Carphone Warehouse Lifeline Insurance: Total Rubbish

I ordered my iPhone 3G from UK mobile retailer, Carphone Warehouse, if you recall.

During the order I was asked if I’d like some insurance (£12/month). I thought that was pretty steep (12 x 18 months = 216 pounds!) but the chap reckoned it was a good idea (“it’s an expensive device”) and I was in a positive mood in respect to Carphone Warehouse.

I promptly lost my iPhone one Sunday a few weeks after I got it.

No biggie.

I’ve got insurance. I’ve got a ‘lifeline’.

I called o2 and put on the bar immediately.

Now, let’s begin the shit. And let’s be clear, it is 100% total shit.

It is a total, total 100% bollocks process.

You phone up the lifeline team.

They then do their best to wind you up.

There is a REASON I agreed to pay stupid amounts of money per month. The point being, if I *DO* lose my phone, I want it replaced next day.

That’s how it works if you have insurance with Vodafone, right?

The customer services folk get one sent out to you next day. There’s an admin charge — £35 or similar. But the handset arrives next day.

With Carphone’s Lifeline rubbish, they make you jump through hoop after hoop after hoop.

You need a crime number. Even though you’ve lost it. You have to phone the Police and report it lost. Formally.

Only, living in Essex, the Police don’t bother with anything associated with mobile handsets. It took up too much bureaucracy. So you can’t get a crime number.

Insert lots of bollocking around with the Carphone Lifeline team.

“You need a crime number.”

“No I don’t.”

“Yes you do. Call us back when you have it.”

“Essex Police don’t issue crime numbers.”

“Oh. Oh yeah..”

Total bollocks.

Eventually I walked into a Carphone Warehouse and did the insurance request manually.

I expected to be able to walk out with a new iPhone 3G a few minutes afterwards.

Only, my ‘claim’ was ‘referred’.

I phoned up the next day. No news.

‘We’ll notify you as to your claim status in due course, in writing, Sir.’

Claim status? I lost it. I LOST the phone. Send me a new one. That’s what I’m paying for.

There is no claim status. There shouldn’t be.

What’s the sodding point in paying 12 quid A MONTH if, when you lose your phone, they have to ‘think’ about it and make an ‘estimation’?

I got the notification.


You should see the utter drivel Carphone’s Insurance people are shipping out to customers these days.

The letter says words to the effect of ‘your claim has been unsuccessful’.

The intent behind it? Please flock off. Flock off and give us your money.

Wait ’til you see the letter. It is SHOCKINGLY bad form.


The o2 customer services chap laughed at me when I told him I was paying £12 a month for insurance, explaining it’s about £6 with them. Gahh.

I can’t believe Mr Dustone and the Carphone Warehouse lot can look anyone in the face with this kind of behaviour.

They have to make money. I don’t begrudge them that. They’re in business to make cash.

But the policy of writing back to me and telling me to flock off and see their terms and conditions… they’re hoping I just resign myself to not bothering to follow up.

Obviously I can continue discussions with them. I can write letters. I can ask them to reconsider. After 5 or 6 letters and the obligatory ‘Dear Mr Dunstone’ bollocks, I’m sure I could set them straight.

But can I be bothered?

No. It’s an inefficient use of my time and resources to arse about with their insurance provider.

However I can bring Mobile Industry Review’s considerable guns to bear to suggest that no one else suffers.

So today begins the Carphone Warehouse Lifeline Insurance Is Useless campaign.

I’m still working out exactly how I will manifest this.

1. I’m off to buy a new iPhone from o2.
2. I’m going to cancel my Lifeline insurance. What a piece of shit that is.
3. I’d appreciate your suggestions on how to manifest a campaign against the lifeline insurance. A banner ad? Maybe a news spot in the MIR Show?

Here’s the letter:

Pay close attention to the second paragraph:

According to your claim, you reported the incident to your service provider on 24 August 2008. However when I contacted them, I was told they were notified of the incident on 18th August 2008.

Please refer to your policy wording for specific information.

You what? That’s all the explanation I get, is it?

This is total rubbish.

I did some thinking and I had a look at the calendar. I think I know what’s gone wrong — the lady who processed my claim at Carphone Warehouse has put in the wrong date — leading to the inconsistency.

