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T-Mobile Phone Unlocking Lawsuit May Proceed

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the fight-for-your-right-to-unlock dept.

Communications 116

Billosaur writes "Wired is reporting that the California Supreme Court has refused to review two lower court decisions involving a class-action lawsuit against T-Mobile over their policies regarding early termination and phone unlocking. The Court rejected the reviews without comment, opening the door to the lawsuit, which aims to block T-Mobile from collecting a $200 early termination fee from users. Also on the table: an order for T-Mobile to disclose the types of phone-locking technology that may be in use on customer's phones. The ramifications if the lawsuit is successful would be to allow phone users in California to unlock their phones, and might lead to further lawsuits nationwide."

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You signed the contract (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20957455)

You pay the early termination fee if you terminate early.

It's that simple, bitches.

Re:You signed the contract (2, Insightful)

p0tat03 (985078) | more than 6 years ago | (#20957571)

Yeah. I disagree with locking on principle (I paid for the phone, even if it's through subsidies, so why can't I do with it as I please and take it to any carrier?), but early termination fees are reasonable. The provider has subsidized the initial cost of your phone in exchange for your continued patronage. If you don't like it you can ALWAYS buy a phone at full price and avoid the contract.

Re:You signed the contract (4, Insightful)

King_TJ (85913) | more than 6 years ago | (#20957647)

I agree that "a contract is a contract", and it's silly to go to court just because you don't like something you initially, willingly signed up for.

On the other hand though, the provider subsidy story is a little "flimsy" too, at times. For example, when I was with Verizon, I wanted one of the new Treo 650s when it was a brand new phone. Buying it with a 2 year extension on my contract, through Verizon, turned out to STILL be over $100 more expensive than buying the phone outright from some of the dealers selling them on the Internet.

The phone providers seem to like quoting MSRP as the "real price" of the phone, and then knock $100-200 off of that if you sign up for 1 or 2 years with them. Reality is, they're probably still making a profit on the phones after locking you into those contracts, because they're paying nowhere NEAR the MSRP on them.

Re:You signed the contract (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 6 years ago | (#20958415)

Reality is, they're probably still making a profit on the phones after locking you into those contracts, because they're paying nowhere NEAR the MSRP on them.

I ended up getting 25 bucks back after rebate on my current phone, so I know that T-Mobile didn't make any money off the sale of the phone. Service on the other hand...

T-Mobile deserves to be sued (1)

SL Baur (19540) | more than 6 years ago | (#20958473)

T-Mobile is being sued because their unlocking policies are unreasonable. When I signed up, I indicated that I wanted both an international roaming phone and unlockable phones to be used with Smart (in the Philippines). Although I was told I would get both, I got neither.

The international roaming bit was service from hell. I was attempting to get my main phone unlocked in the last two weeks before returning to Manila. The secondary phone was unlocked, but there was a problem with the primary phone that they did not tell me about and I had to call the service center a few hours before check-in to verify that yes, they would not be unlocking that phone due to some technical issue with the model. At that time (and for the third time in the week) I asked them about international roaming and was told that it was OK. It was not.

When I called their "customer care" after coming back to California I was informed that I had to notify them first, "which I see you did before you left. We're very sorry for the inconvenience ..."

T-Mobile deserves to be sued. Can I still sign up for this lawsuit? I'm a very angry T-Mobile customer in California who did not get what he paid for.

Contract with a phone (1)

phorm (591458) | more than 6 years ago | (#20960475)

I don't know about in the US, but up here the phone is sold with the same brand name as is available unlocked etc. So I sign up on a contract with the premise that I get a "Ultraphone X2321." Then I get the actual phone, and while it is in theory an X3221, they've mangled the firmware so that half the advertised features of the phone don't work properly. Maybe Wifi connections is disabled so I can't do VOIP on the smartphone. Maybe the ringtones can only be downloaded from provider's website (at a nice profit for them, of course).

The fact is that the phone was sold on false premises. The actual features of the model sold to you do not match those of what you get. Given the two aspects, the contract was therefore generated based on a false premis. I did not get an Ultraphone X2321, and therefore I did not get what was promised to me with my contract.

Re:You signed the contract (1)

RaceCarDriver (856347) | more than 6 years ago | (#20958007)

Most mobile phone service providers in the US won't let you even sign up for service without signing an agreement for either a one or two year contract.

Re:You signed the contract (1)

mrsteveman1 (1010381) | more than 6 years ago | (#20958409)

When i was 19 i signed up with Nextel and paid my bill every month, i had no contract whatsoever.

Didn't have to pay for a phone either.

Re:You signed the contract (1)

Jhon (241832) | more than 6 years ago | (#20959377)

Nevermind most, can you name even one?

You are misinformed and are misleading others.

Re:You signed the contract (1)

belunar (413142) | more than 6 years ago | (#20959671)

Cricket does not requre a service contract. Can walk in or go to their web page, buy a phone, chose a service plan, setup service, and be all set to go.

I know there are a few others that dont requre a service agreement, I cant remember them off hand.

Some carriers also have prepaid options that do not require a contract, but those tend to work alot differently than having a plan.

Re:You signed the contract (1)

thsths (31372) | more than 6 years ago | (#20959751)

> You pay the early termination fee if you terminate early.

> It's that simple, bitches.

What a concise and convincing argument. Luckily it is not that simple. I think there are three main problems:

1. A contract is the agreed result of a negotiation. Ever tried to negotiate with T-mobile for a lower termination fee? The thought alone is quite funny. So this fee is actually part of the terms of sale or terms of service, not of the contract.

2. No contract in the world can prevent you from exercising your legal options. If the law says you can go to court, then you can go to court. A contract saying otherwise is just wrong.

