Earth Mobile cease trading, take money and mobiles with them

11 August 2010

Bitterwallet - Earth MobileMobile phone recycling has become an easy way of both clearing out the kitchen drawer of crapola we all have, and earning a few extra bob. Except when the website you sent your mobiles to goes to the wall before you're paid - welcome to the world of Earth Mobile.

Businesses go bust all the time, but that's not what's irritating customers in the MSE forums, as well as avid Bitterwallet reader Alasdair:

"The obvious problem is that there are a lot of people out there who had sent in their mobiles and haven't been paid. Most of these mobiles were sent in a long time ago, and as the company promised to pay "within 7 days" and haven't paid for months or so... clearly they knew that this was coming but still accepted phones and offered to pay for them."

According to these reports, Earth Mobile were whipping up plenty of interest by offering the best prices on used mobiles, swaying consumers from choosing more established services. After seemingly stringing many customers along for weeks with promises of payment, all the while accepting handsets from new customers, the Earth Mobile site disappeared on Monday to be replaced with a message stating the company has ceased trading.

The company operated through a rented PO Box number, but a dig through the details at Companies House (which still shows Earth Mobile Ltd as trading) and other websites show Earth Mobile was operated by Russell Malcolm Tilbury, and numerous searches reveal several addresses in the Windsor area. He certainly cast his business net far and wide; Earth Mobile appears to have been trading on eBay in both China and France.

Since Monday, Tilbury has gone to ground, taken his customers money and their mobiles with him. We've tried to call all the numbers littered about the internet, but all resolve in recorded messages or full mailboxes. There seems to be no footprint outside Earth Mobile for Tilbury or the company's other director, Katie Iliffe. MSE members have reported recording the issue with Trading Standards; in the meantime, we'll keep hunting for the elusive Mister Tilbury.