But if I phone up now and start writing letters, you know what they’ll do. Deny, deny, deny.

My mistake.

My mistake doing business with Carphone Warehouse.

By Ewan

Ewan is Founder and Editor of Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.

46 replies on “Carphone Warehouse Lifeline Insurance: Total Rubbish”

I tend to think mobile phone insurance in general is rubbish. At least on this side of the pond, I have yet to see a single “acceptable” experience.

From my point of view, if I lose a handset–and I have yet to do so–I have a drawerful of replacements.

If I am not mistaken, usually insurance firms have masses of people who work to try and reject claims. In this case it was for a mobile phone, however more worryingly, they have the same for medical treatment in the US!

Anyway back to the phone. I would lodge the appeal / complaint and try to at least get some service that you paid for. If anything, you can use it as a feature on the site to look at another aspect of the mobile phone industry…

a new weekly segment for the MIR show in which we covertly film inside a CPW store. Stride straight over to the business solutions desk, go through all the motions of signing up for brand new top of the range phones for all 20 of the “staff” on a massive tariff with all the insrance and extras and just at the last minute… right when the salesman has pretty much spent his commission in his head…. “actually… nevermind” and walk out.

Or we could just go to their head office with our camera and your letter, Mark Thomas style!

Give it the full treatment. Post every crap, wriggling excuse they send you on here as a running feature. It'll build up an archived, indexed body of evidence warning people about how they operate and it'll amuse the rest of us no end (not to mention reminding us not to do business with them). I have a particular axe to grind with CPW because they sent the debt collectors after my pensioner parents for a debt that didn't exist (at least not until they got 'slammed' by a CPW salesman). Only got sorted when I wielded by my national newspaper contacts at their press office. This crap has gone on too long. Go on, give 'em hell!

Did the CPW salesman state that the insurance would cover you if you lost the handset? If so how about claiming the insurance was mis-sold just like all those PPI (Payment Protection Insurance) policies that people are now claiming back.

Also, check the small print of your home contents insurance policy. A lot now cover personal possessions outside of the house such as laptops, phones, etc.

That is terrible!

The Carphone Warehouse have never done anything to overtly impress me; but that is just stupid.

I'm not a good campaign thinker (I usually just send letters, and e-mails of complaint) – but we all know where that gets us!

I suggest something that'll annoy them… Like the “Sony News” did with Sony.


I'm going to do something odd: I am going to defend CPW. Actually I am going to defend Mr. Dunstone. Years ago I ahd the misfortune to be involved in a car accident. I went into the side of a car. The man in the car behind me rushed over and gave me his details as a witness explaining that he'd recently been shafted (my word not his) by the insurers in a similar situation recently. I said I'd hope not to have to use it Well guess what the other party disputed the facts and we looked set for a long drawn out fight which I had no hope of winning ecept for that wtness so I duly wrote to him and hey presto within a month I was paid. That man was of course Mr. Dunstone.

So come on everyone he's human, he's been there and he's done the decent thing in the past where insurers are concerned, I'm sure he can be persuaded again!

This post is linked from the top of the site at the moment and it's one of
the highest read this month. That's the way ahead for me. I don't see why
I should have to complain. It doesn't-do-what-it-says-on-the-tin. I have a
choice to give them another 250 quid (or whatever) for the insurance this
year, or buy a new iPhone 3G from o2. I'll do the latter.

2008/9/23 Disqus <>

Now that's an interesting question: should we complain? I think the answer, in general is yes. In fact we Brits don't do it enough and this could be why we get such crap customer service in general in this country. I've been in business for longer than I care to think about and every now and then we make a mistake (cos we're human) and someone complains. We then go as far as we can to rectify the situation and invariably we have a happy client. Other times I've had a client up and leave without warning and when I've enquired they've been unhappy about something, something I could have fixed but now it's too late.

Now just to undermine that, she-who-keeps-the-chequebook, has pretty much reached a similar decision for not wildly dissimilar reasons (we’ve had our run in with CPW too), so I guess I should really practice what I preach…

They haven't done something wrong Darryl. It's their chosen business
practice. They've chosen to — by default — turn down my claim. A claim,
that had I made with Vodafone, would have been immediately accepted, I'd
have had to pay a one-time charge and I'd have a new handset sent out the
next day. The fact the letter doesn't even make sense demonstrates it's
simply a standard business practice. So in this case I don't think it's
about writing-a-letter-to-Mr-Dunstone, I think it's about me recognising
that it was a huge, huge mistake to rely on them. Huge. And I should eat
the loss myself.

