Staff in network and retail stores claim box breaking has risen
by up to 50 per cent in recent weeks, with many risking their jobs to boost their commission payments.
Mobile News reported earlier this year box breaking had all but been eradicated from stores following negative press and a number of sackings, prompting a clamp down by the networks and retailers.
But it appears the problem is returning, with high street staff claiming requests by box breakers for handsets increased during October as bumper prepay deals hit stores ahead of Christmas and the weak pound makes export attractive.
“Box breaking slowed big time after the iPhone 2G sold out, and most of those went to box breakers. So we had to be very careful for a while. It seems more relaxed now. And although the regulars never really went away, we are seeing them more again now,
and a few new faces too,” explained one London Carphone staffer.
“The problem this year is footfall is down, which means commission is down. It’s difficult to say ‘no’ sometimes. If you can get away with it, most will do it.”
A Vodafone staffer said: “Christmas always brings them out in large numbers. A lot of genuine customers are left disappointed as they take up all the stock. They are coming in every day now, sometimes we say ‘yes’, sometimes we say ‘no’. It just depends on sales for the day. But either way they keep coming back.”
An Orange staffer said: “Box breakers are not stupid, they don’t want us to lose our jobs, and know when and when not to ask.
“If they (box breakers) see a manager who doesn’t allow them to buy, then they won’t come in.
“We know where they get handsets because they tell us; they get handsets from all stores on a daily basis. The demand goes up now, as Christmas approaches.”
Staff in O2 and T-Mobile reported no such problems.