone...

    Stuart - CPW does indeed sell the iPhone without a contract, or "offline" as you have described it.

  8. Graham Jordan

    !@!?!*skull and crossbones* CPW

    I like the part in their contract that says once you open the phone box you cant return it unless it has defects. How about being a shit phone, is that not a defect?

    18 month boIIox with a crap handset and 12p a text.. Fool me once you dodgy *endless list of profanitys*, it wont happen again!

  9. Steven Mileham

    Happened to me

    When I tried (in vane) to buy my iPhone from carphone warehouse, they told me this exact same story :P

  10. bluesxman

    "confusion" my arse

    I've no doubt they are up-selling the insurance for the same reason PC World et al try their utmost to flog you a costly (and generally pointless) extended warranty -- the get cock all commission from the tangibles compared to what they get for that piece of paper.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    Does it really matter?

    Let's be honest, the misselling of insurance is just more publicity for the iphone, which it sorely needs as no one's buying it, because regardless of it's ultra cool GUI it's 5 years behind all the other phone companies as far as basic technology goes.

  12. N1AK

    @Tim C

    3 out of 5 Carphone Warehouse staff members 'lied' to a customer about something that they stood to benefit financially from. If they didn't know the answer, the truth is to check or say you don't know, simply making up the rules to earn yourself a few quid must be grounds for being fired.

    I already had a low opinion of Carphone Warehouse and TalkTalk(although all Mobile sellers seem pretty poor) and the only way they can deal with this adequately is to fire the at fault employees (or whomever instructed them to lie to customers) and bring in their own undercover shoppers to ensure it doesnt happen in future.

  13. AndyB

    @ Nick

    Phil doesn't say he reported the phone lost / stolen - just that the insurance "will pay the remainder of your contract off if you decide to cancel before the term is up" ie, it's a perk of the insurance that it gives you a contract get-out option.

    Having said that, false reports of mobile phone thefts do skew the crime statistics quite significantly - even fueling the current "rampant Gun crime" statistics. A good proportion of the reported "gun crimes" are as a result of the following scenario...

    Oik: Damn, this phone's 3 months old and it's well out of date, I wanna new one. I know, I'll say it's been nicked.

    (on phone to insurance provider fonefarm monkey)

    Oik: Me phone's bin nicked, can I have a new one?

    Monkey: Oh, your phone's been nicked has it? What's your crime reference number from the police?

    (Oik hangs up on monkey)

    Oik: Damn, gotta report it to the cops. Oh well, I'll spin 'em a line...

    (at the cop-shop)

    Oik: I need to report my phone's bin nicked.

    PC: I need to take some details. How did it happen?

    Oik: erm, this bloke mugged me in the street.

    PC: Oh, I see, did he threaten you or anything?

    Oik: err, yeah, he pulled a gun on me, I had to hand it over otherwise he'd have killed me.


    Next thing you know, Daily Mail headline: Gun Crime Out Of Control

  14. Steve Evans
    Jobs Horns

    Has anyone else noticed this...

    I saw it on the news ticker on the News 24 last night, and now I find the same phrase on the BBC link provided in this story...

    "...Apple's popular iPhone handset."

    pop·u·lar [pop-yuh-ler] - adjective

    - regarded with favour, approval, or affection by people in general

    Guess the BBC must use a different dictionary to me.

  15. Chad H.

    This isnt news

    "Carphone warehouse staffer tells the truth" that would be a front page headline!!!!!

    I've worked in Blackberry support for a major mobile company until recently... The number of blackberries they sell without either adding on the extra charges for blackberry, or bothering to tell the customer about them.

    The phone is crippled without those charges, no email, no web, no mms. Just basic calls and texts only. Might as well have an old nokia 3310.

  16. Richard Eustace
    Thumb Down

    19 months

    Is anyone asking what happens once your 18 month contract is up?

    I assume (hope) once you complete the 18 months the IPhone is yours to do with as you please (since you paid for it and all).

    Do they then unlock it for you so you can move networks?

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    CPW are full of tricks

    The CPW in golders green are rude and they're always try and screw you.

    After I returned a phone because it was shit they gave me a "new" phone with pictures of themselves (they forgot to delete the pics) this has happened more than once. also they are completley uninformed : i pulled out one of there phone brochures and when i asked a consultant about 3's X Series he was clueless even thought it was in the brochure! complete muppets

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Mis-information to sell more iPhones

    I had a CPW salesman tell that O2 had had 80% for 4 years!

    An O2 sales assistant repeated a similar claim about EDGE coverage and implied EDGE and WIFI were similar!

    It seems perhaps sales people are less honest as people don't seem to be buying the iPhone in the volumes that were expected!

  19. Anonymous Coward

    "if your phone is stolen during the contract you have to buy a new handset"

    Well, no, you don't. You have to pay out the contract, but if you don't want to throw good money after bad there's no need to replace the handset...

  20. Steve Evans

    @Richard Eustace

    What happens at the end of the 18 months?

    Easy, you own an Apple door wedge. The battery haven just given up the ghost and you've discovered the cost involved to changing it!

