AT&T Won't Sell You iPhone Because "You're Going To Unlock It"

Colin writes:

I went into my nearest ATT store and there were two CSR’s behind the counter- I asked for an 8gig Refurb iPhone thats being sold for $249 and the kid said sure and walked me over to the desk. The next words out of his mouth “What is your social security number?” No “How are you today?” “Thanks for coming in” No, apparently they just want my credit report to see if I am “worthy”

“Um. What? Why do you need that?” He tells me that its necessary for activating a new account “I don’t want an account now, I will activate on iTunes later” He turns and asks some other CSR if they can sell it without activation- to which the other CSR says “No” I say, ok, whatever, I’ll buy the phone and just cancel the service, then I can keep the phone because I am paying full price for it. “No, you can’t do that, you would have to return the phone”

I’m starting to get upset at this point so I ask for a manager, and next thing I know, theres now 5 CSR’s behind the counter. (No other customers in the store- just me). Manager says no, and that if I buy and activate, they will notate my account that I plan to cancel and keep the phone. I am FURIOUS now, so I call ATT and explain the situation to a sales csr- she is confused and is useless and can’t resolve the issue anyway. Hanging up, I then approach the sales desk- now there are 8 CSR’s behind the desk!!?! (Only ONE other customer in the store btw) I tell one of the CSR’s I am ready to buy and activate on a two year commitment… Drum roll please…


“What?!!? Why not!?”

“Because you are going to unlock the phone and we can’t allow that. Go buy one on eBay.”

Now I am about to lose it.

“First off, you have NO right to dictate to me what I do and do not do with a product I purchase. If I pay FULL RETAIL PRICE for something, I can smash it with hammers and throw the pieces off the Grand Canyon if I so choose!”

Purchasing an iPhone at full retail price carries with it no commitment to anything, and to make assumptions to what I plan to do with the phone is complete discrimination. What if I wanted to give it as a gift to my girlfriend and she would be able to activate on her own accord???

I explain all of this, calmly mind you, and then ask them to call their corporate office. Mrs. CSR #1 says “We are corporate”

So now they’ve lowered themselves to LYING to my face. Awesome.

“You’re corporate? I make more money in one day then you make all week Mrs. Corporate”

Now THEY’RE really pissed and tell me they are calling security. I tell them go ahead! I’m not stealing, Im not breaking things, Im not wildly running around the store naked & screaming “The iPhones are your demi-god! OBEY!” I am trying to PURCHASE a product and agree to the terms of their contract!!!!!

“We are denying to sell to you”

I fold my arms and wait. Three security guards show up and I take the ‘leader’ aside and explain. He has NO idea what to do. He actually calls the main office, his boss, and asks what to do in this kind of situation. The security boss says the store CAN deny me the sale and asks the security guard to pass along that message to me. I respect their decision, but once outside the store, the guard AGREES with me!

“You should be able to do whatever you want with the phone. If you bought it, its yours”

He apologizes and tells me that I should go to the main kiosk and file a complaint with the mall corporate offices.

Fast-forward 30 mins, I’ve driven to another store, I walk in, ask the same question “I’d like an iPhone 8gig refurb”

“Ok, here you go! No contract? No problem! That will be $249.00 plus tax”

That being said: They have NO rights to deny a sale because they “Suspect” I might unlock it. It is not spoiled to defend my rights as a consumer to purchase an item under the terms of the agreement set forth by the manufacturer and the distributer. To deny me purchasing the item at FULL RETAIL PRICE because they think I might “unlock it” or “sell it on eBay” is judgmental and discriminatory.

The whole point of being able to buy the phone at full retail price is the convenience of activating it in the comforts of home, or giving it as a gift to someone who will activate it themselves.

And like I said- you receive NO discount on the price of the phone for activating! So if you want to buy one, NOT activate it and merely hang it on your wall like a piece of art- That is your given right as a consumer!

I apologize for the long rant, but I am furious that this kind of situation was even necessary…

Thank you for taking the time to read what occurred.


Colin M.

Looks like one AT&T store has taken it upon themselves to grossly misinterpret company policy and procedures. Why should the store give a damn what you do with the phone after you walk out with it? It’s no skin off their hunched and scaly backs. Once again, when it comes to You, iPhone, and AT&T, the cellphone carrier is your 7th grade girlfriend’s ugly friend that kept showing up whenever you wanted to go makeout in the back of a dark movie theater.