Hainault phone dealership owned by ex-eBay millionaire responds to avalanche of complaints
PUBLISHED: 08:39 15 October 2019 | UPDATED: 09:59 15 October 2019
A Hainault phone dealership has insisted issues are being dealt with after coming under fire from customers who bought expensive phones.
Quick Mobile Fix was reported to Trading Standards by clients from Kent to Anglesey over recent delayed orders.
Customers said they sought refunds from their banks or were left hundreds of pounds out of pocket while waiting for a response from the company, while others reported technical faults.
Quick Mobile Fix is owned by Chinedu Ken Emechebe, a former eBay trader who topped a 2015 'rich list' of the website's biggest sellers, whose eBay stores are now closed.
He said that QMF, which is based at Hainault Business Park, had grown quickly and been a victim of its own success, adding that delays were common in the mobile phone industry and the Facebook page had created "panic".
"We are learning from our mistakes," he said. "Communication is something we are trying to improve."
But he added: "People will get a refund if they are due a refund."
A Facebook group for aggrieved customers had 565 members at the start of this week.
For its part, QMF said not all of them were in its records and in the past two years, it had 175,000 customers, of which only a "handful" now had outstanding complaints.
Sue Power, a single mother from Bournemouth, reported four months of "sheer hell" after paying £649 for an iPhone X for her son's 18th birthday.
The phone was due to arrive in 10 days but was delayed for a month. On arrival, it came in the wrong box and did not work.
When she returned it, QMF inadvertently stored it in the wrong place and despite several requests, the promised refund did not materialise until September 17 after she threatened to attend the office with police.
"I was desperate to make my son's birthday beautiful," she said. "I was gutted. Mistakes happen, but this is incredulous."
A customer from Kent, who asked not to be named, said her 15-year-old son paid £427.99 for an iPhone 8 back in June, using birthday money and savings from his paper round.
The device that arrived was faulty, they said, and QMF sent them three requests for £19.99 to carry out "diagnostics tests".
They have not been refunded as QMF said her son damaged the phone by not packing it safely when it was sent back. When she tried to call on September 2, she found she was 48th in a queue.
Customers asking for help on Facebook have received responses from "Kevin Sims", a Facebook account purporting to be a "freelance social media manager" and employee of QMF, who is not a real person.
Michelle Roberts, 36, from Wales, fought to get a refund for her 15-year-old daughter who bought a £260 iPhone 7 in July that never arrived. The refund was paid on September 26 after the Recorder mentioned their case to QMF.
She said: "I don't know how they can carry on."
Others have chased refunds through their banks instead, such as Keith Spencer, a pensioner from Birmingham, who paid £197 on August 6 and cancelled after nothing had arrived by August 26.
Murat Yilmaz, 47, from Kent, went to PayPal to get his £594.99 after cancelling his phone within an hour of purchase.
Two weeks later QMF sent him a phone despite his request for a refund. The company said he had re-ordered on the 25th, but he insists he did not and refused to sign for it.
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He said: "They tried to buy time by saying they had sent a phone out. I told them I didn't want it but they still refused to refund me."
Complaints about QMF's old trade-in service and current operations have also been made on Trustpilot.
Redbridge Trading Standards said they had visited the premises once before and would now do so again.
A council spokeswoman said: "The number of complaints about this company have been unacceptably high and it's not on for them to be owing substantial amounts of money for long periods of time.
"We've visited the company to undertake a thorough probe of their business practices. Following this investigation, the number of complaints reduced but there has been another spike in concerns raised and we will be following this up with the company."
Owner of embattled phone trader insists 'We are not scamming anyone'
The Recorder visited Quick Mobile Fix's warehouse in Hainault Business Park, on Friday, September 20.
A former eBay business registered there, Edigital Solutions Limited, went into liquidation in March owing £1.1m to unsecured creditors.
The owner, Chinedu Emechebe, would not comment on what happened to that company or his other now-closed eBay shop, universalgadgets01.
He said QMF previously offered a trade-in service for old phones which was "a huge success but apparently we couldn't manage it" and now sells used phones, catering for up to 200 customers a day.
He said the Facebook page had caused panic among other would-be customers, leading to a flood of premature refund requests.
Delays, he said, were common in the industry and pre-used phones had to undergo quality checks, but QMF was taking steps to improve quality control and strengthen its 12-strong customer services team by introducing an online chat function.
Companies House records show in 2017/18 the average number of employees - including the two directors - was eight, but Mr Emechebe said his company was now a "huge employer in Ilford" with 44 staff members overall.
He said: "We are not going to say we're perfect. What we suffer in this company is our own success. We have a lot of customers and a lot going on. Communication is something we are trying to improve.
"We have an online account that has grown very quickly. We are not scamming anyone."
He and staff did not dispute that "Kevin Sims" did not exist, saying they set up the account to protect employees' privacy. "Kevin" is manned by a 22-year-old former Havering College student.
On the day of the visit we were shown a back office, where computers had scripts taped to them advising staff how to handle refund requests, and a warehouse brimming with labelled boxes of mobile phone parts, and desks set up for technicians.
Mr Emechebe added that in his view, the vast majority of disputes had been resolved and those with outstanding complaints were a tiny portion of those using the company.
He said: "There is no customer out there who can say that they have been ignored by QMF. I can guarantee that every customer that has a problem with QMF will be resolved."
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