Parents find naked photos on smartphone they bought for daughter

Parents find naked photos on smartphone they bought for sixth grade daughter

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When the Smiths' daughter looked through the phone, it had hundreds of pictures, including several naked photos. When the Smiths' daughter looked through the phone, it had hundreds of pictures, including several naked photos.
"My daughter had been waiting for the phone for a year," Annie Smith (left) said. "We had to take it away from her." "My daughter had been waiting for the phone for a year," Annie Smith (left) said. "We had to take it away from her."

By DON DARE
6 On Your Side Consumer Investigator

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Smartphones are enormously popular with more than one billion people around the world using them.

And while millions more buy smartphones every month, many return them to stores for various reasons where they can be sold less expensively as "used" devices.

Annie and Larry Smith haven't turned on their daughter's new smartphone since Christmas. It was meant to be a gift for the sixth grader.

Larry purchased it from the Cellular Sales office in Bearden on Dec. 24.

On Christmas Day, when their daughter turned it on, everyone got a surprise.

"My daughter said, 'Daddy, this phone has 446 pictures on it.' I said, 'Don't worry, it's probably screen savers or background pictures.' And she said, 'Daddy, these aren't screen savers.' I knew something was wrong. That's when I got the phone and started looking," Larry said. "Saw a nude woman."

"My daughter had been waiting for the phone for a year," Annie said. "We had to take it away from her."

Wrapped in cellophane when opened, the Smiths say the phone appeared new, but the box it was in looked beat up.

For the first time since Christmas, they turned on the phone and scrolled through the pictures.

"It's someone else's family, mostly like construction photos," Larry said.

There were also pictures of people having fun and a rather risque shot.  

"There's one picture of a woman's breasts almost exposed," he said.
 
That was mild compared to a more explicit photo.

"We can't show that, that's too much," Larry said of the image.

The day after Christmas, the Smiths made a phone call to the store.

"I said, 'I'd like to know what happened to allow this to occur, and know what you are going to do to prevent it from happening again,'" he said.

But what he found out surprised him.

"They rely on people to get these phones, to get the memory wiped clean. 'Course it was supposed to be a brand new phone," he said.

Turns out, the phone the Smiths bought was not new.  

Cellular Sales tells 6 on your Side they provide what's called a 14-day "worry free" offer. If a customer is not satisfied, they can either void the transaction or exchange the phone.

But to be accepted for a return, the phone must be in like-new condition, including the box and accessories. Once returned, the phone is cleaned and reset.

However Cellular Sales told 6 On Your Side there was "obviously a misstep" in the case of the Smiths.

As a result, the company says it is now collecting returned devices from each store and specific people, instead of sales representatives, have been assigned to clean the devices of existing data.

The phones will then be forwarded to the service department to confirm they aesthetically look new and are cleaned and reset.   Finally, a prominent red sticker stating "pre-owned" will be placed on the box.

The company has told the Smiths they believe these steps will prevent another issue like theirs in the future. The couple has worked out a settlement with Cellular Sales.

Cellular Sales says its updated policy on returned phones is presently in use.

The Knoxville-based company says it puts customers first and maintains an honorable organization.


If you have a consumer issue, call the 6 On Your Side Hotline at 865-633-5974 or email ddare@wate.com.

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