3. Say you are a month short of you contract duration, and for some reason you want to terminate it early. Is it then reasonable to pay 200 bucks? No, obviously not, but that is what the conditions say. Together with point 1, this is a legal problem, because T-mobile has (ab)used their superior "negotiation" position to push obviously flawed conditions.

So I think this is going to be interesting.

Re:You signed the contract (2, Insightful)

WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) | more than 6 years ago | (#20960043)

Point #1: If they would not make a compromise when it came to negotiating the contract, you should have not signed one you were unhappy with.

Point #2: Your legal options to break the contract? If you can break contracts willy nilly what's the point of contracts to begin with?

Point #3: So don't sign the contract to begin with or wait another month to cancel it.

People think they have a right to get what they want from companies that don't offer it. That is one of the reasons the United States is so lawsuit happy.

Re:You signed the contract (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20960345)

If you can break contracts willy nilly what's the point of contracts to begin with?

I dunno, ask the governments and corporations that do it all the time.

People think they have a right to get what they want from companies that don't offer it.

Competition has failed to produce what people want, so now they're trying something else.

Unlocking phones (1)

EveryNickIsTaken (1054794) | more than 6 years ago | (#20957471)

The ramifications if the lawsuit is successful would be to allow phone users in California to unlock their phones,
What am I missing here? Doesn't the DMCA already make it legal to unlock phones?

Re:Unlocking phones (1)

DustyShadow (691635) | more than 6 years ago | (#20957917)

In short, the DMCA doesn't really apply to contracts.

Re:Unlocking phones (3, Insightful)

terraformer (617565) | more than 6 years ago | (#20957995)

No, the copyright office of the USPTO created regulations to clarify what is allowed based on copyright law and this was one of the exceptions. DMCA has nothing to do with this other than the fact that the DMCA (a bill) modified the sections of the federal code (the law) that dictate the regulations that the USPTO can put into place. Based on their regulations, it is in fact not illegal for an individual to unlock a phone.

Re:Unlocking phones (1)

damsa (840364) | more than 6 years ago | (#20959739)

Copyright office is under the authority of the Library of Congress not USPTO. When correcting someone please get the basic facts straight.

Re:Unlocking phones (1)

absoluteflatness (913952) | more than 6 years ago | (#20959855)

What am I missing here? Doesn't the DMCA already make it legal to unlock phones?
...it is in fact not illegal for an individual to unlock a phone.

I think we're in agreement here that it's legal. The lawsuit seems to deal with T-Mobile having to tell it's customers how their phones have been locked, basically helping them unlock them.

Also, I'm a bit skeptical that it was really the US Patent and Trademark Office's "copyright office" that made these regulations. The US Copyright Office, which is, I assume, is the body which would make these regulations, falls under the Library of Congress.

Doesn't T-Mobile Already Allow You Unlock (3, Informative)

quanticle (843097) | more than 6 years ago | (#20957505)

Doesn't T-Mobile already allow unlocking at the end of the contract? I've had multiple T-Mobile phones, and they've always allowed you to unlock your old phone once your contract expired.

Re:Doesn't T-Mobile Already Allow You Unlock (1)

Zebra_X (13249) | more than 6 years ago | (#20957587)

If you call them, they will unlock your phone for you.

I have a t-mobile dash and I used a 3rd party unlock. I was surprised to find out when I called them that they would have done it for free.

Perhaps the charge only applies if you unlock, then terminate.

Re:Doesn't T-Mobile Already Allow You Unlock (4, Informative)

Longstaff (70353) | more than 6 years ago | (#20958099)

T-Mobile will give you the unlock code after you have been a customer for more than 90 days. I have had multiple phones from them over the 5 years I have been a customer and they have unlocked every one as soon as I get it - while in contract or month-to-month. You just have to ask.

Re:Doesn't T-Mobile Already Allow You Unlock (1)

hkgroove (791170) | more than 6 years ago | (#20958471)

Or you can just call and say you're going out of the country. Same with AT&T a friend of mine just did this with his iPhone.

Re:Doesn't T-Mobile Already Allow You Unlock (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 6 years ago | (#20959421)

Huh? I don't think the iPhone even has UI to enter a code to unlock the phone. Am I missing something? Are a whole lot of people missing something?

Re:Doesn't T-Mobile Already Allow You Unlock (1)

WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) | more than 6 years ago | (#20960095)

This guy is confused. When you call AT&T and tell them you're going out of the country, you can sign up for some temporary plan while you're over there. To keep from being hit with a bill of OVER NINE-THOUSAND dollars when you get back.

Re:T-Mobile WON'T give you the unlock codes (1)

Macrat (638047) | more than 6 years ago | (#20959021)

There is a big difference between what marketing promises and what the company actually delivers.

Since I travel frequently and use local SIMS, I really need an unlocked phone. After the 90 day waiting period, I went through T-Mobile's submission process to get the unlock code. I got an e-mail back saying it was not available from the vendor. I tried calling their support and the only response I could get was to submit again. I submitted 2 more times with the same response.

I finally gave up and took the phone to a shop in San Francisco and had it unlocked there for $25

Re:Doesn't T-Mobile Already Allow You Unlock (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20958125)

Doesn't T-Mobile already allow unlocking at the end of the contract? I've had multiple T-Mobile phones, and they've always allowed you to unlock your old phone once your contract expired.

Warning: incoherent rant ahead...

In the UK I've had problems with T-Mobile...

Although my contract has expired, they still refuse to unlock my phone unless I pay them!

At the point where the eighteen-month contract was due to expire within three days, they informed me that they would be charging me for another month regardless of whether I wanted the line or used it. Now when I call they just redirect me to someone who effectively repeats 'terms and conditions' until one of us hangs-up.

