O2 staff fear for jobs as iPhone process questioned


Store staff have urged O2 to toughen up its prepay upgrade process ahead of the launch of the 3G Apple iPhone on July 11.

Staff fear the system is open to abuse from box breakers to take huge discounts, while staff have been warned their jobs may be at risk if they are found to be selling to box breakers.

On contract, the new iPhone requires customers to sign up at point of sale. Previously, customers could buy an iPhone and take it home to connect via iTunes, which left it open to box breaking.

But box breakers have welcomed news it will now also be available on prepay, enabling a straight kit purchase without committing to a contract.

O2 has made it necessary for prepay customers to activate the device on iTunes too, and for existing prepay customers to take a new SIM card in the process. At regional training days for store staff and managers this month, it also warned them against selling the phone in multiples and using staff discounts against purchases.

One O2 staffer said: “The basic message is, sell it properly or be sacked. We have been told they are tracking staff purchases at head office to make sure. They really aren’t messing around with this.

“We have been told we are not, under any circumstances, to sell more than one iPhone per customer, or to staff.”

Mobile News revealed last month O2 sacked around six staff for selling iPhones to box breakers and via eBay.

It is understood Carphone has also issued warnings to staff about using staff discounts and buying multiple handsets.

O2 staff have also been reminded to watch for abuse of O2’s Prepay Customer Management Tool (PCMT), which facilitates prepay upgrades and has historically enabled box breakers to obtain easy £100 discounts on prepay handsets.

The PCMT system is accessible by staff via in-store intranet, and is used for prepay customers to identify their monthly spending patterns and to see if upgrade discounts, calculated according to their monthly top ups, are available. Box breakers, with reams of randomly picked prepay accounts, have fraudulently obtained up to £100 off prepay kit prices this way, claim staff.

An O2 store worker said: “PCMT doesn’t require any identification to access the customer’s account, just a phone number. It isn’t difficult to go through a pattern of numbers and obtain a discount.”

The prepay iPhone price has yet to be released, but it will be available as a prepay upgrade.
Another staffer claimed: “Some staff who sell handsets to box breakers will go through a list of other people’s phone numbers until they find one with a decent discount.

“Allowing the iPhone on this will almost certainly encourage box breakers to try.
“O2 needs to add some kind of security to prevent it, as we don’t always know if they are genuine customer or not, and it could potentially cost us our job.”