More than 200 complaints against cellphone buyback company

Cellular Distribution Strategies based in SD

SAN DIEGO - The Better Business Bureau has issued a warning about a cellphone buyback company that says it will pay you for your old mobile phone.

Cellular Distribution Strategies, which is also known as Hello Totem on the Internet, has 50,000 customers around the country but is headquartered in San Diego.

The BBB said 224 complaints have been filed against the business within the last 12 months.

BBB President Sheryl Bilbrey told 10News, "This is an extraordinary volume out of one company. It clearly communicates to me there's something seriously wrong at the company."

A 10News crew went to the Mira Mesa office to speak with the owner. He was not there. When 10News asked for his phone number, a man who said he was an employee shoved a 10News camera out of the way and told the crew to get out of his office.

10News eventually caught up with the owner, Nick Fiorentino.

"It disappoints me," he said. "I mean, I've put my life into this and I know the service we offer consumers is a good one."

However, hundreds of consumers are angry. The complaints range from excessive payment delays, receiving less money than the quoted amount for phones and difficulty reaching the business.

"I can say it's reached a critical mass that has caused us to give them an 'F' rating," said Bilbrey.

Bob Olsson waited two months for his money before finally going to the business in person.

He received his money but he was not happy.

"Extremely bad customer service… just a very frustrating and time-consuming experience," said Olsson.

Fiorentino said customers are partly to blame.

"We also are seeing a huge influx of customer phones that aren't what they stated they were," he said.

Other factors he said are out of his control are slower FedEx shipping times and a sudden surge of phones since the release of the iPhone 5.

Nevertheless, Fiorentino said many of the complaints have been resolved and he is trying to resolve the rest.

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