At the end of 2014, Phones 4U went into administration. This week, the retailer’s former senior executive team, as well as founder John Caudwell, have unveiled a new ‘mobile challenger’ brand called Unshackled.com.
The new venture promises to offer the best mobile deals by separating handset cost from tariff cost.
The idea is that consumers don’t lock themselves into a subsidised contract, which usually ends up in shelling out more money for the device than if you bought it out right. Unshackled wants to encourage consumers to do the opposite and offers up several top and mid-tier phones.
It’s online-only and sells ‘split’ tariffs, with the site suggesting that consumers could save hundreds of pounds if they pay for a phone and SIM plan separately.
“The problem we’re solving is 14m customers a year are unnecessarily signing contracts and recent research from Citizen’s Advice and Which? proves 92 per cent of customers are on the wrong tariff, paying – on average – £159 too much for their mobile per year,” Whittle told The Drum.
“We’re launching to put the consumer back in control, rather than being controlled by the networks.
”The start-up is co-founded by numerous former Phones 4U execs, including chief commercial officer John Whittle, chief financial officer John Morris, and chief legal officer Steven Lloyd.
Unshackled.com is funded by its co-founders, as well at Caudwell, who sold his 85 per cent stake in Phones 4U for £1.75 billion in 2006.
Phones 4U said it was ‘forced’ into administration in 2014 after phone contract networks Vodafone and EE turned their back on the retailer.
It was a disastrous few months in the lead up to the firm folding, with Vodafone withdrawing from its stores, and Currys/PC World announcing plans to pull the Phones 4U concessions from its shops following the Dixons Carphone merger.
At the time, Phones 4U CEO David Kassler said: "Today is a very sad day for our customers and our staff. If the mobile network operators decline to supply us, we do not have a business.
"A good company making profits of over £100 million and employing thousands of decent people has been forced into administration.”