back to article Phones 4u accused of misleading customers

Responding to a "large number of complaints from consumers", Ofcom has opened an investigation into high-street retailer Phones 4u's selling practices to make sure it's playing by the book. Selling mobile phones is a very competitive business, and with sales staff paid a commission which varies between contracts supplied, it's …


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  1. Paul


    "Few customers are told that signing a contract is a major financial commitment,"

    Translation, Lots of people are to dumb to realise that an 18 month contract is an 18 month contract.

    This is just stupid. How dumb are these people? I do think that Phones 4U sales people are on the same level as pond scum and car salesmen, (oh and I realy disslike the owner) but realy....

  2. nicholas king

    not new

    I don't think this is new news, i know a plethora of people who have had dodgey advice from phones for you. i have avoided the shop for a few years because of this. Damn scammers they are all a bunch of cowboys!! (off subject not to reg. i would appreciate a cowboy image as i think this would be appropriate.)

  3. dervheid

    It's just another symptom...

    of how easy it is to get any form of credit, and how DUMB the younger end of the population generally are when it comes to anything financial or legal/contractual.

  4. Neil

    People don't care about contracts

    They only care about the shiny new phone. If they are too stupid to realise what they are signing, and how much it's going to cost them, that's hardly the problem of the staff in the shop.

  5. Martin King
    Paris Hilton


    I got cold-called for a new phone from Phones 4 U just before Christmas.

    Having discussed my requirements, which included that fact that I needed to be signed up with Vodafone (because no other service provider gives you full coverage in Sherfield English!), she went through the final garbage that you have to listen to, when she slipped up by stating that I would be starting an 18 month Orange contract. At which point I questioned her on this, to which she replied "Sorry, I meant Vodafone". I should have told her to shove it right there and then, but benefit of the doubt took over (doh!) and we ended the call.

    Two days later, an Orange phone pack turns up! So I phone up to complain and work out how to send the phone back to them, upon which the first response was "Orange are just as good". Grr. Finally, they agree to send me a bag to post back the phone, providing I cut up the SIM card and send it back within 5 days of receipt of the bag. Which I did.

    Two months later, I get a bill from Orange for £12.84. I contacted Orange, stated that this was P4U issue, as they had missold me the package. Orange then tell me that it is P4U who need to rectify this.

    I contact P4U, having received a letter from a DEBT COLLECTION AGENCY (for the aforementioned £12.84), demanding that this is sorted out. The career-aspirationally-challenged plankton tells me that he will pass me through to direct sales, who should be able to issue me a cheque. Great I thought, some progress at last.

    Enter Vicky, who has obviously been employed by P4U to irritate customers to the point at which they give in and pay up. According to Vicky, it is not Phones 4 U who has the issue, it is Orange. EVEN THOUGH THEY MISSSOLD THE DAMNED PACKAGE IN THE FIRST PLACE, they would not take responsibility for it.

    I am now having to take up a formal complaint with both P4U and Orange, which no doubt will have to then go through their respective ADRs thanks to their automatic deadlocking letters (sinical, but no doubt true), which failing that will then finally get Ofcom off their lethargic arses to sort this kind of crap out.

    Paris, cos she'll jump through hoops to please, unlike P4U.

  6. Mark Jan
    Paris Hilton


    Dumbed down education resulting in today's "yoof" not understanding what an 18 month contract means! Incredible.

    However, why anyone would buy from Phones4U after seeing one of their TV commercials is beyond me anyway.

    Paris because even she knows what 18 month means - although she probably also thinks the gestation period required to have twins!

  7. Steve
    Paris Hilton

    cut them off

    It isn't a form of credit, it's a fixed term contract for a service.

    However the solution is clearly to not allow people that dumb to be allowed to use phones, mobile or otherwise. Ideally they should cut their contact with the rest of us down to a minimum so that we don't have to suffer their stupidity in day to day interaction with them.

    What do they honestly think that the '18' in 18 month contract refers to if it's not that they have to adhere to the terms for that length of time, morons.

  8. Mark Broadhurst
    Thumb Down

    Phones for F*ing you over.

    While they do have some good deals they suck once they have you signed up.

    After sales doesn't not exist the phone number you call to talk about your contract can cost you 35p\pm depending on what you signed up for.

    It took them 3 months to transfer my phone from one network to another on one of their "hassle free" upgrades during which time I was paying two bills, in the end I did the transfer my self.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    it has changed...

