Have you ever bought a phone from Simply Electronics?

Screenshot 2014-07-07 23.18.51

After my post yesterday about my wife selecting an Android phone, I decided to have a look at the most efficient way of buying an HTC One M8 online. I checked out Google Shopping to see what the cheapest rate was with them. I never tend to have a brilliant experience with Google Shopping but it’s usually semi helpful to at least get the rough market price.

The absolute cheapest I could find was from a company called Simply Electronics. Their price was £378.95 including free delivery.

This is a substantial discount on the HTC website (£549 — fulfilled via Expansys, who interestingly, will charge you just £469 from their own website). Amazon lists the HTC One M8 at a reasonably competitive £519. Very.co.uk, my personal choice for consumer buying hardware thanks to their ‘take 3′ buy-now-pay-later service offering, lists the M8 at a rather disappointing £579.

Back, then, to Simply Electronics. How can they possibly be retailing a phone at £141 cheaper than 800lb Gorilla, Amazon? Indeed the Simply Electronics price is actually cheaper than a factory reconditioned device for sale on Amazon at £389!

I looked around for some weasel words on the Simply Electronics website, wondering if I’d added a refurbished device to my shopping basked. Apparently not.

I then did some cursory research and ended up on this MoneySavingExpert thread filled with lots of commentary. Some posters (dating back from 2012) reckon the company is based in Hong Kong. I can only presume that this the HTC they’d be sending would be a Hong Kong, Chinese or similar derivative probably without a standard UK plug and so on.

Who knows?

Quite a lot of posters said that they did eventually receive their products but only after long delays (i.e. 10 or 11 days). That’s not actually too long. Just, in today’s next-day (or, same day!) world that I’m used to with the likes of Amazon or Very, that’s almost a lifetime.

Still. £141 saved compared to Amazon if you apparently wait for an unspecified amount of time and are happy to opt for a (presumed) non-UK spec device.

My preference — nay, my requirement — is a UK device for testing and evaluation. If you’ve used Simply Electronics I’d welcome your perspective. Would you recommend them to the Mobile Industry Review audience?

Right now I’m probably going to give the business to Expansys.

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  • Joseph Fallon

    There may be warranty issues with a non-EU handset.

  • http://www.mobileindustryreview.com Ewan

    Yeah you’re right that’s probably one of the key issues to consider.

  • Joseph Fallon

    One for the major US importers of foreign sourced handsets offers its own “equivalent to OEM” warranty service – thought that was a great idea.

  • http://www.mobileindustryreview.com Ewan

    Got a link for us Joseph?

  • Joseph Fallon

    Ah nuts, mustn’t have been paying close enough attention to the podcast. It seems to be an insurance product.


  • http://www.mobileindustryreview.com Ewan

    Awwwh! ;)

  • https://twitter.com/DominicTravers DominicTravers

    I once made the mistake of ordering a camera from Simply Electronics in 2011. They are part of the new wave of shonky online retailers that don’t actually carry any stock of anything. When you place an order, they place an order with a wholesaler somewhere in the world that enables them to offer the discounted price. Then you’ll have to wait a long and arbitrary amount of time until they receive the item to fulfil the order. When I realised they couldn’t deliver in a reasonable time frame, I had to go through lengthy phone calls with an offshore call centre to cancel and get a refund.. AVOID.

  • http://www.mobileindustryreview.com Ewan

    Ah thank you for the clarity Dominic!

  • http://www.rjlawson.com ric

    They are based in HK, the goods come from there so if you get charged for Import Duty you’re not really going to save anything. What about somewhere like CEX – £420 for a A condition unlocked device? You’ve probably got enough old devices in a drawer to trade in against one ;-)

  • http://www.robertwigley.com/ Robert Wigley

    I ordered a yellow Lumia 1520 from them at the end of last year as a Christmas present for my daughter (who desperately wanted the yellow model, which was not available elsewhere at the time). I can confirm, like others, that this is a ‘Just In Time’ company based in Hong Kong, so how long you wait will depend on how long it takes them to source the product and then ship it to you. You may be lucky and get it in a couple of days, like I did, or it may take a few weeks, however it will arrive. Note that as it is coming from overseas (outside the EU) you will be charged Import Duty, despite the fact that their website FAQ says that this is covered in the shipping costs. Contacting them via email about this after receiving the goods yielded no response. How much you save will depend on what you are ordering. I saved a packet as this was only available in yellow elsewhere at the time for silly money and there was no possibility of waiting for it to arrive via regular channels in order to get it in time for Christmas.

