1/28/2009 3:35:00 PM
Phones 4u sacks 16 staff after Sim-only upgrade scam
Phones 4u sacked 16 staff after discovering a scam that allowed customers to upgrade to top-end handsets on Sim-only deals, between August and the beginning of October 2008.
Free high-end phones, such as the Nokia N95, were given away on Vodafone’s £20-per-month, Sim-only deal, offering 600 minutes and unlimited texts. The value in the deal is predicated on no handset being subsidised.
Vodafone was effectively subsidising high-end handsets on rich Sim-only deals.
One Phones 4u manager said: ‘This could be done by accident but there would need to be sufficient knowledge of the system to repeatedly do it.’
Phones 4u said the problem had now been dealt with and the matter ended in October. However, staff sources at Phones 4u indicated that others had been more recently disciplined for executing the same scam.
Staff claimed the loophole was still present on the system and that further instances of staff performing the scam had been ignored.
This was strongly denied by Phones 4u.
Lewis Porter, head of security and investigations at Phones 4u, said: ‘Last autumn, as part of our ongoing compliance monitoring, Phones 4u identified a potential issue with regards to Sim-only sales. This was the result of a technical flaw within the network process and non-compliance of this process.’
Porter added: ‘We worked closely with our business partners to ensure minimum impact, and an investigation into this issue resulted in a number of staff being disciplined and removed from the business. A fix was immediately implemented and as a result no further issues have been detected.’
But Phones 4u sources claimed the problem was much more widespread: ‘I know of one shop that was doing multiple high-end handsets sometimes to the same people; no-one has been sacked there.’
It is believed that Vodafone has sought clawbacks from Phones 4u. Vodafone declined to comment.