That was eighteen *long* months, where each month involved being 'overcharged' by upto 100% due to the fine-print in their contract allowing them to basically charge me 50p per minute (including whilst sat listening to hold-music for 17mins, every time) when I called to try to resolve the problems with the (£400) partially-configured non-3G '3G' PDA-phone they sold me that couldn't and still can't receive picture messages; that allows them to exclude most of my calls and texts from the £35/month that I was paying them.

Now they're attempting to ruin my credit rating by passing my details on to a debt-collection agency to recover the £19 they believe I owe them because I refused to keep paying after my contract had expired.

Every time I questioned the fairness of their tactics, their response was 'all mobile companies in the UK do it'. Sadly, this may be true, although I've not yet experienced this (yet).

One of their favourite games is responsibility-tennis, whereby the customer service line staff (read: core company) distances themselves from knowledge-of- and culpability-for the actions of the staff in their stores and vice-versa - the outcome being that there's no way for me to get any kind of satisfaction after being sold a phone which the sales person claimed was 3G but isn't; after the sales person tricked me into taking an expensive contract by telling me that to take the PDA phone I wanted, I must take a particular contract (later revealed to be untrue by customer services); after the sales-person sold me a per-month fixed-price contract which later was revealed to exclude almost all calls/texts made by me.

This is by far one of the most evil public-facing companies I've had the misfortune to deal with. They are, in effect, organised (really well organised) crime; with a twist, they use the legal system to trick, misdirect and coerce their customers.

If they were they only mobile company, I'd rather not have a mobile.

It's particularly frustrating that they're split in to multiple companies; one side-effect being that any class-action suit in the US can't result in UK customers being treated fairly.

I'm soo tired of living in this climate where companies use every tactic available to them to screw the customer, again and again then use the system to penalise any dissent.

As a final note at the end of my rant....

At the end of my contract, they wouldn't unlock my phone because "they're not required to by law" lol. This, to me, is extremely short-sighted behaviour. Don't these companies realise that customers have memories and talk to each other? I'll be quite happy to take reasonable steps to ensure that no more of my money ever reaches them, direcly or indirectly, but that's not quite enough, is it?

Re:Doesn't T-Mobile Already Allow You Unlock (1)

CrossChris (806549) | more than 6 years ago | (#20960101)

If it's a Nokia or a Motorola, it's trivially easy to unlock it yourself, and there are LOTS of websites that will show you how (and it's free!).

Re:Doesn't T-Mobile Already Allow You Unlock (1)

digitalchinky (650880) | more than 6 years ago | (#20962107)

If you can point me to a site or information that shows how it is 'trivially easy' to unlock a Nokia N80 (bb5) for 'free', I'll give you any brand new phone you want, for free, and pay all shipping and handling fees for overnight delivery. Yes, I am serious.

Re:Doesn't T-Mobile Already Allow You Unlock (1)

WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) | more than 6 years ago | (#20960129)

So maybe next time you'll research your phone before dropping a few hundred bucks on it. And maybe research the plan.

Buyer beware and all that. It's your responsibility to make sure that you're not getting fucked over.

Re:Doesn't T-Mobile Already Allow You Unlock (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20960351)

Oh yeah, cos a business can do no wrong :rolleyes:

If you'd actually read the comment you'd have noticed the bit where he said the salesman lied to him. Perhaps in america this behaviour is considered acceptable, but in normal human society it is not.

Re:Doesn't T-Mobile Already Allow You Unlock (1)

Ecuador (740021) | more than 6 years ago | (#20958159)

Not only after the end of your contract. After a couple of months from the start of my contract, I called T-Mobile, as other people told me, and just asked for my phone to be unlocked, so that I could use a European SIM when I travel. No problem.
Why not go after the other guys (call me AT&T) that never unlock the phone you paid for.

Now, as for the termination fee, do people realize that the phones they get are heavily subsidised? Except for the iPhone, every other phone you buy you can get it either for free or at a very low price, just because you are entering a contract. If the termination fees are abolished, you will have to PAY UP FRONT for the cost of the device, which is certainly not what most users would like. You can't just terminate your contract and switch to prepaid like many people do in Europe (incoming calls are free there - prepaid makes sense to many), you will always pay for a monthly contract why not have it absorb some of the cost of your phone?

I started out unlocked (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20958285)

I bought an unlocked Nokia from Austrailia.

Then I signed up with T-Mobile using it.

They had no problem at all with it being unlocked.

They do, even before contract expires (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20959955)

I have had my phones unlocked simply by calling them whenever I have traveled abroad with a locked phone. You dont have to wait for your contract to expire, and you don't have to go through any hassle for unlocking your phone.

and thats the reason I am with t-mobile for past 5 years.

There may be few incidents with some people having trouble getting their phones unlocked, but thats definitely not a norm, as I know many friends of mine having their phones unlocked just by making a simple call to them.

Termination Fee? (2, Interesting)

photomonkey (987563) | more than 6 years ago | (#20957519)

What does unlocking a phone have to do with terminating a cellular contract?

I'd love to see locked phones AND cell termination fees go the way of the dodo, but this seems like an "I don't like the terms of teh service I signed up for, so I'm suing" suit.

In theory, if we could buy unlocked phones more easily, we could then choose whatever carrier we want, adn would probably be less likely to pay the cancellation fee.

Do you want to pay MSRP for phones? (1)

winkydink (650484) | more than 6 years ago | (#20957797)

Because in the absence of locking and contracts, there's no financial incentive for the carriers to subsidize the selling price of the phone.

Re:Do you want to pay MSRP for phones? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20957921)

Yes I do. That way I get the phone that I want, and the service that I want. One shouldn't be subsidizing the other.

I pay MSRP already (1)

SIIHP (1128921) | more than 6 years ago | (#20958049)

It just gets hidden in the cost of the service and spread out over the term of the contract.

