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Too old for a mobile phone? Take care ...

Updated: Feb 1

Too Old for a Mobile Phone? Take care ...


Recently, an elderly female relative aged 83 managed to drop her mobile phone down the loo. As she was “in full flow” by then, it remained submerged for a couple of minutes. Despite her subsequent attempts to revive it (including leaving it overnight in a jar of rice!), the phone really did seem to be “dead in the water”.


She took the phone to a local mobile phone store as she believed that was the only place where mobile phones could be purchased. A salesperson confirmed that the phone was indeed dead. She was then told that it had not been possible to save the old SIM card and her only/best option was to sign up for a new two-year contract with them for a new iphone SE and a monthly contract amounting to £30 per month covering the cost of the phone and a “plan”. She was told that she could not retain her existing number and that a one-off charge of £50 would be required to exit her previous contract (which had been £7 per month SIM only).


When she told us about this, we immediately queried what she had been told. We asked her for a copy of the contract which she had signed up to (which she did not have). When she phoned the store to request it, she was told that they no longer did paper contracts and that everything was now online (and she did not know how to access this!).


Therefore, in summary, she had been persuaded to give up her old number, purchase a new phone and commit to a new two-year contract.


new iphone SE @ £30/month x 24 = £720 + £65.63 exit charge = £785.63


After a discussion regarding the merits of what she had been bamboozled into accepting, she passed everything over to me. Upon inspection, I was able to retrieve the SIM Card from her old phone which was indeed dead (an old iphone 6S which had seen better days). However, by putting the SIM card into my phone, I was able to request a PAC code from her previous provider which confirmed that she could still retain her old number (which had been worrying her as she did not know how she was going to communicate her change of number to her contacts). They confirmed the PAC code, together with the cost of exiting the previous contract before its expiry resulting in a one-off charge of £65.63. Furthermore, upon investigation, she should also have been eligible for a £5.00 per month discount on the new phone contract as they are existing customers for their home phone and broadband.


I was able to find out online that there was a 14-day cooling-off period. Therefore, I purchased a new iphone SE for her from a well-known internet store which cost £399.00 and was delivered within 24hrs. I inserted her existing SIM card and she was good to go with her own number as if nothing had ever happened. She was able to return and reverse everything which she had been persuaded to sign up to. She took everything back to the store and handed it back to the salesperson.


new iphone SE (+ monthly SIM only plan) = £399 + (24 x £7) = £567 (cost saving £218.63)


This is another example of elderly people being misled and effectively mis-sold. Lack of confidence and familiarity with the subject matter leaves them vulnerable to this kind of abusive behaviour. How is it appropriate for a young salesperson to tell an 83-year-old that their contract is only available online?



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