    As someone who always wants the latest shiny toy but doesn't want to pay for it, I have changed phones and service providers quite a few times. Started with one2none and then voda then o2 back to voda and now t-mobile (for the data package...). However what caught me out was it used to be you could down grade your package after 3 months (on a 12 month contract), now I've been told only after 11 months (on an 18). This certainly wasn't pointed out to me at the time - although I did buy online so maybe it was hidden in some small print somewhere... Kind of annoying

  10. Anonymous Coward


    It appears to be quite obvious in the example given. Imagine a different example where a customer asks 'what is this 18 months contract about?" and the answer is something in line with "oh if you wish to end the contract before you will have to return the phone". Which then does not necessarily translate into "you will have to pay the subscription until the end of those 18 months".

    Ofcourse the customer should read the fineprint - but how many of you read the fine print on things you buy in supermarkets etc (e.g. list of ingredients). IF we all did infact read the ingredients of food a bit more often - for example - I can imagine many products loosing their appeal quicker than quick... But most of us do not seem to be too interested and so we buy things based on some misplaced trust on the seller. So why would anyone expect people to behave differently when they 'just get a phone"? After all - its not like buying a house or anything? Dumb - maybe not - naive and ignorant - certainly...

  11. Richard Hall
    Paris Hilton

    How thick

    are some people. I can just see the thought process -

    Ooooo shiny phone, looks nice and shinier than my friends. Looks like the one that *enter z list celb name* has

    Oooo it's free.

    Got to have it, got to have it, got to have it.....

    What's an 18 month contract ?

    Shall I read what I'm signing - hhhmmm *gets distracted by shiny object - turns out th be the phone they are buying*

    after this brief spell of having a few thoughts they leave the store with the new phone and only ever use it to send text messages and calls, never using the other technology it has. So they could have kept the old phone!

    It's not the companies fault is some of the customers are too think to understand what they are signing! Jeez it's simple really

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  13. Old Geezer

    You only have to watch their adverts...

    The phones 4 U television adverts make it quite clear of how they view a typical customer- as they feature misfits, cretins, idiots and imbeciles.

    The subtext is clear - you have to be really stupid to do business with us.

    I hate those ads.....

  14. Simon Oxlade

    Better than Caprhone Warehouse

    They're not as bad as CPW. Just bought a new phone from those scumbags - everything fine until I insert the SIM (thus breaking the seal that says "If you break this seal you cannot return the phone" - nice!).

    Cue phone calls from CPW checking that I'm alright ("Fine thanks, please cancel your insurance.") followed by four phone calls inside a hour ("Why don't you want our insurance?" "I just don't, please go away" "Why not try it for the 'free' first month?" "Are you serious??")

    Then I discover that they'd also signed by up to some 'helpline' at £2.99 per month which is actually pretty tricky to cancel (hidden online cancellation button).

    The whole process is so underhand and sneaky I'd never use them again...

    Phones 4 U gave you the hard sell, but I found them to be pretty solid at explaining everything and also didn't sign you up to stuff you didn't want...

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Consumers want the earth!!

    I'm not sticking up for the networks, but there was another part of the dispatches program which amazed me with the greed/stupidity of people.

    People we buying expensive phones/contracts from backstreet Phone shops which were offering ridiculous cash back deals. i.e.

    The Network sells a contact for £60 per month

    The Shop says that they will £40 per month back to the customer

    Six-months later the shop goes bust (or more likely the owner does a flit) and the customers don't get their cash back and can't afford the contract.

    These people then form action groups and get support from stupid publicity seeking MP's demanding that the networks let them off paying. Why?? It isn't the network that is giving the cashback, it's the store.

    The moral is there is no such thing as a free lunch.

  16. oxo
    Thumb Down

    Gits the lot of them

    P4U sold my other half and 18 month 3G contract on the 3 network, despite the fact that there is no coverage where we live. They told her there was ;(

    When she went back and complained, they simply set the phone to only find GSM networks.


  17. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    The phone's free you pay for the airtime contract

    Was the rhetoric from the P4U rep here. So you sign an 18 month contract for £40 and get a billion texts and weeks of voice calls and the phone is free.

    I said that was far too many minutes and texts for me have you got a lower tariff? After some head scratching he came back with a lower tarrif, a few hundred texts and a hundred minutes and the phone's free and it costs the same.


    If the phone is free and I go for a lower tariff why should the price be the same?

    Because the phone isn't free. You pay for the phone through your charges!

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Contract is a contract.

    A contract is a contract, if they are too stupid to realise that then its their own fault.