Unless you think the phone companies eat the cost of subsidizing the phones...

Re:Do you want to pay MSRP for phones? (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 6 years ago | (#20958053)

Paying as little as MSRP would probably be a huge discount over "financing" it through a calling plan, if you knew what you were paying.

Cellphones aren't all that precious anymore. My wife recently got a tracphone (which has no contract) and went for the $30 model [tracfone-orders.com] - which I guess is splurging, since they have another one for $15. Her $30 phone certainly does look cheap (almost like the fake toy cellphones they make for little kids), but it works just fine.

All that buying cellphones upfront would do is hurt the sales of high-end models, since people would realize what they're paying for features they don't really want anyways.

Re:Do you want to pay MSRP for phones? (2, Insightful)

Chosen Reject (842143) | more than 6 years ago | (#20958155)

Do I want to play MSRP for phones? Of course I do. Does that sound silly to you? Probably, so I'll explain. Let's suppose we live in a world where cell phone contracts and phone locking didn't exist. You say that there would then be no incentive for the carriers to subsidize the cost of the phone. This is true, but then, they would have no need to. A cell phone manufacturer would then need to make their phone affordable to consumers. Right now, if I was Samsung/Motorola/etc. I would be jacking the price of my phones up knowing that the consumer won't ever see that price. The consumer will always see $100/50/free or whatever and not care that the real cost of the phone is $500. If the manufacturer had to sell directly to the consumer, then they would know they can't sell at that price. As a service provider I wouldn't care either, because I just add 10 cents to each contract holders monthly bill and cover the costs that way.

At the risk of starting an offtopic flamewar about medical insurance, the same thing is occuring there. When insurance covers you such that you only pay a $25 copay to see a doctor, you are shielded from the doctor charging you $500 for your 30 minute visit. Granted, you will pay more for your premiums over time, but that's a small monthly fee that you know you can't get rid because you need insurance. Same thing with the phone companies. Sure you get the small price of the phone up front, but now you are stuck with a locked phone and a contract. If that phone company starts to turn sour, you can either put up with it for the remainder of your contract, or bail at a significant price.

Option 1:
  • Cheap, locked phones
  • That raise the price of your monthly contract to cover the subsidy (you didn't actually think the phone company was being that kind did you?)
  • Limited freedom to move around when the phone company starts dinking with you
Option 2:
  • Slightly more upfront cost for a phone
  • Complete freedom to do with the phone what you want
  • Complete ability to leave your phone company as you suit
  • Thus more competition and lowered monthly prices and better options as phone companies actually have to compete to get you to stay with them

Re:Do you want to pay MSRP for phones? (1)

petehead (1041740) | more than 6 years ago | (#20958407)

Let's suppose we live in a world where cell phone contracts and phone locking didn't exist. You say that there would then be no incentive for the carriers to subsidize the cost of the phone. This is true, but then, they would have no need to. A cell phone manufacturer would then need to make their phone affordable to consumers.

I believe that I have seen this strange world before. In this world, telephones have wires coming out of them and they plug into the wall. Seriously, we have to believe that this will come eventually, but the phone companies will fight it tooth and nail.

Re:Do you want to pay MSRP for phones? (1)

duranaki (776224) | more than 6 years ago | (#20958725)

I actually did pay MSRP for my phone. I wanted a better model and didn't want to adjust my contract (which I'm eagerly awaiting an end to.)

Ignoring handset cost issues, subsidies allow phone operators to control the phones they will and won't subsidize, meaning they get to strong arm manufacturers into crippling features they don't like or that compete with other revenue streams, or force them to implement features with goofy restrictions to force uses to pay money for things that ought to be free. Some quick examples: Nokia forced to make a non-Wifi version of a Series60 phone so the iPhone would sell better, Verizon forcing Motorola to disable bluetooth OBEX to force users to send pictures using their pay-service. I could go on.

Of course subsidy and contracts are two totally separate things. You can do away with subsidies and still offer value pricing if a customer will sign a contract to stay with the carrier for longer. Or to guarantee a fixed rate for their plan, like signing a lease on an apartment vs. renting month to month. I don't think those are particularly bad.

P.S. Resisting the temptation to go into the health care tangent.

Re:Do you want to pay MSRP for phones? (1)

Moridin42 (219670) | more than 6 years ago | (#20958871)

And yet option 2, to actually work, requires a critical mass of users that are perfectly willing to go without cell service at all rather than not receive discounted service when using a paid-for phone.

Right now, the choice is between owning a locked phone that was acquired cheaply, paying some month rate, or owning an unlocked phone acquired at high cost, paying the exact same monthly rate. Means the optimal choice, under current conditions, is to always change carriers at the end of your contract. At least, thats my analysis. New contracts get better deals than current customers. So I get better phones at lower prices (usually I get more in rebates than I pay out) by changing carriers than by sticking around. And since I"m going to pay a number portability fee regardless, I may as well port my number. I happen to like the carrier I have right now. Won't stop me from hopping to another carrier when the contract is up, though. There are 2 I absolutely won't use, ever. That still leaves me with 2 national carriers and a handful of regionals to pick from.

Oh.. I suppose I should note that this applies to the US cellular market. I have no idea if companies in other markets actually want to retain customers and show it in the rates or incentives offered to current customers. Or if other markets have number portability fees that show up as part of their monthly service fee.

Re:Do you want to pay MSRP for phones? (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 6 years ago | (#20959927)

"At the risk of starting an offtopic flamewar about medical insurance, the same thing is occuring there. When insurance covers you such that you only pay a $25 copay to see a doctor, you are shielded from the doctor charging you $500 for your 30 minute visit."

Geez...what Dr. do you see? I pay my own (no insurance) Dr...and it is approx. $90/office visit. Where do you pay $500/visit???