  21. Alex
    IT Angle

    I was approached by a sales person

    who was hawking for business outside the swinedump branch of the catfood whorehouse who asked if I was interested in the new iphone, the following transpired:

    "would you like a new iphone?"

    "not really I have an n95 and an ipod"

    "do you know about the iphone?"

    "yes, its all hype isn't it?"

    "oh no, its really good"

    "yes but why would I pay a couple of hundred pounds for a phone that's not actually that good? does it have wifi?"

    "it comes with an ipod touch!"

    "what? free?"


    "So I pay £200 odd pounds, sign up for a monthly contract and I also get an ipod touch for free?"


    "show me the offer, I havn't seen this advertised anywhere"

    "well the iphone has the ipod touch built in"

    "sod off"

    needless to say I staggered away trying desperatly to black out the image of a giant gorrila squeezing the heads off of a box full of kittens. I hate shopping on a saturday.

  22. Anonymous Coward

    @ Chad H

    I am currently playing about with a blackberry curve with the new mobile maps. Guess what, I dont have the blackberry option turned on on my contract :p

    Ok so i dont have email, but i do have web access, due to the fact that you can put in the standard network access points in the phones tcp settings.

    1. Main Menu => Options => Advanced Options => TCP Settings

    2. APN:

    Orange = orangeinternet

    O2 =

    T-Mobile =

    Vodafone = internet

    3. Username:

    Orange = blank

    O2 = mobileweb

    T-Mobile = user

    Vodafone = web

    4. Password:

    Orange = blank

    O2 = password

    T-Mobile = one2one

    Vodafone = web

    I only know this as I work for a J2ME development company and all our applications require connection to work and we use a little known work around to get ours to work on the crackberry. Mind you i should be getting the BB service turned on in the next week or so as I like the Curve better than my MDA Mail.

  23. Jared Earle

    Carphone Whorehouse

    I was told I needed insurance much like the BBC story describes. This was in the Glasgow (Central Station) branch of Whorehouse on the release date. It sounded very much like a scripted speech.

    I have an abhorrence of extended warranties and vendor insurance policies so I told them my household insurance would cover it. He explicitly told me it didn't.

    Sounds a lot like they were told to lie. I'm not surprised, to be honest.

  24. Spleen
    Thumb Down

    Interesting headline, disappointing story

    When I read that iPhone users were being lied to I assumed that CWH employees were being trained to say "May I say sir that you have impeccable taste, superior technical knowledge, an appreciation of value for money, and I expect that men/women sometimes sleep with you for reasons other than pity" after an iPhone purchase. Instead it's Yet Another Insurance Flogging Story. Oh well.

  25. Matt

    what is unique about the iphone?

    why is there such a hooha over the 'uniqueness' of the iphone contract?? I may be daft, but isnt it just a phone, on an 18month contract?? nothing more, nothing less?? how would insurance differ to any other phone??

    and yes, phone salesmen lie through their teeth to flog insurance, you make more commision from that than you do on the phone :) my brother used to give all sorts away when he worked for CPWH just to get an insurance sale...

  26. Joe

    @ N1AK

    I think you're right, but the problem is that the sales people lie to sell insurance (or extended warranties, etc.) BY DESIGN - i.e. it's an unwritten store policy.

    Of course the top brass deny all knowledge and claim innocence, but why else would it happen so consistently across the whole retail world? It's done on purpose, because they make more money that way.

  27. Martin Hargreaves

    CPW in Slough do it

    That's the exact line they spun me, then I asked how much the insurance costs over the 18 month term and it's almost exactly the cost of a new handset.

    They were also telling customers nearby that it comes with no headphones and selling them some for £25 (there's a headphones in the box, of course...)

    Still, you know where you stand with CPW, you're not going to accidentally mistake them for honest.

  28. Neil

    What suprises me...

    Is how many El Reg readers appear to have bought one, or at least gone through the sales process.

    I can only assume that just before signing on the dotted line and handing over a card that they jumped back and shouted "Only kidding! No way am I buying this piece of over-hyped crap" and laughed on their way out of the store.

  29. D Griffin

    Swindon too

    I was spun exactly the same yarn at CPW Swindon - no insurance, loose the phone, pay the contract out for the remainder of 18 months, no way to replace the handset on the same contract. We're not talking £4.99 a month, more like £41 a quarter or £246 over the 18 months.

  30. A J Stiles

    Bathtub Curve

    Having worked in electronics design and manufacture, for my sins, I am acquainted with the Bathtub Curve. Basically, if anything that either plugs in or has moving parts is going to pack up prematurely, it is most likely to do so in the first few months of its life. The failure rate per thousand is then fairly constant over time, rising sharply after a few years as old age sets in ..... so if you plot the failure rate against time, it looks like a cross-section of a bathtub.

    We actually used to stress some of our units by running them at high temperature for a few hours before they left the factory. The thinking being that any that were going to fail early, would fail during that process. Sometimes spectacularly!

    And one time, someone managed to let a whole bunch of tractor controllers out of the door with the testing firmware still in. But that's another story .....