TOPICS:   Mobile


  • a b.
    anyone want his fone number i have fuckin thousands lol
  • The B.
    I'm guessing it's not this bloke then?
  • Morocco
    What's he going to do with all those phones? Phone them all at once, it will drive him spare.
  • Paul C.
    Is the name of the company Mobile Earth or Earth Mobile? Make up your fucking minds, boys.
  • Gari
    Well done BW - when the BW site was launched this was the kind of thing I thought BW would be concentrating on not re-hashing weird/wacky internet stories. Its great to see you take up an issue like this and hopefully we'll see more of these kind of stories......
  • m_jack
    @ Morocco Maybe he's gonna recycle them all with Fonebank!!
  • Noodles
    Shame..makes me laugh soo much..idiots for sending phones to be recycled when you could give it to charity. total buffoons! @ Paul the article u clearly says mobile earth. learn to read dimwit!
  • Mark
    So basically it's like mugging people on the street for their phones, but on a national scale? Entrepreneurial.
  • Paul C.
    @ Noodles - It's now been changed to Earth Mobile. Before it was both all over the article.... TWUNT. thanks for changing it paul..
  • Robbie
    @Noodles "idiots for sending phones to be recycled when you could give it to a charity." Some people are charitable, but sending a good condition iPhone to charity where you'd get nothing and sending it to be recycled for £220+ are different things.
  • Occorom
    @ Morocco, you drive me spare.
  • Morocco
    @Occorom, fuck off then, cunt.
  • Noodles
    @ Paul..u total was mobile earth its been crawl back to ur hole u reject! @ Robbie no its not different things..why dont you go to established shops and sell it there..greedy people deserve to be played like this lol!
  • Noodles g.
    @ Noodles - You clearly have some anger issues, Paul was correct initially in that the original article used both variations. Can I suggest sitting in a quiet room and breathing deeply perhaps, just don't go to McD's and try to order Chicken Nuggets at 9:00am!
  • Paul C.
    Someone with a name like Noodles shouldn't be taken seriously anyway, guys.
  • Paul S.
    I did, I mixed the two up in the original article, saw Paul's comment and corrected them. Now settle down, it's tea time.
  • Brendan
    Nice detective skills there Paul Smith. Your proof off him operating in China and France is a load of crap. You can look at any auction/user profile page through any country's eBay site, it doesn't mean that auction/user is selling in/to that country. Even a quick look at the feedback would show you that all auctions were in GBP and no feedback comments in Chinese or French.
  • Brendan
    I meant 'of', of course
  • The B.
    WTF???? IS DIS 4 REAL?????
  • Viraj
    I believe this is classifed as theft so the two directors can be reported to the police. The offer was clear when we filed the phones online. Th acceptance was on reciept of the phone. If there is no payment..then there's no contract and therefore it is classifed as theft in law. Start reporting to the police and obtaining a crime number. I have sent him over £50 worth of phones
  • Mick T.
    Jeez, some people have real issues here, go and see a specialist! A cursory trawl through the feedback show feedback from Malta, Spain, Portugal and Belgium, clearly Earth Mobile were selling across Europe at least, but frankly if any seller pays via paypal and is willing to pay the postage you would happily sell to where-ever, wouldn't you. Bit of a crap business model though, sales via Ebay seem to have been slow.
  • kirsty
    Me and my partner got caught out by him, any information anybody has we would be really greatful thanks
  • emma
    me and my husband have both been caught out by this ... what do we do now
  • me
    Posted by Viraj | August 12th, 2010 at 7:23 am I believe this is classifed as theft You believe wrong
  • rebekah c.
    i can not believe this i am still waiting for my money for my two fones which i am not going to get now!!!! arghhhhh!!!
  • Rob
    If you have sent off a mobile and not yet received payment for it, then please report it to Consumer Direct at, or on 08454 040506. They will give first tier advice and log the complaint details for us. Trading Standards
  • Stephanie B.
    Is there anyway i will be able to get my money back for the phone i sent in? Can't believe this has happened :/
  • Gary
    @Stephanie Bird - unlikely, you will be listed as just one of (probably) hundreds if not thousands of creditors of the firm. Any money you receive will be after any preferential creditors have received money due to them. I wouldn't hold your breath.
  • phsrn
    This guy is linked to Space 4 U Self Storage Ltd in Windsor for those of you who are on here for help not to bicker. Hope this helps :)
  • Ollsypoos
    I used Earth Mobile Ltd through, a cashback site, who state that they will seek payment of the cashback for using earthmobile through an affiliate company. Incidentally, the company is still registered as active on compaines house, it's not been liquidated or dissolved yet.
  • phsrn
    Have also found these numbers for him 01753 862259 and 01753 496180, good luck :)
  • Rob This should answer most general queries about the different forms of administration/liquidation/insovency. etc and what they mean. It has been correctly pointed out above that the business is still active (as at 16-8-10), so you are entitled to your phone back, or the money it is worth at this stage, and failure to do either is a breach of contract. I would again urge anyone to record their own complaint with Consumer Direct, so that we can pick them up that way. Trading Standards
  • doug
    This is not theft however if they accepted phones which they knew they could not pay for then they have defrauded creditors and can be classified as fraudulent trading. If this is the case then the directors could be held responsible personally. However, for the £35 i'm owed I do not believe this would be a cost effective manner of recovering either my phone or £35. This I find particularly annoying. D
