Don't Sell Your Cellphone Until You Read This

Millions of people who wasted no time buying the new iPhone 6s and iPhone6s Plus are trying to figure out what to do with their old cell phones.

While selling a device online for some extra cash is an option, one NBC4 viewer discovered the transaction doesn’t always go smoothly.

Long Beach tech company executive Damian McCann was looking to sell six old iPhones, after purchasing new iPhones for his family.

"I looked online about selling phones, and I found Guzu," McCann told the I-Team.

Guzu, founded in 2011, is one of a growing number of websites that will buy your used cell phones, iPads and even smart watches. After asking a few details about your device, the site generates an instant offer.

"It was $400 [to] $450 for [each] working phone," recalled McCann.

So he followed instructions and shipped the phones to Guzu, expecting what the website promised: that he’d "get paid fast."

"Actually, the check came fairly quickly, so I’m like, 'That’s good,'" McCann said.

But the situation soon went downhill: he said the check for more than a thousand dollars was returned for insufficient funds.

"I end[ed] up being out $12 because I’ve deposited a check with insufficient funds," he said.

McCann emailed customer service and was sent another check, which he said also bounced.

Next, he recalled, Guzu offered to wire money directly to McCann’s bank account, but the wire never arrived.

He’s now been waiting for payment for more than five months.

"At this point they just want me to go away and they’re hoping I will give up," said McCann, who is not the first to complain about Guzu.

The company’s Facebook page contains dozens of messages from angry customers claiming that their checks bounced, or never arrived at all.

It’s a situation that’s not all that unusual, according to Steve McFarland, president and chief executive of the Los Angeles Better Business Bureau.

"We see a lot of promises from these companies, especially the new startups, that are overwhelmed with customer service issues, that don’t perform on their promises," McFarland said.

The I-Team reached out to Guzu and got an email response from Chief Executive Hesam Meshkat.

"We unfortunately encountered multiple check fraud attempts on our bank accounts in the past two months, which caused a domino effect of issues with our consumer check processing and payment fulfillment," Meshkat wrote. See entire statement below

After reaching out to Meshkat several more times for an update on McCann’s payment, the I-Team heard back this week:

"We have a check going out to him… for his total amount," Meshkat wrote.

"These guys, they took my phone, they took my money – so let’s try and stop that," said McCann. "My lesson shouldn’t be a lesson someone else has to learn, basically, the hard way."

To make sure you make the right choice when selling your cell phone online, the BBB suggests the following:

  • Do your research: check online review sites, like bbb.org or Yelp, to see if the company rates well with consumers.
  • Check the company’s Facebook page for complaints.
  • Beware of offers that seem too good to be true: if a company’s offer is dramatically higher than others, it could be a red flag.
  • Save all correspondence and documents, in case you eventually need to file a complaint.

See below for Guzu’s email response in its entirety:

"We unfortunately encountered multiple check fraud attempts on our bank accounts in past 2 months, which caused a domino effect of issues with our consumer check processing and payment fulfillment. We are aware of the number of people that have been affected by either issues with their checks or delays in payment. Currently, we are in the process of paying all customers that have been affected by these issues…and we hope to have everything caught up within the next week or two.

As a startup that has been bootstrapped from the start, it has been a challenging road to deal with such issues that cause such delays/problems with cash flow. Regrettably, this is clearly not the experience we want our customers to have. Up until this circumstance, we have been able to process over 100,000 customers order to date from the time we launched Guzu.com and hope that we will be able to make it up to customers … after their payment has been processed and if they have an interest to do business with us in the future."

-Hesam Meshkat, Founder & CEO of Guzu Inc. [received Sept. 8, 2015]

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