What's more I feel I should make other people aware that their service is
definitely not what it says on the tin.

2008/9/23 Disqus <>

Carphone Warehouse tried hard to convince me that I need insurance for my spanking new iPhone (just imagine if you lose it/it gets stolen/it’s such an expensive phone and so on). But then I started to calculate.

If insurance is £144 quid a year that means, assuming the unit costs around £600, I would have to have roughly a one in four chance that I lose my phone or have it stolen, destroyed, whatever.

Now I know people who lose their phones on a regular basis. Or they have it stolen. Or they drop them in the Thames. Never happened to me.

Insurance is about risk. My risk of losing a phone is very small (I’ve had a couple of phones in my lifetime, didn’t lose a single one). So with a mobile phone insurance I basically finance all the replacements of people who are not capable of watching for their stuff (no offense, Ewan).

So if you’re good at taking care of your gadgets and you don’t want to subsidise the iPhones of people forgetting their phone at the pub, a mobile phone insurance just isn’t the right thing for you.

I have no love lost for CPW, they have been a competitor to me, for over 10 years now. BUT!!!! Because of the dates your claim looks fraudulent. What else would you expect them to do???

My missus, just bought an iPhone from CPW in Norwich last week and they tried to sell her insurance. She bought from CPW because the O2 shop in Norwich had one salesman scrapping with a customer about the crap coverage of O2 and a line out the door, CPW had five salespeople, She was all for it and I said no. Reason being that you can guarantee that any insurance sold in retail premises is a complete rip off and not worth the paper it is written on. CPW, Currys, PC World, all the same rip off theft sold by salespeople who are just too embarrassed to argue when you laugh at the idea. Typically she gave me a hard time about being a tight old Scotsman, this proves I was 100% right.

BTW the O2 customer was right O2 coverage is crap.




I take your point, but remember a Network Operators insurance has an entirely different agenda than a retailers.

Having been a Retail Manager for 8 or 9 years I have had to push the sale of Coverplan and Fonesure. My honest opinion to anyone is take the Networks cover. It's about keeping you using the device to maintain your ARPU. The retailer is about profit and more profit and creating a sticky customer and bringing you back to the store. On top of that definitely research your standard home contents policy as a general insurance will often be the best option.

By the way I'm not an insider I sell Business Leads to B2B Dealers 🙂

My thoughts on your CPW claim is more they go through a process to protect themselves (in order to make MORE money) from fraud. They do this by verbally hearing your plight, and then getting it in writing. They then compare the two and look to escape the claim (OMG! an Insurance Company trying not to pay out what a revelation). Your claim failed because it had discrepancies and failed to meet the T&C's to be a viable claim. I feel that you need to take some ownership of your actions. We have choices in life…… if you choose not to read the T&C's before making a claim then that is YOUR choice. BUT equally if your claim is rejected because you have not reported it within the correct timescale then that is nobody elses fault. THAT IS INSURANCE! That's the nature of the beast…. it's not a charitable organisation trying to help you out in your hour of need, none of them are! That is just Marketing and PR to make you subscribe to their service. There job involves taking as many premiums as they can and paying out as little as they can!

Phew I feel better now, sorry I often take the devils advocate roll… LOL Not that CPW is much of an under dog.

Anyway I hope you see my point in amongst all of this, I'm a man of many words 😛


I feel for your situation, and completely disagree with the way insurance is promoted & handled by all operators. However I do think its a good idea – IF you know how to play the game. The reason that they have 'tricky' policies is to cut down and discourage the on the number of false claims. This however penalises the innocent who feel most hard done by when paying the exorbitant insurance fees for a 'no fuss' solution when the worse happens – and you just want what you were sold – insurance to replace your phone.

So, here is the way I play the game, and have been doing with great success. Granted my situation and circumstances are probably different to most but hopefully you can garner something from the following and 'shape' your situation to benefit you. My belief is that insurance for phones is the best value insurance there is and (apart from the legal obligation of insuring a vehicle etc) the ONLY insurance worth paying for. Any other is a waste of money.

