Let Joe Know: Shopping for a cheaper smartphone online? Beware of fakes

PHOENIX - Smartphones are getting more expensive as carriers start offering them without contracts.

More and more people are turning to online sellers to find cheaper phones. But when you're shopping online, it's easy to get burned.

DISCOUNT PHONE ON EBAY

Marco Renk thinks of himself as tech savvy. So when he spotted a Samsung Note on eBay at $150 off the list price, he couldn't pass it up.

He bought the unlocked phone from a seller he said had great feedback from other eBay users.

But when he started checking out his new purchase, Renk noticed it was smaller than it should be.

SOMETHING'S NOT RIGHT

"I started measuring the screen; it's 5.2 inches, not 5.5," he said.

Another issue: The bottom button seemed to be in the wrong spot.

"The space from the screen down to the bottom button there is much less on the right than on the left one," according to Renk.    

And the pen for tapping the keyboard didn't fit properly.

A quick Google search alerted Renk to what he thought must be the problem: An epidemic of cheap knock off smartphones from China being sold on sites like Craigslist and eBay.

Reports say they may work, but the phones have less storage, slower speeds and washed out displays.

SELLER REFUSES REFUND

Renk contacted the seller, who denied the phone was a fake. But eBay agreed to refund Renk's purchase price.

Renk now wants to warn others: A discount smartphone from an unknown source could turn out to be an expensive paperweight.

Remember: if you buy on eBay or a similar site, you do have one kind of power - the threat of a bad review! Sellers don't like them because it brings down their rating.

If you need help or need to warn others about a consumer problem or scam, let me know at joe@abc15.com or by going to my  "Let Joe Know" Facebook page.

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