  31. Steve Evans
    Jobs Horns


    I'm not sure where you are on the planet, but in the UK, the recent trend has been you get the phone for free, or very close to it.

    Paying over £200 just for the handset is something we haven't seen here for many years, then the monthly contract isn't really that good when you compare it to the free minutes and text bundles you can get with handsets other than the iPhone.

    I personally got an N95 on an 18 Month contract a few months ago. Orange wanted to charge me £80 for the upgrade, I did the sharp intake of breath bit, asked if they could do anything about that, and next thing I knew I got it for free. All on a £30 contract with unlimited texts and 500 minutes.

    Okay, so I don't have a touch screen, and everything doesn't whizz about in an arty farty orgasm of transition effects, but I have a damn good 5meg camera, GPS, 3G, Wifi, mp3 player with radio and anything else I care to install on the nice open Symbian OS, like Opera for example.

    That's the kind of thing the iPhone and it's contract are up against. No shock that the uptake has been limited to the "oooh shiney" brigade.

  32. Chad H.

    @ annonymous coward

    Shhhh... You're not supposed to know that!

  33. marc

    Not so - phil

    With the insurance, you can cancel at anytime but you must give back your phone. I once made the mistake of taking out a new contract with the intention of canceling my CPW one later... turns out the girl at the till had sold me the wrong insurance and i was stuck with two contracts.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Halo

    iPhone in the USA

    I know this is a British site and lots of discussion here is about why the iPhone isn't popular in the UK. There's also a lot of cock about what it can and can't do usually spouted by someone who has never used one.

    Well I'm an expat Brit in the US and extremely happy with my iPhone. Yes it was $399 and it's on probably the worst network in terms of customer service, but all the networks are shocking by European standards, so no surprise there. Let's compare it to the N95 - well great, except the N95 isn't offered by any of the phone comapnies. I can buy it from Nokia, for $699. Perhaps I'll compare it to the "tilt" (one of HTC's latest, not sure what it's branded in Europe) - That's $399 with a 2year contract that's actually more expensive than the iPhone's. Blackberry 8820 is $349.99, with a substantially more expensive contract to support all that excellent blackberry goodness.

    Yes, I did get my Samsung Blackjack for $20, but that was $19.99 more than it was worth. The 3 hour battery life made it a little unusable for business and the fact that it dropped calls constantly didn't really endear it to me.

    So I guess the point is that Apple may have misunderestimated (joke) the overseas markets in their planning, but the iPhone is by far the best of a bad lot here in North America and that's why it's been successful here in spite of AT&T's crappy network and service. Did I mention that AT&T service sucks?

  35. Phil

    Not so - marc

    Not sure why you were lumbered with that mate or what other insurance they do, but the paying up of the rest of the contract and keeping the phone was an advertised feature of the insurance. I did it twice!

    Other providers make you pay up the remainding months or ask for the phone back as part payment, the CPW insurance kind of insures against the loss of remaining subscription, allowing you to keep the phone.

    This was about 4-5 years ago, but my brother got fed up with his 18 month samsung contract and did the same. It's sat in his drawer now.

  36. V.B.N.

    Tim C-I have never met a dud Carphone employee

    When you work in B n Q u r expected to know abt yr department, when you work in IT you are paid however much to be the football manager of the national side, the pressure comes with the job...

    Same as when you work at CPW, the least you can expect is for the sales rep to know about the blooming phone and the blooming tariff.

    or is that not realy part of their job description???

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    iPhone in the UK

    @iPhone in the USA

    Have you used 3.5G on a network? The iPhone is not designed for European networks.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Isolated? Unlikely.

    Isolated? Don't think so. On the day of the launch, one CPW store in London was refusing to sell the iPhone unless buyers also took the insurance. I would never ever trust Carphone Warehouse any further than I could throw them.

  39. Stuart McQuarrie
    Thumb Down

    Talking rubbish...

    In response to:

    "Talking rubbish...

    Stuart • Thursday 29th November 2007 11:22 GMT"

    Sorry I can't let the above poster go unremarked upon, especially with the title "Talking Rubbish"

    Iphones can be purchased from O2 Carphone Warehouse and Apple

    The reality is that if you lose your iphone you DO NOT have to buy another contract. You buy another iphone and use it on your existing contract.

    "correct me if i'm wrong"?

    consider your pompous inaccuracy corrected.

  40. Anonymous Coward

    Christmas Price Cut...maybe !

    This was apparently overheard in a bar last night, following a rather heated discussion over the merits or not of the iphone. Some chap who was slightly "socially confused" and had clearly had enough of the iphone debate, stepped in and said " When O2 cut the cost of the phone at Christmas you'll all be scrambling for one so just cool it...." further banter occurred and it turn out this chap was an O2 employee. (Ex employee if this is true).

    A free phone with £35-40 contract with at least 400 minutes and unlimited data would be very nice.

    Will it happen who knows...was the chap full of more c**p than lager? who knows.

    Iphone is struggling and a price cut could well be on the cards. It makes sense if Apple are serious about market penetration and increasing UK Mac sales (Halo Effect and all that stuff.

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