Buying a used phone comes with a few risks, but after weighing up the pros and cons, many of us are happy to take the plunge if it means getting our hands on a real bargain. But when we purchase a new phone, we have certain expectations that we trust will be met, especially when buying directly from one of the networks.
So when Gina Lala purchased a Motorola Droid X handset labelled as new from an independent Verizon Wireless store in Skokie, Illinois, the last thing that she expected to find on it was someone else’s photos. She told NBC Chicago: “I go into the photo gallery, and there are pictures of people I don’t know, that had already obviously been on the phone. Very disturbing pictures, very offensive pictures.”
A Motorola Droid X. (This probably wasn't one of the photos found on the handset.)
Despite being sold a phone that the store told her was brand new, she had evidently been sold a used handset, at full price, with a photo gallery filled with sexually explicit images of naked men. While some buyers might consider that a free bonus (*giggle*), Lala was understandably not amused.
She returned the phone to the Verizon store, where staff apologised and offered to replace the handset. They insisted that it had been an honest mistake on their part to incorrectly sell a used device as new, and gave their assurances that it wouldn’t happen again. Unbelievably, it happened again (albeit without the nude dudes).
Nancy Lala (left) with her daughter Gina (right)
A year later, Gina’s mother Nancy went to the same Verizon store to purchase a brand new iPhone 4S. When she returned home, it quickly became clear that despite being sold a ‘new’ handset, this one too was second-hand. Nancy explained: “I looked at the box, and on the back of the box, there was a little sticky note that said that this phone had been slammed on a desk and there’s a nick on the back.”
The sticky note that Gina Lala found on the box of her 'new' iPhone 4S from Verizon.
Verizon issued a statement regarding the Lalas’ unusual situation:
We require full disclosure that a device has been previously used. Equipment sales are the agent’s independent business, however. To the extent full disclosure was not provided, we would certainly take corrective action. We appreciate the issue being brought to our attention and we are committed to ensuring adherence with our policies. We will address any customer concerns directly. It is our goal to ensure customer satisfaction."
However, it's emerged that the Lalas are not alone in apparently being sold used devices as brand new, and the problem appears more widespread than just one Verizon store in Illinois, with customers from AT&T, Cricket Wireless and retailer TigerDirect.com claiming to have also been incorrectly sold used handsets, believing they were buying new ones.
The CTIA, the body that claims to represent the interests of America’s wireless telecommunications industry, did not respond to any of NBC’s questions and calls for comment regarding the incorrect sales of used and refurbished handsets as new.
One can’t help but crack a smile at the irony of being unable to contact the people representing the wireless industry.
Second and third images via NBC