    And not all providers will charge you the remaining months rental to cancel early. I have done the same before and asked how much, and they gave me a nice price of like £45, considering I had 4 months to go @ £25/month.


    I have been caught out by that too, though I was actually told when asked that it was 3 months, so I downgraded, and then I got a letter saying that I downgraded before the time, of 6 months, and that I had to pay a large fee. I complained, they revoked it and returned my contract to the previous tarriff. My complaint about the 3 months was ignored.

    So 6 months, I downgrade my plan, only to get another letter saying I downgraded before the 6 months, and give them loads of money now... The 6 months started again at the 3 month point. Assholes(Orange).

    So even though I am savvy, I was lulled into it by the lying git on the phone when I ordered it.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    I so know the type

    in fact I actually know someone that stupid

    the person in question works in a call centre and asked a customer

    "which part of England is France in?" when said customer was changing address.

    I rest my case!!!

    contract? nah they will just whine at tech support when they drop their new phone in the loo!

    paris, because too many would-be intelligent ladies are emulating her.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Oh dear

    People with IQ's above that of a garden vegetable don't buy their phones from places like Phones4U, they get them from reputable dealers who have internet billing systems which work, failing that they check the on-line reviews of the company before purchasing from them, I find that's a dead give away.

    Paris - well, frankly she is a garden vegetable and probably has an Jesus phone and so would be locked to O2.

  21. Steve Pettifer
    Thumb Down

    They're all Turds

    CPW, P4U - doesn't matter. They're all underhand pond life who will try and scam you rotten. For anyone else who finds themselves signed up to some helpline when getting a new contract, chances are it is an outfit called TMTI ( and the best way to cancel it is to ring them direct and harass them a bit if needs be and they will cancel the subscription and make any refunds due.

    Interestingly, my first mobile, 10 years back, was purchased through the forerunner of P4U and they were bloody useless then and were featured on BBC One's Watchdog for having almost non-existent customer support. I swore I'd never use them again and I've advised many, many people to avoid them in the past. The same goes for Carphone Warehouse, the most inept company since British Leyland.

    Me? I make sure I know what contract I want then go through an established outlet like dialaphone who I have used a few times and aren't too bad. No money back gimmicks, got a free Hi Def LCD telly instead, job done.

  22. punks unite
    Paris Hilton

    Why anyone would go to these

    idiots for a phone after all the cr@p adverts that they put on tv. I don't know anyone who though they were watchable, let alone good.

    And as for those that get sucked into an 18 month contract then complain that they can't get out, perhaps they should have applied some though before hand and not just though about how good their gonna look with their new gadget.

    i signed up for a 12 month contract with Vodafone, and pay about £40 a month. A month later I had a nice indian fellow call me and ask me if I wanted to extend it to 18 months, I let him know that if I wanted an 18 month contract, I would have signed up for one last month.

    He then tried to temp me with the offer that if I said yes now, the would take £20 of my next bill. OK, so Vodafone would have given £20 next month, so I can give Vodafone another £240 next year. He didn't get the irony, and said that many poeple had signed up. I have no sympatyhy for the tards.

    Paris cause she seems to be smarter than most people, Sad, but true :(

  23. Gareth

    Phones 4U = Dodgy

    To be honest Phones 4U have always been slightly dodgy, known this since I went out with someone who worked there.

    All they really care about is that you have sufficient ID when enquiring about a phone as they cannot shift a contract without it.

    Also all sales floor staff are allowed to 'give away' a certain amount of goodies when buying, the limit used to be £80 per contract (probably changed now) but they are limited by how much they can offer within a month. When they go over this it eats into their commission, so offering as little as they can to bribe you into a sale makes sense. Be wary of the 'FREE MEMORY CARD' that actually comes with the mobile anyway for example.

    And on a final note be aware of what information you give them with regards to your profession or hobbies, they use this to push insurance onto you. For example, you do a lot of gardening "oh, imagine if you left your phone in the garden and it got stolen/started raining. Our ins. would cover you for that" To anyone with common sense, it seems ridiculous but it honestly works.

    Sorry, rant over haha! Just don't like the way these lot do business....

  24. peter

    Contracts are written to take advantage of customers.

    " retailers of failing to notice the stupidity of their customers..."

    Excuse me! That is exactly what they are counting on when they write these contracts. They are desperatly hoping that no-one actually reads the contract - let alone understand it. How else are they going to get people to be stiffed sideways without actually saying so?

