T-Mobile's Backdoor Exclusivity Prevents You From Using Old Phone With AT&T

Reader Greg accidentally ran his iPhone through the washing machine. Whoops. Luckily, he still had his old BlackBerry from his days with T-Mobile, so he swapped in his AT&T SIM card to the BlackBerry and fired it up. Unfortunately, his BlackBerry was still locked by T-Mobile, and they didn’t feel like helping a former customer.

Greg writes that he had been a T-Mobile and BlackBerry customer since 2005, but switched to AT&T in 2007 when the original iPhone came out. After he broke his iPhone, Greg tried the SIM card with his BlackBerry but got a connectivity error. His SIM card worked fine with an older, unbranded phone, so he knew the problem was with his BlackBerry. He got in touch with T-Mobile and received an email that said, “Unfortunately, your account is not eligible to receive the unlock code at this time. In order to be eligible, all requests must be submitted within 180 days after canceling service. The account has been cancelled [sic] for more than 180 days and therefore an unlock code cannot be provided.”

Greg checked T-Mobile’s policy online and found no mention of this restriction, only a requirement that he had been a T-Mobile customer for at least 90 days, which he had.

We suggested that Greg check online to see if there was some kind of jailbreak similar to the iPhone, or that he get in touch with BlackBerry/RIM to get an unlock code directly. In the meantime, this is another example of how ridiculous wireless exclusivity is. Greg bought his BlackBerry through T-Mobile and fulfilled his service contract; the BlackBerry should then be free for him to do as he wishes. Instead, T-Mobile has paralyzed his phone, and the exclusivity-which the carriers ostensibly use to ensnare fans of hot, new phones-has continued to cripple his outdated BlackBerry long after it was a marquee item. This is especially odd considering T-Mobile seems to be all about using exclusive phones with other carriers.

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(Photo: stirwise)