The smartphone has become part of everyday life. For a business like mine it had opened up new avenues to spread the word about my clients as a PR. I found some of these shut suddenly when my phone hurtled to the kitchen floor. Just a cracked screen.
I worried the phone may cost a fortune to fix, but got similar quotes from about 3 people and so when one of them called back promising a 48 hr turnaraound, and 6 months warranty, I thought, I could trust the friendly voice of "John" at the other end of the line. The UPS driver arrived within 10 minutes and my phone was in a padded envelope off to Elite Phones And Computers in Manchester. This was a mistake. I hadn't checked the reviews online, something I always do, and warn other when I find the bad ones. I sent the phone on Friday and on Monday checked on progress, using the on-site messaging service the company prefers to use instead of email. I screen-snipped the conversations as I felt this looked a bit unusual. On Monday their reply had the title "Complicated". The phone had further issues and more work would be required. Only then did I check the online reviews, and what a shock.
Elite Phones and Computers has an incredibly large number of negative reviews on Yell, on its Facebook pages (which are multiplying)and on Google. People complain their items fail to come back (Elite blameUPS), items come back in a worse state than they went out, and Elite ask for bigger and bigger fees for people to get their items returned in one piece. There are CCJ's agains Elite for money people are asking them to refund. One of the rare positive reviews is by a girl in China (why use a Manchester firm to fix your phone then?) who coincidentally sells spare parts for phones. People say parts have been stripped from their tech, and items have been returned in bits. Some people have waited many months with no returned item or refund.
Trading Standards, Action Fraud and the police have all been informed of people's suspicions and the things that have occurred. Elite seem to be doing very well at the moment, and they tell me this is because of all their happy customers. I ask those customers to get in touch then, where are they? The 80+ people in the Facebook Group are in various states of despair that they will ever get satisfaction.
That Monday I messaged the company saying I had seen the reviews and demanded my phone back within a week. Magically, "complicated" became "already fixed". The phone came back to me the following Friday, in a takeaway tub wrapped in "Fragile" tape by Royal Mail. Elite had messaged me to say I must open the package before signing for it. This is not the usual Royal Mail procedure so i checked it looked ok externally then went inside to try and get into the package. Not something I could do in front of the postman. The phone looked fixed. On closer inspection there were little traces of glue around the screen and some minor scratches on the frame, but I still felt I had got off lightly. The phone worked. It worked for a week, and then the top of the screen stopped responding. I pressed the area at the top of the screen gently thinking maybe it had lifed, the screen immediately broke and then I could see how very thin it was. This was not like the screen the phone had before, but rather like the thickness of a microscope slide coverslip. I've heard of protective glass covers phones can have, and wondered if one of these had been used as a screen. Also I wondered how they managed to fit it without cracking it.
Having read all the other people's tales of woe, the idea of sending my phone back into Elite's hands didn't seem wise. I told them they had failed to provide a repair of sufficient quality as it had failed within a week. They replied repeatedly that the warranty was invalid as the screen was cracked, I replied their warranty was irrelevant and they had not fulfilled their side of the contract. I am now dealing with my credit card company as the amount I paid, well over £100 after they had added the VAT they never, ever mention in their quotes, is not something I will just write-off. This story is to be continued..
Trading Standards say they cannot say anything but may be able to find things out using a Freedom of Information request.
Meanwhile some other stories:
"Still no return of my kindle or a tracking number despite being told 4 times in the last week that it would be posted back to me unrepaired. Have now reported the matter to Salford Trading Standards & Action Fraud."
"It came back. Unrepaired. With all the screws out and the back taped on. Great."
"I took my Nintendo dsi into the shop directly nearly 4 weeks ago now for a top screen LCD repair. When I called to book it in they took a £10 deposit over the phone and said it would cost £50 to fix in total, shouldn't take more than a day they said....Said they'd call me when it's ready. I have not once received a call from them to update me, first call said they were waiting on the part to arrive from China, second call said they've ordered the wrong part so they have to order it again! I'm so fed up with being fed lies I told them I'm coming to pick it up tomorrow from the shop as I'm not confident they know what they're doing. I'm a bit worried about what I'll be walking into tomorrow and doubtful that'll I'll get my dsi back. Absolutely disgusted."
I'm not saying Elite are stealing people's phones and other tech, cannibalising them and stealing parts to sell, selling other items and claiming they are lost in the post. I'm not saying Elite are incompetent and shouldn't be allowed near your valuable items. I'm not saying don't use them. I can't, that would be slander. However, the number of people who are now wishing they hadn't used them is growing every day. My 1st world nightmare continues....
Continued..here is the full conversation with Elite...I'm obviously reluctant to go much further with this as they are trying to threaten me now, despite the fact they are turning down court dates for people they owe money.