Re:Do you want to pay MSRP for phones? (1)

Chosen Reject (842143) | more than 6 years ago | (#20960069)

The last time I took my daughter in for vaccinations it came out to be nearly $750 for all the shots.

Re:Do you want to pay MSRP for phones? (1)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 6 years ago | (#20960381)

Don't get vaccinations at your doctor's office, then. Get them at your county health department, where you'll wait a bit, but the vaccines are typically $5-10 apiece. Doesn't change the fact that an office visit for an adult is typically around $100, nor the fact that many will be willing to negotiate lower rates with you in advance if you tell them you will be paying cash up front.

Re:Do you want to pay MSRP for phones? (1)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 6 years ago | (#20958193)

2 things bug me with the "termination fee". If its because they are subsidizing the contract, shouldn't the amount go down as the contract progresses? ie, if they discount $240 of the cost of the phone, with a 2 year contract, then after 1 year, should not the fee be $120 for leaving? Also, if you walk in with your own phone, you pay the same rate as someone with a "subsidized" phone. I would much rather they split the bill apart, ie, $30/month + $5/month for the phone usage..

Re:Do you want to pay MSRP for phones? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20958461)

Hell yes. The provider/manufacturer oligopoly is a huge ball and chain around the US cell phone market. Break them apart, and suddenly I'll be able to choose the phone I want and the network I want, and choose the pricing from each, without weird interactions between the two screwing with the prices, and without the huge incentive for the carriers to force me into unbelievably long contracts. In short, if there were no bundling, we'd pay less money and have better choices.

Re:Termination Fee? (1)

TemporalBeing (803363) | more than 6 years ago | (#20958775)

In theory, if we could buy unlocked phones more easily, we could then choose whatever carrier we want, adn would probably be less likely to pay the cancellation fee.
What, like from Motorola's MotoStore [motorola.com] , Nokia [nokiausa.com] (a little more problematic, but there seems to be some), Samsung (Open/Generic GSM [samsung.com] , Open/Generic CMDA [samsung.com] - ok, so there's no CDMA ones; they still list 'em as a possible). I'm sure other phone manufacturers have them too.

So...I guess the less is - go with a GSM carrier so you can get unlocked (open/Generic) phones directly from the manufacturer.

I'm getting ready to replace two cell phones and will be buying directly from the manufacturer (Motorola) and getting unlocked phones too, so I don't have to play these games. My current phones would have cost $80 that way - I got them on my first contract for $30 each. The phones I'm looking at are $100 and $140.

Honestly, I don't see much reason not to buy an unlocked phone any more, especially with the carriers being so stuck up as to not carry non-video/camera phones at all (despite some areas having a lot of businesses that won't allow video/camera phones). Little more costly, but I get exactly what I want.

Additionally, I'm in the middle of my "renewed" contract, so no help from the carrier is available any way. They only discount the phone (even if you are eligible for replacement) if you start a new contract.

Wrong company to pick on... (0, Flamebait)

Silicon_Knight (66140) | more than 6 years ago | (#20957557)

They really should sue AT&T/Cingular first. Those bastards NEVER let you unlock your phone - not even after your contract period is over. That is why I refuse to go with them. With T-Mobile at least I can get it unlocked at the end of the contract.

Re:Wrong company to pick on... (2, Informative)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 6 years ago | (#20957769)

you can get your Cingular /AT&T phone unlocked by them. you need to call the international support line and request help acting dumb. you want to travel overseas and use a forign GSM sim card. they will give you an unlock code.

In fact you can do this 5 months after you start your contract. I did it to my Razr that my daughter now has. Called up, lied to them, got the unlock code.

Or you can pay to get the phone unlocked at any competent cellphone dealer.

Re:Wrong company to pick on... (1)

Silicon_Knight (66140) | more than 6 years ago | (#20957897)

I guess I didn't try to act dumb enough. I flat out asked the sales guy if they unlock after contract is over. No. okay, what if I have to go overseas? "We provide roaming". You mean I can't use a local sim? "No".

That was about a year or so ago.

Re:Wrong company to pick on... (3, Insightful)

SIIHP (1128921) | more than 6 years ago | (#20958071)

"I flat out asked the sales guy..."

Ah yes, I think I see your problem.

Re:Wrong company to pick on... (4, Funny)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 6 years ago | (#20957947)

you need to call the international support line and request help acting dumb.

Me: Hello. Int'l support? Hi, could you help me to act dumb?
Int'l Support: I'm sorry sir, but you're already an AT&T customer. You've already shown that you can act dumb all by yourself.

Re:Wrong company to pick on... (1)

dotpavan (829804) | more than 6 years ago | (#20958019)

Called up, lied to them, got the unlock code.

this is for a piece/service that you PAID for! Seriously, the whole point of loving the customer (!) is to let the customer be free.. if their service is really that good (with least dropped calls, blah) then wouldnt I come back?

Re:Wrong company to pick on... (1)

WinterSolstice (223271) | more than 6 years ago | (#20958123)

I hate ATT, but the fact is you don't have to lie or act dumb. I had two phones (1 I bought full price, one subsidized) and all I had to do was call, tell them that I wanted the phones unlocked, pay the retail difference on the subsidized one (about $60) and it was fine.

It did take about a week to get the call back with the unlock code, but they didn't give me any real grief.

Re:Wrong company to pick on... (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 6 years ago | (#20959673)

AT&T has a web page where you enter your phone number and IMEI number, and a week later, they email you the unlock code. I did it a few weeks ago to get my T616 unlocked in preparation for getting my iPhone. I did this for two reasons: 1. it was locked to an old AT&T "Blue" SIM, and thus wouldn't work with the iPhone's AT&T/Cingular "Orange" SIM. 2. I'm going to Europe next summer and needed to have an unlocked phone anyway.

