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CEX Mobile Phone

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Hello everyone. 

I am looking for some advice regarding a situation that has came up recently. 

Around 3 months ago I gave my brother a loan of a mobile phone I had due to his being faulty and him unable to afford a new one at the time. This mobile was the phone I used in my small business, but due to covid work has been lacking and I wasn’t using it so I decided to let my brother use it for a short time and I would use my personal phone for work. The phone is on contract with Vodafone

Sadly 3 weeks ago I found my brother passed away at his home. Due to my brother being so young and his death being sudden there has been a police involvement. I’ve been dealing with my brothers affairs over the past week and quickly noticed the mobile phone I had loaned to him wasn’t around. After making some enquiries with people I quickly found out my brother had actually sold the mobile phone to a CEX store for £393 around a month before his passing. Straight away I contacted Vodafone and had the phone blocked.

I immediately went to the CEX store who confirmed they had purchased the phone. I gave them my proof of ownership etc to confirm I am the owner of the phone. After a short discussion and me telling the manager that I am the owner of the phone and would like it returned to me the manager told me I would have to contact the police for it to be resolved. They said the only way they would hand over the mobile would be if the police came in and requested it. I thought that was fine and I contacted the police. I spoke with the officer who was looking into my brothers death who informed me that the case is a civil matter and because my brother had passed away the police would be unable to pursue any criminal proceedings. 

At this point I began communicating with CEX via there customer service at head office. They initially seemed helpful and when I told them the police will not begin any proceedings they were happy with this and were keen to resolve with me. They said I would be called by a member of management to resolve. One of the companies operations managers contacted me the next day. To cut a long story short they said they would return the phone to me if I purchased it at the amount they gave my brother for the phone (£393). I politely refused stating I was the legal owner of the phone, my brother had no right to sell the device, the phone was under contract in my name and I would like it returned immediately. He said he would speak further with his upper management and would get back to me. 

A few days had passed without anyone contacting me. I have now received an email from CEX stating again that the only way they will return the phone is if the police investigate. They said they have made there own enquiries and that my brother being dead is irrelevant (their words) and the police will still investigate. 

I am now at a loss in what to do. The phone is a high end device and I still have around 14 months left on the contract at nearly £70 per month. Can anyone tell me if I would have any chance of success going to court about this? The phone is blocked and currently just an expensive paperweight to CEX. I have no idea why my brother sold the phone and sadly I will never find out. Things are very difficult at the moment as it is as I’m grieving my brother but my head is all over the place about what to think and do. 


Thanks in advance 



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Sorry, but I agree with CEX on this occasion. Appreciate you may find this upsetting, but this is my honest opinion.


You gave the phone to your Brother and your Brother obviously thought he could sell the phone.


You say it was a loan, but do you have any proof such as a loan agreement signed by your Brother, where it stated that the phone remained your property and he had to give the phone back to you on request.  Of course very few people in a family situation would formalise a loan arrangement.


I think the offer for you to buy the phone back at the amount CEX paid your Brother is a reasonable offer.  CEX bought the phone in good faith and should not face a financial loss.

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I'm afraid that I take a slightly different view. Although this will add to your grief and distress, if you make an allegation of theft to the police and eventually persuade them to carry out an investigation and give you a crime reference number then you should have some joy if it is actually considered to be a stolen item.

Of course there are a number of difficulties here. First of all you will make things far more complicated for everybody else who is grieving because I imagine that you are not the only one and so therefore you may incur some wrath and resentment from others who decide that you are simply attacking a man when he's not around to defend himself.
It will damage your brother's reputation. And finally – and maybe the most difficult – is putting sufficient pressure on the police to consider that it is a legitimate crime report and to give you the crime reference number that you need.

If you can get it to be treated as a stolen item by the police then the ownership of the phone remains with you and you should then eventually be able to recover it – but don't imagine it will be easy.

CEX could then try to sue your brother's estate if there is any money there and of course if CEX can be bothered – which they probably can't.

Alternatively, you could put in a claim against your brother's estate – once again if there is any money there.

If you want to go the police route then of course it will be helpful if your brother has got any form for this kind of thing – but I can still imagine that the police don't really want to get involved and will keep on trying to say that it is a "civil matter" which is a standard way of saying you are nobody important and therefore we don't want to get involved. Or if it is you who has been accused of crime – then you are too important and it's going to cause a load of hassle if we investigate you.


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@unclebulgaria67Thank you for your reply. As a business owner myself I can appreciate CEX point of view in matters.


We never had a loan agreement. Although my brother did offer to pay the monthly price of the phone. Which he paid by bank transfer to me every month he had the phone. 


In the current situation they are and will remain in financial loss on this occasion, which they have openly said to me. They are sticking with there point that they are happy to hand over to the police if requested which they know will not happen. They are also aware that the phone will remain locked, and effectively unsaleable, until returned to myself. I understand though that the phone is there collateral in all of this and offering to sell the phone to me for £393 is there way to do some damage control. 

Whilst the offer may be reasonable it unfortunately makes no sense to me financially. I would be more out of pocket if I done this. It would be nice to have the phone returned but the worst case would be for me to leave the locked phone with CEX and purchase a cheap mobile to use until the contracts runs out. I have the SIM card for the line. 


@BankFodderThank you for your reply.

I wouldn’t want to make an allegation of theft because it wouldn’t seem right as I did give him the phone to use for a few months, although I’m not sure if it being eventually sold makes it theft. I don’t know why my brother sold the phone, but I’m assuming he must have had financial difficulties at the time to have done this as it is completely out of character for him. 

Sadly the family situation means there wouldn’t be any complications in that respect. I would usually take this on the chin and move on but unfortunately it’s one of many difficulties at the moment that by being resolved would help alleviate some other problems. It is myself who will be dealing with my brothers estate but unfortunately there isn’t one which is putting huge financial pressure on myself. 

I very much appreciate everyone’s input in things. It’s easy, from my point of view, to look at things and only see it one way and not think of the other. Of course it would be nice to have the phone back and help alleviate some of the many problems at the moment but I understand this may not be the case. 

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Hi. I'm so sorry to hear about your brother - what a shock.


We also advise on Probate if you need some back-up on that when you're ready. That would be in our General Legal forum. For now, I expect you want to stick with this thread.



Illegitimi non carborundum




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Well I'm certainly not urging you to attack your dead brother – but simply as a matter of information for anyone who visits this thread, even if you lent it to him, if your brother then went on to treat in a dishonest way which effectively deprived you of the phone then that would be theft.

I certainly think that it would be an uncomfortable thing to do even if your brother had not died but the current situation must make the whole thing very emotional and very difficult.

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Posted (edited)

I think the most straightfoward way of dealing with this is to contact your network supplier, tell them the phone and SIM are missing and get them to blacklist (not just block) the mobile phone.


The phone is then useless to anyone and you can be sure that it will never be made live on the network again.


Order a replacement SIM from your network provider (you might have to pay a small amount) and get yourself a cheap secondhand phone to use.


No grief with CEX and you have your number back.

Edited by Homer67
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