  25. Ash

    Salesmen rip off punters in search of profit

    More at 11...

  26. Anonymous Coward

    CPW & P4U out of the same mold!

    I've bought from CPW a couple of times, but prefer to buy direct from the network providers.

    I bought my first ever mobile from CPW, as you could get a pay up front 12 month contract, with inclusive minutes, which meant that I didn't have to pay out each month. (Great when you are a student!)

    I then bought direct from Vodafone and stayed with them for a number of years, then just as my contract was coming to an end, my other half broke her pay as you go phone, and we went to CPW to get her a replacement. Got told we could get a good deal if we both signed up with virgin, didn't tell us about the poor coverage in certain parts of Manchester, like where we lived.

    Then bought direct from Orange, and I am now in my 3rd year with them.

    By buying direct, I find you get much better service, much better customer care, and can more or less stipulate your own contract (number of minutes, texts, number of months etc)

    I would never buy from P4U, because they seem to be agressively into the hard sell, give unrelated stuff away to get the sale. The Ad's are stupid.

  27. bobbles31

    Anonymous Coward

    I used to work at said establishment. At the end of the day they are no different from any other kind of sales person. Be it a Car, a TV or even a House there is somebody involved who makes a living out of you buying whatever it is that they are selling for as much money as possible.

    If people bought what they actually needed and not what Marketing people create a perceived need for then there would be no economy to speak of in the UK aside from Tescos and their food division (and possibly clothing too).

    Whenever you buy anything, you have to remember that if a salesperson is involved then they are a "Professional" seller.

    For me, far worse than some phones sales person is the plethora of "Advisors" that banks employ, be them "Personal Bankers" or "Mortgage Specialists" or whatever. They are pitched as people to help you, when in fact they are just sales people that are regulated by an independent (hah) body.

    As for Phones4U they are guided by the service providers (Vodafone et al) as to what to sell this month. Sometimes they have thresholds that they have to meet in order to get a better deal for all the phones that they have sold in a month. Sometimes providers go into "Need more users mode" and up their commissions considerably to try and buy market share. Phones4U (and all the others including Dial-a-phone) are all driven by these same forces. Its called a competitive market place. There is only so much -f-o-o-d- customers to go around and they are all competing to get their share.

    If you don't like it, I hear that Cuba is nice.

  28. davefb

    small print

    if people dont understand it, then the salesperson is not explaining it correctly. It should not be the requirement of the customer to be a contract genius. Having said that, a salesperson is not a contract expert either.

    And as for the so called dumb person, perhaps she assumed the deal was that P4U wouldnt increase the price in 18months if she kept paying, is that really so bizarre?

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Okay by me

    I've purchased from Phones4u. One thing the dispatches program seemed to miss out is that the Sales staff have a sort of survey form they have to fill in when you want to purchase a contract asking what sort of usage you currently use to determin a suitable package. When I went for the contract the salesman wrote which package they suggested and asked me to sign the survey to say that I agreed with what he had put as my requirements and the package he was suggesting for me. This was before he'd put it through the computer and I had signed the contract. I'd never come across anything like this so was a bit dubious about signing but the salesperson explained that they have to do it and if the survey wasn't signed he wouldn't get any comission from the sale. I think they've probably put this in place to stop any misselling. If anyone has signed this survey and the contract and isn't aware of what they are signing for then they are a dim to say the least. In any company with sales staff you'll always get some dodgey ones although I was glad to see when I brought my phone from Phones4u they were actually making an effort to prevent this. P.S. to the guy that referred to using dial-a-phone instead of CPW or P4u. You should read El Reg more often - as an article stated earlier this year they are owned by Phones 4u!

  30. Bob ter

    Well thats Sh*theads4U

    Yup Phones4U are the dumps, thats what happens when you pay your staff pennies and expect them to earn the rest in commission. I'm not an idiot (honest) but I bought my last phone from phones4U, I knew exactly what I wanted and got it except for the fact that when it came to the end of my 12 months I found out they had actually signed me up to an 18 month contract even tho I asked for 12 months specifically on a number of occasions.

    I've gone with Virgin this time, tenner a month and no bloody contract thank you very much.

    Plus I hate busy indian call centers and I hate their ads on telly. I'm gald to see the sh*t sticking to the fan, unfortunately they've already made their money, a huge ofcom fine would make me a happy man.

  31. James Whale

    Not all retailers are created equal...

