Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Unlocking cell phones RANT

WARNING: This is a customer service rant.

My St. Maarten UTS Chippie cell phone is not in the best shape, and since I have 3 other cell phones from AT&T/Cingular, I decided to look into getting one of them unlocked so I can use them here in the Caribbean.

Saturday, I did a search and found a company that would sell me the unlock code for my Sony Ericsson z300a for about $15. But, there was a Google Ad that gave a price at £4.99 or about $7. I went to look at them. In their dropdown menu for Sony Ericsson phones they listed my model. You fill out their order form and click on the "agree to terms & conditions". I quickly read the terms and conditions which stated that if you couldn't unlock this phone you'd get a credit to do another. No problem, I thought, because it was listed in their dropdown menu... I paid via PayPal and didn't log into our account. I just used the PayPal pay by credit card option. The order was accepted and it said I'd have the code in 4 hours.

Well, I received an email saying they couldn't unlock this phone and to check their terms & conditions and I'd see that the phone was not listed on this page but I could get a credit to unlock another phone. I was a bit miffed... why was it listed in their dropdown menu then?

But not to worry as I have another phone... a Nokia 2610 that I got in St. Thomas in November. In the form I filled out it asked for the PayPal receipt number, order number, the phone's IMEI serial number (which I assumed was for the 1st phone so they could check my account record). Then in the message area below I put the new phone information with its IMEI serial number.

I received a reply with the unlock code but by the way the email was written, I was worried that they didn't use the correct serial number to generate the code, so I send another message and ask them to verify that they used the correct one and gave it to them again.

I received another reply with a different unlock code. It starts with PW+ and I can't get my phone to enter "P" it just displays 7, so I ask how to do that. In the meantime I find the answer on a different web site. I then understand how to enter the unlock code and do so. It doesn't work. I try it again and it doesn't work. I read on the internet that you can only do this 5 times.

I write to the unlock data company again saying that it doesn't work. They said they were sorry and that they have modified my account giving me credit to unlock yet another phone. How many phones do they think I have? I told them I was unhappy and I would contact PayPal or they could give me a refund.

I wrote to PayPal. Gave them my receipt number, the name of the company, and the amount charged. I told them I'd like a refund for services not rendered. Gave them a very short account of how they claimed they could unlock my cell phone but failed twice. I mentioned that I had felt safe to puchase this via PayPal.

I'm sure this scammy company (UK) makes most of their money by not delivering product in the full knowledge that their customers will just go "oh well, it was only $7 and I should have known better". I felt this way, too, but I didn't want them to get away with this yet again.

The next time I checked my email I had a nice message from PayPal saying that the company had given me a refund! Hooray! Thank you PayPal for your help.

I don't know how many hours I've wasted with this. At least 6 over the past couple of days.

Oh, by the way... I called AT&T yesterday and they'll give out the unlock code for their phones (FREE) but you need to have had it for at least 6 months. That was a nice surprise. Thanks!

I think I'll just look into buying a new phone in the meantime :)