Re:Wrong company to pick on... (1)

tchuladdiass (174342) | more than 6 years ago | (#20957791)

You can also get an unlock code within the first 3 (or is it 6?) months of the contract. Just tell them you are planning a trip over seas, and you need to be able to use a local sim card. At least that used to be their policy, don't know if it has changed recently.

Re:Wrong company to pick on... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20958093)

They really should sue AT&T/Cingular first. Those bastards NEVER let you unlock your phone - not even after your contract period is over. That is why I refuse to go with them. With T-Mobile at least I can get it unlocked at the end of the contract.

A locked phone is the least of my TTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT/Cingular problems. I'm looking for a new provider; I'm using one of those expensive "minute phones" now.

First was the phone; I dropped it in the toilet. It worked after rinsing and drying, but got hot and drained the battery so I replaced it under its insurance. They promptly cancelled the insurance because I'd had the previous one stolen by one of my girlfriends [slashdot.org] last year. Getting the pictures out was a royal PITA; a data cable from Motorola was $50 (for a $100 Razr), so I had to email all the pics, 3 at a time.

Then 18T bought out Cingular. Now, in 3 years of using Cingular I'd not once gone over my minutes, and every month I got a detailed statement showing who I called, who called me, and how long. My bill was fifty bucks a month less change, without fail. Then as soon as assfuc..er, "ATT" bought them out, I no longer got a detailed statement; they detailed data use (fifteen bucks for the pictures) but no details on the voice useage, and all of a sudden I'd used up all my minutes and gone over! The bill for that month was $150! I went to the local pigfu... er "ATT" store where I bought the phone, and got nothing but a runaround.

Then the next bill came - FOUR HUNDRED MOTHERFUCKING DOLLARS for a month's use! I didn't use it any more than I ever had. Then they promptly shut the damned thing off for nonpayment.

The next month the babyraping sons of bitchwhores tacked on another $150 FOR A PHONE THEY HAD SHUT OFF! Including taxes charged on use they didn't provide! Maybe I can get the corpowhorats put in prison for tax fraud...

May each and every one of their corporate officers join Sony [mcgrew.info] in hell! [holy-bible.us]

-mcgrew

Re:Wrong company to pick on... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20961265)

Corporate f*cks living it large at your expense whilst using the system that's meant to be there to protect you, to keep you in place..

I feel your pain.

America welcome to the 21st Century (0, Troll)

Marcion (876801) | more than 6 years ago | (#20957563)

Start with Phone unlocking, then maybe abolish software patents, then you could even think about giving healthcare to every American...

Re:America welcome to the 21st Century (0, Troll)

Nilych (959204) | more than 6 years ago | (#20958941)

What makes you think every American deserves such things, especially healthcare?

As an American, and having many ties within DCS and other public services, I'm not convinced everyone deserves free healthcare.

Re:America welcome to the 21st Century (1)

Marcion (876801) | more than 6 years ago | (#20960549)

>What makes you think every American deserves such things, especially healthcare?

As a European I would argue in terms of a human right to healthcare.

However, accepting your point for a moment, that some people 'deserve' and some don't deserve healthcare, on what basis would you make such a decisions? Merely on the ability to pay seems a bit inefficient. After all, there must be a normal distribution of diggheads within the rich, and they are getting healthcare.

Re:America welcome to the 21st Century (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20960859)

Explain this...who doesn't deserve free health care?

I am stuck with T-Mobile (3, Funny)

berashith (222128) | more than 6 years ago | (#20957569)

and I hope they lose.

My phone has all kinds of interesting features, that are locked out. The phone could do these things, but tmobile places false restrictions on the features. Why does the network access break when a java app is activated? ... because then they couldn't nail me for the full internet plan while I check email.

By the time I learned about the feature locks (and the + $50 it would cost to turn them on) I was already in the contract. I tried flashing the phone, but magically got bounced from the net until it got flashed back. The phone connected for a time, so I had not removed something to allow connections.

Re:I am stuck with T-Mobile (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20958873)

This case has NOTHING to do with whether features are restricted on your phone. It is about phones being locked so that only T-Mobile SIMs will work in them. If you've tried flashing your phone and it didn't work, then you probably did something wrong, because many, many other T-Mobile customers have flashed their phones to activate features.

T-Mobile unlocks during contract too (4, Insightful)

lysacor (237887) | more than 6 years ago | (#20957597)

I have a T-Mobile MDA, and they had absolutely no problem unlocking the phone for me prior to me making an international trip so I could use a competing network. I don't understand why some of these people are trying to sue for that, T-Mobile is going to have some much evidence to the contrary that their case will likely be found without merit (IANAL).

As far as the 200 dollar disconnect fee, I don't agree with that with any carrier, and some use it as a bludgeoning stick to keep people continuing their service under the threat of "breach of contract".

Cellular service should be something someone can walk into, pay their bill, and walk out of without any fear of reprisal as long as they paid their bills in full.

-The Cake is a Lie!

Re:T-Mobile unlocks during contract too (1, Redundant)

bostons1337 (1025584) | more than 6 years ago | (#20957767)

I am going to have to disagree with your opinion against early termination fees. Ya they suck, trust me the last thing I want to do is dish out $200 for leaving a service. However you signed the contract and therefore agreed to it. If people could walk in and out of phone services whenever they pleased the phone companies would be hurt real bad financially. Who cares you might say? That means higher monthly fees on average and forget about getting any kind of deal on phones they provide like the get this phone free when you sign up for 1 - 2 years. Just do your research on the companies and don't be too quick to sign the contract, thats the best way to never pay an early termination fee.