    ... and Phones4U is perhaps the worst of the high street phone floggers. They're pushy, aggressive and the product knowledge of their salespeople is usually below par. They care about commission and commission only. And what do you expect from a Caudwell company? The man's selfish grasping influence extends downard throughout his organisation and attracts the wrong sort of people to work within it.

    I've always bought my phones from CPW and had few problems with them - despite the odd consultant who couldn't give a toss, in my opinion they're the best bet for customer service.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    @ bobbles31

    I agree with you that Cuba is nice, however, they have now unfortunately opened up their mobile network to all their citizens (although the only carrier so far is the national phone comp)... I expect they will get their own version of P4U soon enough :o(

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    <no title>

    It is too a form of credit. Any contract where you get the service and then pay for it later, say at the end of the month, has extended you credit during the period.

    Hmm... I find it hard to believe that folk who are asked to sign a contract would not realise there were consequences to breaking it. Would take that as too obvious to point out. But that doesn't excuse dodgy selling, if that is what happens.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    @Well thats Sh*theads4U

    Their call centre is based in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire - they don't have any indian call centres and never have.

  35. Anonymous Coward

    Look after number one

    Just let these people carry on - their stupidity helps keep the bills low for those of us that can read!

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    @Not all retailers are created equal...

    They aren't owned by Caudwell and haven't been for a long time. They are owned by provident equity partners.

    Is Caudwell a selfish man? - well he's the only person who runs a charity that he personally pays all the admin for - the only charity where all money goes to the end cause and doesn't end up in charity workers pockets. I'd rather give money to his charity than to ones that pay a the charity director hundreds of thousands of pounds of donated money a year!

  37. Paul Charters


    Despite the attitude of so many arrogant so-and-so's on here, it is very true that Phones4U are deliberately misleading. Their sales people will do everything they can to avoid telling you of commitments, hidden costs, extras, etc.

    Their sales people are extremely pushy, outright liars and extremely poor technically. They answer questions with incorrect answers, just to look as if they know what they're talking about (although I admit I do like the look on their faces when I completely bamboozle them) and they are perfectly willing to lie about your statutory rights on returning a phone.

    Why they aren't brought up on criminal charges I have no idea. Poor legal system I guess...

  38. Steve

    @Well thats Sh*theads4U

    Unlike Virgin with their Indian call centres then?

  39. Matthew Hepburn

    Phones 4 the other chap in the street maybe?

    Last time I went into P4U - wanting a replacement for a Nokia 3310 - wanting Pay as U go on 02, I got a salesman trying to sell me a 3G phone on Orange!

    He looked puzzled when I walked out? Perhaps he misheard me....

  40. Andy Hards
    Thumb Down

    @ oxo

    you have 14 days grace period to return the phone. I won't say it's no questions asked but they can't say no, (7 days if it's a renewal). A fewe years ago I got a 6280 thinking it was a better phone than my 6680, which I was going to give to my missus. When I realised it was not better I took it back saying I wanted to cancel. The first sales assistant offered me about £50 not to cancel. His boss offered £80 then £100 and after being put through to two more people at their HQ who were each authorised to offer more and more I finally got it cancelled. I think they went up to £280 at the end, but I really didn't want it so wasn't going to take anything no matter how much, cos I didn't like the phone. They weren't happy cos the staff are on mandatory targets. They either reach the target or look for a new job. Go it there once a month for 3 months and see how many of the staff are new each time.

    It's the fact that they pounce on you and start the hard sell straight away. "What contract are you on? We'll buy you out of it. Don't get that one get this one it's better (when it's clearly not). At least at CWH it's possible to walk through the door and have a look at the phones before getting attacked.

    I'm more than happy with 3. On my third contract with them and have one for the missus too (which is no only a tenner a month with the same minutes and texts she signed up to over 2 years ago).

  41. Joe

    Unscrupulous sales tactics

    It's called Capitalism, people!

  42. Cliff

    Outright liars

    P4U gave me the heavy sell when I was looking through my options last contract renewal time. I use my mobile internet loads, so this was an absolute key feature of any deals I did. We discussed this explicitly, we discussed that I was currently paying £5.62/month for T-Mobile 'Unlimited' Web'n'walk (£7.50month less 25% discount), we filled in one of the P4U customer interrogation forms, I was handed, by name, from salesperson to salesperson up the tree until I sat with the branch manager. He was trying to explain (fast and loose - luckily I'm anal about detail when it involves me spending more money) that Vodafone's 'Unlimited' mobile internet was IDENTICAL to the T-Mobile one. I enquired what the cap on the 'unlimited' usage was (being an untrusting type), and was told there was no cap. Short of calling him a liar, I confirmed with vodafone that there was no such offering from them, the ONLY 'unlimited' internet was capped to 120MB/month with some outrageous megabyte rate thereafter. My WnW from T-mobile is capped at 3Gigs/month - of which I use around 750 Megs.