    The model was a Hong Kong variant, along with Hong Kong firmware and Chinese language support, rather than a generic European or Global variant (possibly because it was only available in yellow in few markets at the time), so I had to change the settings to UK English before it was used (not too much of a problem). I believe Hong Kong, being a British colony at one time, have the same 3-pin UK plugs (if memory serves correctly). Anyway, it came with a standard UK plug adapter (and a 3-pin UK to 2-pin European adapter). I checked with Nokia Care UK and they do not offer warranty cover for products purchased outside they EU. This is probably the biggest issue I have, should something go wrong with it and I be unable to claim on it’s insurance cover. I suspect that most other manufacturers will be the same regarding warranty cover for non-EU imported goods (not that I agree with this policy at all in an increasingly globalised world).

  • http://www.mobileindustryreview.com Ewan

    I’ve actually been rather good about getting my devices recycled Ric so this is a new purchase. You’re right, it doesn’t need to be new. I’ll have a look at some reconditioned ones for me (as I need to buy some new ones). I wanted Hetty to have a ‘new’ experience with Android so I’m willing to pay for that. But for me, yeah… doesn’t need to be new.

  • http://wirelessworker.net Ben Smith

    Ewan: Checkout Steve Litchfield’s PSC forum for trustworthy people selling 2nd hand. Here’s an M8: http://www.pscforum.co.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=3091

  • http://www.mobileindustryreview.com Ewan

    I’ve actually been rather good about getting my devices recycled Ric so this is a new purchase!

  • Chorotega

    Hi Ewan, I got a Nokia 1520 for £299 from them. Hong Kong spec, but sim unlocked. Customer service is virtually non-existent, they charged me twice and it took a week to get a refund. The phone took a month to arrive. But, I did not have to pay Import Duty and Expansys are currently offering it for £459 so it was worth the hassle to save £159!

  • http://www.mobileindustryreview.com Ewan

    Geez that is SOME discount Chorotega! Very impressive… if you can put up with the delays and double-billing. Interesting!

  • Dawn Pitts

    My advice – to avoid this company like the plague!
    I purchased a Sony phone from them in March – and it went wrong within weeks. After returning it, I waited three months for its return. It still didn’t work – and they are failing to sort it out!
    I am just getting the odd email saying that they will be in touch – and then nothing!
    Buying secondhand from ebay is less risky…

  • Miguelacho

    Hi there, I should have done more research about the shop before buying from this company, although I have to admit that I think I’m lucky. I bought a new mobile handset (back in Nov 2014) which I think is brand new and fully operative, with all parts inside and accessories, however it seems a bit fishy, again I feel lucky and I’m happy as my phone is a jewel (LG G3), hopefully I will be able to tell the same in 1 year time. So I got the package delivered, and my findings are:
    1st of all it was my option to risk to buy from this site/guys and I always felt like I was risking £300 plus, so I felt I was betting against all odds
    1.- The guarantee seal was broken (I should have stopped and request refund, but what the hell, keep going) inside the box all seems to be OK, the handset and every component was still covered from fabric, all the plastic peelings on the handset looked like the item just came out of the oven), all looked and it is OK and again right from manufacturer. The only wrong thing was that the power adapter as it is an European, but it did not surprise me as this is not big deal to me. They included an universal power adapter, which is quiet neat. so not big deal.
    2.- The phone works fine, it connects to my mobile network, internet, wireless networks at home/work. However It does not connect to the 4G band which is a big low. the handset should be able to do that, but it does not give me the option. So I did more investigation and ultimately I was suggested to upgrade the Android O/S on the phone to the latest version available, which I did helped by XDA developer we site, this resolved the 4G connectivity issue and completed the entire cycle. Again I feel lucky!
    3.- I checked many websites for support and to make sure the handset is legit and not second hand or stolen from another country. All the test outcomes are positive, the item is brand new, does not belong to any black list, however the item is destined to be sold into the Asian market, Singapore most probably, as the footprint of the O/S tells that has an Asian ROM (to Singapore market)

