Box breakers exploit iPhone discount

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Box breakers are targeting the 8GB Apple iPhone after The Carphone Warehouse and O2 slashed £100 off its retail price last week.

The device’s price has been cut to £169 until June. Since the price drop, the retailer and operator have seen a boom in trade on the 8GB iPhone, with many consumers flocking to unlockers with a view to box-breaking the handset.

Fone Doctors proprietor Faisal Sheikh said: "We’ve seen a massive increase in the number of iPhones coming through our doors. This morning alone, I received nine iPhones to unlock and over the weekend around 40 came in.

"The price drop has seen the iPhone become a huge target for box breakers. They’ll shift their attention away from budget prepay phones at Argos, Tesco and Woolworths, because this is something they simply can’t miss out on.

"It will affect Carphone and O2 more than Apple, because it’s a new company on the mobile phone market and any sales it can make will help it achieve a status of becoming a top manufacturer."

One dealer claimed a Carphone insider was sure many customers weren’t buying the handset for themselves.

He said: "I had a call from a Carphone manager over the weekend who was of the firm belief it’s box breakers who now want the iPhone. The price drop has been a blessing for them, as the demand is now there."

O2 denied box breaking is now an issue with the iPhone and played down the problem. A spokesperson said: "We’re aware of the issue, but do not view it as a significant problem for the phones that we sell.

"Box breakers tend to target phones that are very heavily subsidised. The majority of phones we sell retail from around £50 and therefore most of the traditional box breaking takes place below this level. We also lock the SIM card to the phone in a number of instances, as well as limiting the number of handsets that an individual can buy."

A Carphone spokesman also dismissed any potential problems and said there are plenty of procedures in place to ensure box breaking isn’t an issue.

"We have no robust procedure in place to stamp out this particular problem. Customers are only allowed to purchase two iPhones at any one time, so it at least minimises this issue," he said.

"We also have a system in place called ‘Red’, which checks a customer’s credit card for an previous fraudulent activity and, with the point of sale checks that O2 has in place, we’re confident this isn’t a major problem.

This article originally appeared in Mobile News sister publication Fone, on April 24, 2008.

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