    Surprisingly, the store manager was absolutely unwilling to write on his own customer interrogation form his claims that there was no cap on the data, was extremely keen to (verbally, not on paper) count the same cash rebate twice (once he counted it in the 'buy you out of your old contract' section, and again in the 'cashback discount on your monthly tariff'). I wish I could be generous, and say that I thought he was just incompetent - but no, he was plenty smart enough to know the contracts he was pushing and the cashback nonsense etc too. Sadly, I have to just straight claim P4U employ at least 2 outright liars in their local store to me. Hardly shocking news, but they nearly rolled me over, and I'm pretty mentally agile and know at least some of my rights. If I'd been a bit slower or denser, my data bills alone would have paid for sales spiv boy's shiny suit bills for the whole 18 months.

  43. Nicholas Wright


    When I started work at 18 I was told I was going to get £8 per hour, and I worked 8 hours every Sunday, and for 4 weeks which equals £256. I dreamed of what I would spend the money on. When I received my pay packet, I only saw £188.

    "WTF!?", I remember saying.

    "Your pay is taxed", I'm told.

    "Why?" Nothing was taken off me when I received pocket money. Now I have a job, I've not been told that I've gained anything from the government. Why do I now have to pay a share of my money to the Government? What do I get in return?

    This was my first shock of the real world.

    So I can easily imagine an 18 year old not knowing what they're getting into with contracts. Contracts? That's the things that companies sell to each other? But I pay so much a month and get this phone? Kewl.

    I've no idea what a contract is - I've never dealt one before. Anyway, if I want a different phone I'll go to a different mobile company.

    What? I need to keep paying money? How come?

    I don't remember discussing anything legal, or being asked am I sure, or anything of any substance to indicate I was entering anything that could end up with me going to prison. It's just so easy.

    So give those 18 year olds a break. They can stop working at McDonalds whenever they like, they don't necessarily pay tax (if at school), they're still at school with teachers telling them what they can and can't do and perhaps getting detention, but it's trivial to enter a legal contract where you could end up with a lifetime of bad credit and a possible jail sentence by getting a piece of fashion.

  44. Phil Hare
    Dead Vulture


    "...apparently accusing phone retailers of failing to notice the stupidity of their customers."

    Is it a person's fault that they're stupid? I mean, are you implying that people *choose* to be stupid? The responsibility has to lie with the retailers, because stupid people are, by definition, too stupid to handle it.

  45. Chad H.

    this crap is easy to avoid

    I remember when my mum was getting a mortgage she got a mortgage broker with severeal agreements, and he proudly boasted "you can tell my advice is independent as no matter which one of these companies you go with, I get exactly the same commision. The banks hate it, they'd rather pay me more so I push their products over anothers, but I'm not here for the banks, I'm here for you.

    So its simple, pay them the same no matter what phone, contract I'd tarrifs they pay, that way the staff are not dragged by their wallets, but by the best chance to sell.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Phones 4u accused of misleading customers

    and other news, pope believed to crap in the woods.

  47. Pete


    If the yoofs are too busy skiving off or admiring each others phones to pay attention in school when being educated about the pitfalls of modern life, well, thats their fault isn't it?

  48. The Mysterious Panda
    Paris Hilton

    Somebody set up us the contract...

    Whatever the company, the salesman issue can be a matter of luck.

    Working at Phones4U helped me pay my way through my first degree. Our manager was a very good, fair guy and our top salesperson (also a student) went out of his way to be genuine and helpful - maybe that was why he did so well. We had a good rep and prided ourselves on product knowledge, possibly assisted by the majority of us being fairly geeky. We had a great 'first name terms' working relationship with people at HO and could get problems fixed by a few polite requests in the right ear.

    The *other* Phones4U shop only a few minutes walk away was best described as a 'wretched hive of scum and villainy'. They often called us when faced with tricky situations - ie 'We're stuck in the bathroom as we're confused - which bit is our arse and which bit is our elbow?' Our local Orange shop was run by total muppets and was widely known for it, whereas the Orange shops in the next town had some really good staff who would happily go the extra mile for the sake of customer service. When the local CPW opened, they were really on the ball. Competitors or not, we were always happy to acknowledge that. That approach brought us business and helped keep customers happy.