I am with Orange. Do not deal with 3rd party providers – phones 4 u, CPW etc – how can they possibly give you a better deal than going to source – it may look better but that will be in the way in which the deal is constructed. They take care of the deal structure – I constantly try to improve my 'deal' by speaking to them 3 or 4 times a year. This call I do not relish as it means jumping through the hoops and getting my negotiating head on. It also results in my renewing my contract each time, which means tying me into a new 12 or now 18 month contract. Which is OK, if the deals right.

With that deal there are things that orange and all operators can discount heavily. One is insurance which is a £5 a month value and I get this for free.

I also receive a £5 loyalty reward from a previous mistake with 'free' insurance that I took umbrage to, spotted and kicked off about. Another point NEVER go back to a worse deal.

Always when looking to improve your call charges/package compare them against the best market out there. The 3 network offers the cheapest call plans so I use this to screw orange down. I now get 1000 minutes for £35. This is a £45 deal with a £10 discount. Might be called Dolphin, not sure.

Only the disconnections team can do the deal that you need to do. They are also called migration – its much cheaper for an operator to retain you than buy you afresh.

I get unlimited texts. Quite common now, and a very cheap sweetener to give away.

I get a 'free photo 30' which is 30 free photo messages. This is a monthly thing so I usually call to say can you extend if I can remember.

I get a 'lucky numbers' thing that puts my nominated most called numbers into a roster that gives benefits. I can add a number every 3 months I think. I have just missed the door on this so I only have 3 numbers. When I call again I'll try and get it reinstated.

I get unlimited off peak data so I can use my laptop. Although when I was 'sold' this aspect I wasn't told it was off peak – what use is that! so I will again be taking umbrage and demand some form of 'compensation'.
I also get free 'trail' video calls. Never use it, dont have time and its shit.

Finally. If you have a claim with insurance. STOP and think about the circumstances. All phone co's now need losses, thefts etc etc reporting within 24 hours. Phone co's do not handle these themselves – they are farmed out – IF the criteria is met. So, make sure your phone is lost – not misplaced. You may need to get a crime number so only report it when you certain and are going to be able to go into your police shop and get one. Think carefully about knee jerking to get your phone barred. Say it was taken out of your bag or pocket while on a train or bus. Dont say it was lost through negligence.

If you want a new phone cause yours is scratched and because I dont agree with adding to crime figures I use a different method to get a new phone but other operators may have different criteria. Using orange you need to basically report a fault, that when an operator at orange walks through the 'system diagnosis' they get a 'faulty handset' indicator on the system. The best one of these (faulty handset – return to base) currently is a bluetooth connectivity problem. So call to say you cannot get a connection between your pc and phone. Never let me down yet.

Always get a more expensive phone upgrade if you can and flog it brand spanking new. Just got a nokia arte and its on ebay soon. Price from nokia? £600? Its the dearest phone they do and I got it upgraded at orange for £100. Did my best to negate this but I was really out on a limb due to the other bonuses!

I'm really happy with my deal and you should be too. take a look at for the latest on different deals etc.

All the best.


Oh dear Ewan, such an angry person. You purchased a policy, didn't read the terms and conditions and are now angry at the company. While I see reason in your letter for you to be mildly annoyed, that's all really. And from experience I can tell you that a single email/letter to appeal this decision would resolve it. I love how you have said that you can't be bothered appealing this because of the time it would take you, but that you are now launching a hate campaign on this company, which sounds like a lot more effort!

I certainly didn't read the terms and conditions Jack. I thought it would
work just the way it does with Vodafone — or any other operator. But as
one smart cookie pointed out, there's a massive difference between the
business models of Carphone Warehouse (a retailer, a box-shifter, interested
in single-point transactions) and a mobile operator (critically dependent on
recurring revenue). Vodafone, for example, needs my business. Carphone

The mistake is wholly mine. And how frustrating it was — for a little
while. As for a hate campaign — I'd characterise it as learning for the
benefit of any readers wondering whether to get an insurance policy from an
operator from a retailer.

All is good. Lesson learnt, bit time. We move on!