  • Michele
  • Paul
    Hi, I am owed £71 too. I have contacted companies house and paypal with no luck! Has anyone been able to get their or some money back?
  • Paul s.
    I'm owed 75 for a Sony Ericsson...surely thers something that can be done...I paid 300 for that phone about 6months ago...I didn't mind accepting 75 because it was better than nothing...but now I actually have nothing!
  • Rob
    Message from the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead Trading Standards Service -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- At RBWM Trading Standards we have been in discussions with Earth Mobile Ltd and their firm of accountants to look at different solutions to resolve the complaints. As of this current time we have their assurance that they are now seeking to return phones to customers, starting with those that bear a return name/address on the packaging first, and higher value phones being the priority. Due to difficulties with data protection, we are seeking clarification as to whether we can pass individual consumer contact/complaint details on to Earth Mobile Ltd to help them identify the right phone to the right owner. This is particularly of use where the packaging is no longer with the phone. If you have a complaint against Earth Mobile, and are happy for us to discuss your complaint with them including passing over your data, then please email us at trading.standards@ with your name, address, (and if you have it) your Consumer Direct Reference Number, stating that you give us permission to discuss your case. If you have not done so already, then our advice is to log the call with Consumer Direct on 08454 040506, or by email using their form on their website and specifically log the make and model of phone, the IMEI number and Earth Mobile order number. Please also leave your email address as it is the most convenient means for us to make future contact with you. The rented storage facility (Windsor Self Storage, Arthur Road, Windsor) have been rejecting packages since mid August, therefore any handsets sent to "Freepost Earth Mobile Ltd" are being safely held by the Royal Mail National Returns Centre in Belfast. The advice from them is to wait 30 days to allow them time to process and log the phones. During that 30 days they will open the package and make a database entry describing the contents and any clues as to who it belongs to. After the 30 days (from time of posting) have elapsed you should call Royal Mail Customer Services on 08457 740740 to make a ‘find my item’ request. Give them as many details as possible regarding the package, the contents, including your EM order number, phone IMEI number and distinguishing features, and they will hopefully be able to make a match and return your package to you. We have no way of knowing what phones, or even how many, have gone to Belfast. After 3 months, any unclaimed packages held will go to into storage, and after a further 3 months they go to charity.
  • Amy
    i was owed £60 from this company they then changed the amount to £20... they then ceased trade GRRRRR!! is there anywhere i can report this or is it more likely that i will never see the money or phones ??
  • Tracey
    I have today received an e-mail from Russel Tilbury "Managing Director" of Earth Mobile asking me for a return address so my phones can be returned - not holding my breath so watch this space !
  • Rob
    Earth Mobile are returning phones to customers, so far at least 88 have been returned. If you have not yet reported yours amongst them, then please call Consumer Direct on 08454 04 05 06. We need to know the make/model, IMEI number (if you have it), and your Earth Mobile (EM...) reference number. Also email us at [email protected] your details and permission (under data protection) so that we can discuss your case with Earth Mobile and try to get your phone back to you. - Rob Trading Standards
  • Earth B.
    [...] month, Bitterwallet reported on mobile recycling company Earth Mobile going belly up. Plenty of customers had posted their old handsets in return for cash, and many waited had been [...]
  • Sheryl
    I work for a mobile phone recycling company Russell used to buy our stock!!
  • Tom L.
    I sent an iphone in months ago and after constant chasing recieved a chq for £120 unfortunatly i have today recieved a letter from my bank stating that the chq has bounced, not sure what to do next can anyone help me please? Tommy
  • Olu
    I'm owed £220 for iPhone. I got in touch and I was told my cheque was going to be processed and put in the post 1st class. This was a blatant lie as I never received any cheque. I called back after a week and was told 1st class didn't mean next day. It was a deliberate act to deceive on the part of Earth Mobile.
  • Graham M.
    Scary thing is that over 6 months later some of the mobile phone recycling sites out there are still listing Earth Mobile, giving sites like ours ( a bad name.
  • Anon
    Found this page 2 years late, sent my phone in to recycle was promised £80, got nothing but a letter through the post saying it has been confirmed a payment being sent. Only thing was they stop trading prior to sending the letter. Call them asap and all i get is a message saying they have closed down. I still have the print out letter to remind me never to trust any new sites with deals paying a few pounds over what others offer, and to just go with trusted buyers, been using fonebank ever since and no problems with them. I recommend anyone to stop trying to make a few pounds profit on a big risk sites like these and stick to bigger sites that have trusted feedback.

What do you think?

Connect with Facebook, Twitter, or just enter your email to sign in and comment.

Your comment