    Your experience completely depends on which shop you choose. Not even between companies, but between the shops within the same company. A good branch will get you better customer service because they will have worked on building a good relation with the right people at Head Office. It shouldn't work that way but it does. High turnover of staff pretty much destroys that. Long term staff also tend to feel more accountable therefore responsible. Some of us did actually genuinely care, believe it or not.

    There's loads about good and bad practice that could be discussed (and several scary stories about ineptitude in some situations) but it always comes back to luck. Get the right salesman, or get the right customer service agent, and you'll have a good experience. Get a bad'un and you'll get pissed off fairly quickly. Much like girlfriends, in fact...

    Must say, having browsed through the old shop recently and finding all the old faces have gone, they now suck worse than MegaMaid.

    On a side note, when I was working for them (many years ago) we had better basic pay than most of our competitors.

    Paris, because like MegaMaid she went from suck to blow!

  49. Charles Manning

    What! No customer protection?

    It seems the UK needs some sort of cutomer protection like we have in New Zealand.

    We are well protected against false or misleading sales tactics.

    We also have a "cooling off period" where you can get out of "cold called" contracts for various reasons. If you got sold something over the phone you can return it and pay nothing.

    These are not just protected by civil law. Companies that rack up enough complaints can be fined etc.

  50. Anonymous Coward

    Just love the references

    .. .to Phones4U - pondlife, scum etc then you get this one ...


    They're all Turds

    By Steve Pettifer

    Me? I make sure I know what contract I want then go through an established outlet like dialaphone who I have used a few times and aren't too bad. No money back gimmicks, got a free Hi Def LCD telly instead, job done


    Errr - Dialaphone is OWNED by Phones4U lolz

  51. Scott Mckenzie


    People slate the cost of the iPhone tariff etc and then you read all the above.... you buy the contract direct from the reliable retailer such as direct from Manufacturer and things tend to be a touch better....

    Pay £15 for 6 million minutes, unlimited texts etc and you have to assume there is a catch, they're supplying the same hardware on the same network yet for half the price, clearly something isn't quite right... sure it could be the fact that the network has larger overheards and desires more profit, but they're not going to price them out of the market.

    £35 a month for an iPhone tariff with come back and a touch of honesty is actually very good value... if you ask me.

  52. Chris

    Re: Better than Caprhone Warehouse By Simon Oxlade

    The 2.99 tech support thing you talk about is always mentioned during the sale... by having that it probably enabled you to get a further discount off something else... You just to stupid to remember when you gewt the bill, anyway it sounds like actually

    I've brought Direct from Orange and they stuck on an unlimited off peak browsing package at a fiver a month, they never told me about that... it took months to cancel as well

    Everyone one of them (networks and p4u) is in the business of sales, and like even financial institutions they pass sales-patter off as advice just to get you to sign, if your to stupid to work out whats right for you, then your not clever enough to own a phone in the first place

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Labour's coffers

    Tut tut. Clearly the boss of P4U hasn't ponied up with this years required donation to Nu Labour. Well, a dose of toothless collar feeling will doubtless put this foolish move in perspective, and his firm will get unsurprising clean bill of health from Ofcom just after the party conference season.

    Why isnt there a a 'screw Ofcom' icon?

  54. Chip Mefford

    In these modern times

    *anyone* hands you a contract, it is in their interests, not yours, that you sign.

    This is always true. The exceptions are so rare they are buried in the noise floor.

  55. archie lukas

    How come mobile phone companies all have these bizarre contracts?

    What is wrong with a simple no-bullshit plain-english worded contract.

    No catches, no gotchas & no crap?

    Do these companies not make obscene profits?

    Of course.....

    So why not adopt the British fair-play system and stop forcing these almost illegal nasty pieces of contractual trickery?

    Its not nice, its not clever

    and dammit its just not Cricket! What !!!???

    Never invite these Johnnies around to tea

    Ignore them in the street

    Show disrespect for their gel formed hair

    and never buy from them .........

  56. The Mysterious Panda
    Paris Hilton

    @ archie lukas

    "So why not adopt the British fair-play system and stop forcing these almost illegal nasty pieces of contractual trickery?"

    We have a British fair-play system? Distinct from 'contractual trickery'? Must have slept through that Law of Contract lecture...

    The following OfCom slap-down for a '3' contract might provide interesting reading, especially noting your 'plain english' comment.

    Ok, maybe not a slap-down by the Mighty Moderaterix standards, but at least a limp-wristed fumble.