2008/10/6 Disqus <>

I'm having no end of problems with carphone warehouse, they have somehow managed to pass on all my personal details (name, address, phone make and model etc etc etc) to a, in their words fraudulent company who are trying to rip me off buy selling me phone insurance.
Carphone Warehouse claim they did not leak my details, and that using the electoral role and a series of lucky guesses the fraudulent company have all my details correct.
Carphone Warehouse are not interested in my complaint and refuse to apologise to me.

Not great with bundled insurance, close friend who has a Natwest Advantage Premier current account, which includes mobile phone insurance was informed by them that they

' .. consider the iphone main use to be an ipod'

So an iPhone is not covered by their mobile phone insurance, and has to be covered as an electronic gadget.

Ewan the exact same thing happened to me! I'm trying to claim back money for £100 of unauthorised calls but they told me i reported the dates as wrong, which they clearly weren't. I've appealed, but they're still refusing to pay up. My advice to everyone is that they NEVER USE LIFELINE INSURANCE. THEY'RE JUST THIEVES IN SUITS.

I, too, have suffered at the hands of Carphone Warehouse and “Lifeline”…Ha! what a bloody joke that is! This whole sorry business has taken years off my life! In a nutshell, I foolishly signed a ridiculous contract for a phone for my 11 year old son in May last year, the handset being on the recommendation of the Trafford Carphone Warehouse salesman. He offered insurance which I took, as my son is not the most organised boy on the planet. He assured me that the phone would be covered for “every eventuality…theft loss, fire, damage etc” I happily trotted off, contract and insurance policy in hand. Fast forward to mid January when a sheepish child approached me with the news that he had lost his phone. He was sure he had last seen it in the house. After a severe roasting I started the hellish experience of claiming on the insurance. After hours of stupid pointless phone calls to stupid incompetent call centre staff it became obvious that I had to report the loss to the police before the ignoramuses would do anything. I bothered my police (how much must that cost the tax payer??) got a “crime” reference (even though there had been no crime ) and waited for my new phone. What a joke! I too got a knock back letter. I hadn't reported the loss within 24 hours!!! (if I reported everything my three boys lose within 24 hours I would have the insurance company on speeddial!) The next paragraph informed me that I wasn't insured for loss. I went straight back to the Carphone Warehouse to basically be told to b****r off. I couldn't describe the man who served me (was he asian or white was one of the questions) and he had logged in under the manager's name so could not be identified through my receipt. After spending more on phone calls than a new mobile would have cost trying to get this appalling travesty rectified I was today told to b***er off by the customer “support” department. Apparently I should have read the booklet. Oh should I? Did it say in the booklet that Carephone Warehouse staff are lying cheating idiots who are only after a quick insurance commission? How the hell was I supposed to know that there were different policies? I am so angry…I feel so frustrated that people can get away with this sort of behaviour and I am told its my word against theirs? There is so much more to moan about having spoken to so many stupid stupid thick ignorant spineless useless morons at the various Carphone Warehouse call centres and likewise at the “insurance” company. I really really hope that I read one day that Carphone Warehouse has gone into administration. Hopefully with their disgusting attitude people will vote with their feet……grrrrrrrrrrr!!!

I totally agree. i didn't even know i had agreed to an insurance until carphone warehouse started taking out payments. phoned up carphone warehouse then had to phone lifeline (who also wound me up) apparently it was an 'automatic add on' and was told that it would have said when i ordered phone.(I ordered my phone on line at the sony erikson eshop), Phone sony erikson up and asked where it would have told me and he eventually agreed that it didn't and he was going to inform his line mgr and said to phone back if i didn't get sorted. Lifeline are supposed to be cancelling policy and refunding payment they illegally took from my account. Don't know how cpw got my bank details as i was unaware that i was dealing with them until i received my phone.Never received any policy, or notification of when they were taking the money out. Sure thats not legal.!!!! Have to wait and see what happens. Won't let it drop though.

I took out a contract phone with Carphone Warehouse at the end of last year – the phone was for my 18 year old son to use. I too was persuaded to take out a Lifeline insurance policy. In March of this year my son was mugged and his phone was stolen, after spending ages filling in the claim form and over a week's wait, we received a replacement phone the same model as the one my son had had stolen – a Sony Ericsson W9101. Last week my son was arrested for a graffiti offence in Brixton (yes, I know he's a prat) but during the police search and questionning his replacement CW phone was examined. It was registered as belonging to someone else. The police said it was a reconditioned phone. Funnily enough, I don't think the Lifeline insurance policy says anything about their replacement phones being RECONDITIONED!