Re:T-Mobile unlocks during contract too (2, Insightful)

Chosen Reject (842143) | more than 6 years ago | (#20958303)

Holy shallow-view, Batman! Do you really think the cell phone company is eating the cost of your phone? Do you honestly believe that you don't pay an extra penny or more per month to help pay for your phone? Do you honestly think that if you could walk away from a lousy company to go to another that the first company wouldn't try to improve, either through better service or lower prices? Do you really think that phone manufacturers aren't already raising the prices of their phones knowing that the cell companies are going to subsidize the costs (and will do so through your monthly payments)?

There is no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Cell phone contracts force you into bad service with a locked phone that you _will_ pay full price for anyway, but an even higher full price than if the "subsidy" didn't exist.

Re:T-Mobile unlocks during contract too (3, Insightful)

jriding (1076733) | more than 6 years ago | (#20958419)

I disagree with this. Look at the land line phone companies. I can get the local provider and have it for 3 months and decide to change it to my local "cable" provider and not have an early cancellation fee. If you have done this then you notice that as soon as someone comes out with a better cheaper deal you switch. Or your provider comes out with a competitive service.. No extra costs are sent to the individuals because of incurred costs. This is something every provider states but in area's where there is competition the prices drop and the services go up. An example of this is I used to have Road Runner cable service. Everest came into the area and magically our roadrunner service price was dropped by half while they still offered more bundled and better service. I still went with everest because they not only offered internet but cable tv as well as phone service for a lower price. When there was only Roadrunner or if I had to pay 300$ to get out of a contract with roadrunner they have no incentive to increase my service.

Re:T-Mobile unlocks during contract too (1)

lysacor (237887) | more than 6 years ago | (#20959117)

I respect your opinion on the matter, and I do agree that others do not undertake the research necessary before signing cellular contracts. I for one do read the contracts line for line, and have the cellular agent (usually a retailer) provide me a second and a third copy of the contract to ensure that I always have a copy of the original terms of my service on hand.

The phone companies in the US honestly wouldn't hurt as bad as we think without 200 term fee. I could be wrong, but considering the relatively slow pace of advancement with most cellular carriers in the US, one could surmise that the excess income could be applied to enhancing their services, or at least giving their customers a fair shake.

Now I will not demonize the entire industry, there is a reason for the contracts. However the bottom line is if you are going to keep your customer base, you don't keep them in line with a fee, you keep them enthralled with fantastic service.

I do appreciate constructive criticism of any comment I have though!

Re:T-Mobile unlocks during contract too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20957987)

It can be... I use Virgin Mobile. Sure the phones suck, but no contracts! T-Mobile also offers a prepaid phone service. Although not as cheap as Virgin's, it does have the advantage of being able to buy a better GSM phone for it. Too bad Virgin uses Sprint's CDMA network.

All I know is, I refuse to sign a two year contract just to have a cell phone!

Re:T-Mobile unlocks during contract too (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 6 years ago | (#20959895)

As far as the 200 dollar disconnect fee, I don't agree with that with any carrier, and some use it as a bludgeoning stick to keep people continuing their service under the threat of "breach of contract".
The termination itself isn't a bad thing - you agree to it when you sign up. What I find particularly annoying is this (AT&T): when you are six months away from the end of your new contract, you become "eligible" to upgrade your phone - and at a great discount, of course. It just so happens that to receive that discount, you need to sign up for /another/ two year plan.

By itself, that's a little sleazy but not unreasonable. It's not like they make it a secret. WHat makes it fairly despicable, though, is that most modern phones after 1.5 years are on the verge of falling apart. So your choices become: terminate early and pay a huge fee to switch carriers; pay full price for a phone; or take the 'easy' choice and pay a discount rate, signing up for another two years.

Re:T-Mobile unlocks during contract too (1)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 6 years ago | (#20960151)

It makes perfect sense and its not entirely unfair. They have set up the business model such that you essentially getting the phone on credit and paying for it by paying a more then they otherwise would charge for the service each month. If you want to leave you have to pay off the loan.

What's unfair is,

1. They don't give you much of a price break if you do own your phone or pay full price for it.

2. The early termination fee is not discounted in anyway over time, they charge the same if you cancel a day early as if you cancel a year early.

3. The early termination fee is often in great excess of the original value of the phone.

I don't have a complaint against the business model. I think its as good an approach as any. My complaints is with the implementation they chose. If they did something to address / fix these things then I would say its pretty fair.

Huh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20957611)

Let me get this correct. You terminate YOUR contract. Right?? Remember you signed a contact saying that you WILL BE charged a fee if you cancel early. You bought a phone that works for only T-Mobil or let me rephrase... a phone that it is designed to work for t-Mobil and only. (what someone CAN DO and is LET do are two different things when it comes to unlocking phones)

I do not go buy a Mac and expect to be allowed to install windows on it (I said Windows because some versions of Linux will run on a mac). Then I do not bitch when my computer does not work any more. So I should try that right? Get a mac install windows, but I will get a PPC mac maybe an old G4 and try and get windows on it. Maybe make a hardware modification. Then bitch to Apple to support me. If they do not I will sue them.

For slashdot if it is Linux, or fighting against companies trying to make money you are all for it. You must all be teachers. Just wait till you get fucked in the ass when you have your own company and some slasdotter fucks you over because you did not support him taking your product apart.

Re:Huh (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 6 years ago | (#20957833)

a phone that it is designed to work for t-Mobil and only.

That in of itself is fallacy. A CDMA phone will work on CDMA networks, GSM on GSM, (and assuming you're within whatever bandwidth the phone supports). Phones are network independent and not really designed for one company*

*For the sake of argument I'm conveniently leaving out all the fancy dandy special features like 3G or whatever other bullshit that networks may offer on TOP of that, but that's more comparing feature sets rather than base functionality. Phone calls are phone calls.

