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Someone bought an iPhone online but a thief beat them to the collection

Argos Storefront
Argos Storefront (Image credit: PA)

What you need to know

  • A customer ordered a $1,499 iPhone online and planned to collect it in-store.
  • When they arrived they were told it had already been collected.
  • It took a letter to a national newspaper to get it all sorted out.

Getting a brand new iPhone is an exciting experience. So it has to be a tad disappointing when you find out that your $1,499 iPhone 11 Pro Max has been handed to a complete stranger. Amazingly, that's what happened to Argos customer "JF".

The story goes that JF ordered the iPhone 11 Pro Max online from UK retailer Argos. Anyone buying from Argos has the option to collect at a local store, which is exactly what JF wanted to do. Waiting for a new iPhone to be delivered is no fun, right? I'll let JF pick up the story here.

Three weeks ago I ordered an iPhone 11 Pro Max worth £1,499 from Argos, using its "fast track" click and collect service. I paid up front using my bank card, and Argos emailed me a collection code and PIN.The iPhone would be available to collect in store within seven days, I was told. I turned up to collect my iPhone, only to find someone else had beaten me to it.Argos had given my iPhone to a another man who somehow had my Argos fast track number and PIN.

Quite how that happened, nobody seems to know. It's presumed that someone had been able to gain access to JF's email account and then intercepted the collection code and PIN. But what are the chances of someone compromising an email account online and just happening to live locally? That seems odd to say the least.

Whatever happened, Argos then let itself down with the way it dealt with the situation, telling JF that they would need to speak to their bank about getting a refund. It was only when JF wrote to The Telegraph that things started to move in the right direction. And even then it wasn't as smooth a process as it should have been, according to "consumer champion" Katie Morley.

Following my involvement, I fully expected Argos to refund the price of the phone. But I have argued with it until I'm blue in the face, and it will not even accept it has a security problem, let alone refund your £1,499.

Thankfully, things did get sorted out eventually, with Argos saying the full sum will be refunded. Now, why couldn't that have just been done in the first place?

Oliver Haslam
Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.

3 Comments
  • I gotta side with Argos in this case. His email is obviously compromised... for a £1.5k anything a thief would travel a long way, and even if it's compromised by somebody internationally, they could just sell the info to somebody in the UK.
  • Umm, how about for a $1500 device the store ask for proof of identification as well. I can't purchase something that expensive from the Apple store and just walk in and show them my email proof. I also have to have ID to prove who I was. You NEVER side with a big box store over the consumer in a situation like this. The store is going to be covered under insurance, while the consumer is not. Its a messy paper trail for the store so they will try and screw the consumer but why you'd chose to side with a store over a human being who was robbed is really baffling.
  • Or they compromised his email, saw there was a receipt and details for a £1.5k phone, and sold the data to someone more local on the black market for less than £1.5k. They'd still make a hefty profit I'd bet.