Met my sister this afternoon, straight from work. She had to take a couple of mobile phones back to the shop due to problems.
At the end of September last year she bought three phones on contract (one on Orange for her daughter and two on 3 for herself and her husband) from Phones 4 U (the one at 87-88 High street in Birmingham), she also took out insurance on each phone. The insurance on each one is £10 a month, which is a total rip off (the going rate is £2-3 a month). In the shop they said that it was a great deal, unfortunately my sister tends to trust what she's told rather than realising that the people in the shop are paid according to how well they can lie without getting caught out or saying something that is actually illegal (a good deal, but compared to what? A good deal compared to the bad deal they're also offering? They don't have to compare it to the deals being offered by other retailers). She also bought a hard protective case for each phone to prevent accidental damage.
Her daughter's phone was sold as being new but when they got it home they found that there were already phone numbers stored on it, clearly it was a refurb. they went back tot he shop and were told "That's wierd." At this point I would have demanded a replacement but of course she didn't. Recently the speaker has been playing up (crackly) and the 4 and 5 keys have been sticking. So we take it back to the shop. The guy in the shop (I tried to get his name but he wouldn't give it (ignored the question) and everyone else in the shop denied knowing him) first denied any problem with the speaker (apparently he was the only one who couldn't hear it) and said that the keys shouldn't stick (a lot fo things shouldn't happen, but they sometimes do). Then he started saying that my niece must have dropped it to cause the problems so she'd have to pay for the repairs. Finally he agreed to send it in for a warranty repair (which will take at least 2 weeks) but kept going on about how if they found any evidence that it was dropped then that will be a charged repair. He also said that if they sent it in for repair under the insurance (that good deal that costs only 3-5 times as much as every other deal) then any damage would be repaired but they'd have to pay a £50 excess, and excess they hadn't been told about when they bought the insurance.
The other phone belonged to my sister's husband, the screen had failed and developed cracks. He insisted that this must be accidental damage (although how a screen on a phone inside a hard protective case that is supposed to be designed to protect the screen could be accidental damage is anybody's guess). They're going to have that done as an insurance fix and pay the £50 excess.
The whole time we were there we were subjected to dismissive and negative treatment by the staff of phones for you as if it was we who were running a scam rather than them. Utterly unprofessional.
My sister and my niece now don't have mobile phones (imagine, a 16 year old girl without a mobile! How ever will she survive), my sister has had to pass her mobile on to her husband (hopefully that one won't break as well, it's the same make and model).
I got my first mobile in 1998, I've had several in that time (including work phones), I now have 4 (two contract on Orange and 3, I got the 3 phone because my sister a one of my friend's had switched to that network and it worked out cheaper to get a 3 contract phone than to call them from my Orange phone), one Pay-As-You-Go and one work. I have had to claim on the insurance a few times due to accidental damage and theft. The most I've ever paid for insurance on a phone is £2.90 a month, I have never had to pay any excess for repair or replacement. I've always gone to the network's own shop (first phone was Cellnet, then Orange and finally 3 for my newest phone). Today's experiences have shown, as far as I can tell, that you should never go to Phones 4 U, certainly never the one on the corner of Birmingham High Street and New Street. I hope they go out of business soon.