    Pais, because she's almost synonymous with limp-wristed fumbles.

  57. pctechxp

    oh almost forgot

    I buy my phones from either mail order catalogues or direct from the operators website.

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    a very crooked firm

    I have to agree with Mysterious Panda - I also worked for Phones4U years ago as a branch manager - once I weeded out 2 very dishonest staff I had a great team who gave excellent advice and put the customer's needs ahead of their commission.

    However, we were in a tiny minority, and the company ethos actively encouraged aggressive selling - and indirectly encouraged, if not condoned mis-selling. Lying to get a sale was quite acceptable - you got the sale, and that was the important thing!

    As an example, I was told by my area manager that I was doing a poor job because my level of cancellations was too low- so we weren't selling hard enough!

    The only surprise to me about the current situation is that it has taken so long to come about - the company are still terrible, but they're far better than in the past - even if its not by choice but simply because the networks are more strict.

  59. The_Police!

    Phones 4U....

    ... is not afraid of Bill Ray.

    Mines the one with 'phoney' emblazoned on it.

  60. pctechxp

    The wonders of prepay

    Yes I know what a contract is but I choose to be on prepay, no DD cockups, dodgy insurance or pushy sales.

    I buy the hardware and pay upfront for a phone service which I use when I want with no drain on my salary (I have the gas electric and BT for that)

  61. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Showroom only

    Rule of thumb go into any high street phone shop, ask about the handset you are interested in, feign interest and appear stupid and let them wax lyrical on how good a deal you are getting. When you are happy with the phone demo ring your network provider and order it. Simple.

    Paris because she knows I don't want insurance when I buy a phone.

  62. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ha ha ha ha

    Phones 4U misleading customers. There's a shocker.

    I used to work for O2 customer services and the number of complaints we used to get because of them. Complaints about us though, because they always seem to forget who sold them the phone. They just used to blatantly lie to their customers and leave it to the networks to sort out.

  63. Anonymous Coward


    I went into Phones4u to get a phone but they didn't have any. At least they were kind enough to sell me these magic beans for only £65 a month.

    Pirates, all of them. NEVER buy from that shop, it is about time they were investigated.

  64. Daniel Pocock

    12 month contract turns out to be 18

    The one and only time we used Phones 4 U, we were outright lied to. We simply asked for a 12 month contract, with a particular phone and under £35 a month. They said 'Yes, we can do that' offered us a contact for £36.50 but can reduce it to £33 per month.

    All looking good so far!!!

    But then we signup.. they then pull £60ish out the till and send us off.Firstly cash back on signing up is not the same as £3.5 off per month.Secondly we specifically asked for 12 month and found we had a 18 month.

    That was the first and last time I am ever going anywhere near a Phones 4 U store. (PS I'm not dumb, just lied to)

  65. James Yeates
    Paris Hilton


    It is more than just stupidity, I was blatently lied to by a sales advisor for dialaphone (a phones4u company).

    He told me that I would have no problem porting my orange number after recieving a new vodafone handset on a 18 month contract. When i phoned voda to perform this they told me that they don't deal in temporary numbers and i'd be stuck with the one they gave me.

    To Voda's credit they sorted me out in the end but no thanks to dialaphone

  66. Anonymous Coward

    plenty more goings on......

    As an ex-p4u employee, i remember that when i suggested a tarriff to a customer, the sales floor controler or store mgr usually overruled me, and suggested the tarriff that made the store the most money (shock!!!!) When i questioned this i was told to stop complainining as it made me more commission! I could tell you plenty more, but then the post will probably be rejected and the p4u legal team would be all over me!!!!!

    Posting anonymously because of the legal comebacks!!!!


    PHONES 4 U



  68. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    P4U are useless. I used to work for a Network Shop whilst I was at Uni. One of the lads in my halls had got a 'deal' at Phones4U, but didn't have a Credit Card to be Credit Checked against. No problems for P4U who checked my card for his contract...

    They didn't have the phone he wanted in stock, but sold him a different one advising he went back a week later and swapped it, just so they could get the contract sale there and then.

    Interestingly, I asked the P4U guy about upgrading my phone - which he told me wasn't possible on my network without paying a huge fee - which as someone who sold them I knew to be complete and utter bullshit.

    I've also known them be canvassing in the street at 9pm and bringing customers in through the back door on the last day of the month to hit target.

    Paris because... the network I worked for got taken over by some company from Paris. Vive les frogs.

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