    Things could go wrong at any point and to be honest the simply electronics website does not give any confidence for you to buy from them, and I would not expect any refund nor a positive outcome should I resolve to return the item the same day I got it delivered. It was all about risk, and I learned my lesson, I will not buy from them again! but I’m enjoying a great piece of technology. Or probably I will. Good luck!!!

  • Nick Fourbanks

    i am still waiting on a phone 4 weeks on and am being thanked for my Order Backlog
    Apologies for the delay. We are working diligently to ship your order as soon as possible. Thank you for your patience.
    I’m not at all certain how this company operates out of Hong Kong but i wont use it again to be on the safe side.
    On a positive note Hong Kong should be a reliable trading country like japan but we will have to wait and see

  • Teresa Paris

    Avoid them like the plague. I did not know this was a hong Kong company the web site appears to be uk based.
    I ordered a samsung note 4 on the 1 December and it arrived on the 12th December 2014. I use the ee network and at home I have to use a ee booser, my note 4 would not work with the booster. On taking my note 4 to a local Samsung service center in Bournemouth I was told the the phone is a south African model and should never and been imported to the uk. Further more because it is not ment for the uk market there is no warranty cover on this phone.
    I have asked for a refund and I am still waiting for a reply

  • Roxanne

    I ordered a big jam boom box £180 .. So about average price for it to be honest. Anyway it came with a plug for a different country, not UK. So I thought, ok that’s annoying but assumed they may all come with that plug.. Anyway it was faulty and I’ve been emailing them for two weeks. It takes them days to reply, completely avoiding talking about the refund only talking about collection. They went 4 days with no reply to my email so I phoned their customer service to which their only advise was “try emailing again”
    They were supposed to send me some documents that were essential for the return otherwise the courier would not pick it up.. Three days and two emails later, no documents. They just keep saying “I’ve forwarded it to the appropriate department”
    The courier phoned me asking if I have the documents and sounded very unspurised when I said no and even told me how much bad feed back they get and that I should wait for my refund before I send the item back.
    I have now sent a very firm email saying if they don’t refund my money in the next seven days I will go to trading standards. All it has been is weeks of emails with out getting any closer to sorting the problem. I am concerned now that they will fob me off and I will be £200 down with an item that doesn’t work.

  • PSL

    Damn – I ordered a Samsung S4Mini last Saturday…. after searching the net, this company kept turning up on my UK based searches……. I even phoned their customer service and spoke to a non-UK person but it didn’t made me read any reviews…….. damn damn damn…….. My phone is now in the queue to be dispatched. I have emailed them to cancel the order but I suspect they will ignore it reading the other review. I not really want to get something not really legal. Going to phone my bank’s fraud department tomorrow morning and hopefully they can stop the payment – then I’m sure the phone will not be posted.

  • Miles

    Site claims despatch in 2-3 days, full payment taken on 11th Feb.
    Ordered two phones, but almost immediately cancelled one order.

    Almost three weeks later, no sign of phone or refund.

    Site appears to be a UK company, but all calls are routed to call centre in Phillipines. Have made several calls to the 0844 number, call centre staff promise to solve issues, but nothing happens.

    Email from Simply Electronics claimed that phone would be delivered today, 2nd March, but call to DPD Couriers confirms that they have not yet received the package.


  • PSL

    I first phoned customer service and then emailed them (through customer service) to cancel order. They initially offered me a 2.5% discount for the inconvenience that the order was delayed. I declined. I received my refund within a week. Think I might have been lucky reading the other reviews. I thought I had lost my money for good.

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