Lifeline Insurance are aload of crap…Do Not take out any insurance with this Company!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Not sure you remember me from uni, we were on the same course. I was also mis-sold the cpw insurance when I got my N96 a year ago. I was told I could cancel my 18 phone contract after 9 months allowing me to upgrade earlier than the network would allow. I tried to then cancel the contract and was told that I would have to relinquish my phone and my mobile number (which I've had for 15 years) None of these points were mentioned at the point of sale. I was actually told, when I queried the cost of the insurance that I could negate the cost against the second-hand value of the handset. As you can imagine I have made a formal complaint with the insurance underwriter and cancelled the insuranc and will be forwarding the complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Totally applaude your efforts to try and get a fair deal, I think a complaint to Ofcom wouldn't go astray.


Not sure you remember me from uni, we were on the same course. I was also mis-sold the cpw insurance when I got my N96 a year ago. I was told I could cancel my 18 phone contract after 9 months allowing me to upgrade earlier than the network would allow. I tried to then cancel the contract and was told that I would have to relinquish my phone and my mobile number (which I've had for 15 years) None of these points were mentioned at the point of sale. I was actually told, when I queried the cost of the insurance that I could negate the cost against the second-hand value of the handset. As you can imagine I have made a formal complaint with the insurance underwriter and cancelled the insuranc and will be forwarding the complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Totally applaude your efforts to try and get a fair deal, I think a complaint to Ofcom wouldn't go astray.

For years I've been trying to lose weight. I was on every diet possible and I went to all kinds of gyms and fitness clubs and I did lose weight. But as soon as I did I stopped the diet and started stuffing my face again. I realized that in order to lose weight I need determination not professional help. I found a and stuck to it. I lost 25 pounds and I am determined to continue my diet and exercise for the rest of my life.

you can call your bank and reclaim the money you paid in insurance premium to lifeline. thats what i did.

I could not agree more with this post about lifeline! It's actually the insurance company who are the joke! They have been charging me for three phones when I was told my insurance would be cancelled. The woman on the phone had the most disgusting attitude again and again referring to her policies and trying to avoid any sort of responsibility almost making me out to be an idiot. Excuse my language but she was an absolute bitch. DO NOT use this company, there are many other insurance companies out there which i'm sure are much better. This is a massive amount of money I have lost out on and it is extremely frustrating.

Carphone warehouse cowboys totally unprofesional and possibly fraudlantly accepting monies for a contract which they had no intention of honouring.

I have the same problem with them, having paid my insurance regularily on the due date for many years.

My insurance policy clearly states ” in the event that they (Carphone warehouse) are unable to replace the same model which I can be obtain elswhere, then I am at liberty to purchase that item from another supplier and they will fully refund the cost to me”.

I recently damaged my insured mobile phone and attempted to make a claim at my local carphone warehouse shop, and knowing the problems with carphone warehouse I took my policy document along with me in order to make it easy for them to identify that my mobile was covered by their insurance. however, this is not what happened having spent over one and a half hours with incompetant denying that the phone was covered in spite of the insurance being fully in force.

I have just been refered to complaints department still with the same result and still with a broken phone.

I have more to write and will add further as time permits

and then to start inventing contract terms about which they had clearly no knowledge incompetant staff making up what staff trying to get out of the contr my claim Having spent over one and a half hours in the shop trying to get them to honour the contract

@and having damaged my phone (which it is covered for) they are unable torepair it, and have refused me a replacement phone or

Fortunately, the comparison of the offer website and Internet usage, found that the insurance and buy only takes a few minutes and at the end of the year, you do not, you’ve got the best deal possible doubt. Never leave your home, you can buy car insurance.

This is nice post. Now mostly people prefer to take a insurance services for new product. Here give a Car phone Warehouse insurance services. I got a well concept for getting a affordable insurance in different kind of product.

Here give a good post. Forward, these are just some of your worship, the port side in the deaths of a lot of costs. Presided over the activities allowance may be advised that they are above all financial, depends on what you accept insurance in bulk, or activities coat of arms awning ruled generate.

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