Personally, I don't see why I can't unlock my phone even it I stay within the contract. Who cares if I get myself a SIM for some other network while still paying my current network?

Re:Huh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20957971)

Fine you bought it FROM that company FOR that company. I could see if you bought it direct from Lucent or Motorola but you bought it from that company. So deal with it. You got fucked in the ass.

Re:Huh (1)

stewardwildcat (1009811) | more than 6 years ago | (#20959357)

I was under the impression while I had T-Mobile and AT&T that I could buy an unlocked phone at any time but if I bought the locked version it was 50% cheaper than the unlocked version. Now when I called and asked for my unlock codes I never had a problem getting them. I used my T-Mobile phone with AT&T for a long time because it was a better phone.

Also if you are having a problem with your service and the phone company is giving you grief and you want out of it. The Better Business Bureau is your best friend. I sent an email to Cingular through the BBB and with in a 3 week period I recieved a call from the presidents office of Cingular with a message that my plan was terminated and I could pay month to month for as long as I wanted. This was 3 months into a 2 year contract. I cancelled in the next few months because I couldnt talk on the phone at home. They never asked for any fees or even the phone back. I agree all phones shuold be unlocked but I have never experienced any problems with it. If you are paying for 3 different cell carriers I ask you WHY? Unless you really need it or have a really nice expensive phone that you are taking international why do you need to switch back and forth between companies every day in the US?

High time (5, Insightful)

sufijazz (889247) | more than 6 years ago | (#20957643)

It's high time the American mobile phone market is made more open and interoperable.

In GSM-dominated countries, swapping phone service has got nothing to do with your mobile phone. You just remove your SIM-card and put in another one. Conversely, when you buy a new phone, you just put your old SIM card in it and you're done.

The rationale for a termination fee is usually that handsets are subsidized. But a better solution is for the FCC to open up the industry so that there is a separate market for mobile handsets. This will give customers more options to buy handsets that they know will work with any carrier, and competition in the mobile handset market will bring prices down.

Carriers can still offer subsidies on handsets with contract termination restrictions - but users will then opt for it willingly - ignoring the option of other available handsets.

Re:High time (1)

Library Spoff (582122) | more than 6 years ago | (#20959169)

Sorry this isn't true - Not in the UK anyway.
I have been on 02, t-mobile and Orange networks.
ALL have locked handsets to their networks, ALL wanted money to unlock even after the contract period was
up.
The latest of these was Orange two nights ago who wanted £20 to unlock a k800i after 14 months on a 12 month contract.

The DaVinci boys are gonna get my money instead...

T-mobile does unlock (1)

modemboy (233342) | more than 6 years ago | (#20957671)

Hmmm, I have always had success getting t-mobile to provide a free unlock code, AT&T as well. AFAIK both companies have a policy of providing unlock codes for free after 90 days service. Just call customer service. The 90 days is reasonable IMHO so people don't rip them off with the contract discounts. Never had a problem doing this to probably 5 or more phones now...

Unlocking Still Locked Up in the US (5, Interesting)

DECS (891519) | more than 6 years ago | (#20957731)

This is kind of stupid. Even if all the major US carriers were prevented from locking phones to their network, it would only open the market between T-Mobile and AT&T, and separately between Sprint and Verizon Wireless. Both use totally different networks (GSM vs CDMA2000), so nothing would be open.

Further, as 3G rolls out, T-Mobile and AT&T's versions of UTMS totally incompatible, meaning that their next generation of phone will be naturally locked to a single provider. They didn't do that on purpose, there just isn't available bandwidth in the US to share the same band.

The real solution--rather than enriching attorneys to raise frivolous lawsuits that won't accomplish anything--is to open up the TV spectrum and insist that it actually be open, as Google has been pushing for. That would rapidly obsolesce the existing mobile networks however, leaving them open for replacement as well. Verizon/Sprint/AT&T have spent billions building out old fashioned 2.5/3G mobile service, and aren't excited about the prospect of having it all thrown in the trash can.

How AT&T Picked Up the iPhone: A Brief History of Mobiles [roughlydrafted.com]

Re:Unlocking Still Locked Up in the US (1)

techpawn (969834) | more than 6 years ago | (#20957879)

This is why Two different versions of the Blackberry Pearl had to be released. One for CDMA and one for GSM and even if you where able to get them unlocked I don't think it would be possible to take your AT&T Pearl to VZW and get it activated to their network.

Re:Unlocking Still Locked Up in the US (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 6 years ago | (#20959689)

No, it's different. Verizon and AT&T run completely different network protocols (CDMA and GSM, respectively). With T-Mobile and AT&T moving to UTMS for higher wireless speeds, it's the same protocol, but the frequencies used by both companies are in completely different bands.

In the future, it may not matter (just as there are quad-band GSM phones now, so they work anywhere), but in the beginning, you'll probably be tied to one carrier or the other, simply because of the slice of frequencies they were handed.

Re:Unlocking Still Locked Up in the US (1)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | more than 6 years ago | (#20958805)

Heh, I wondered where you've been. You guys have been sparse in all those threads about Apple screwing over the jailbreakers and unlockers and whatnot.

So that's the new spin to cover Apple's sin? Unlocking doesn't matter because of technology fragmentation?

God forbid people learn that there is no natural reason for them buy their phone from the same people selling the service. It's not like that might influence the direction of the carriers, if the neutrality of GSM caused people to resist the change to 3G.

Yes, since it's a lost cause, let's embrace the wireless future that looks like AOL and Prodigy and Minitel, and not the Internet. Technology doesn't matter, it's all about the company logo on the side.

Re:Unlocking Still Locked Up in the US (1)

DECS (891519) | more than 6 years ago | (#20960203)

Then you'll enjoy my disassembly of Microsoft Shill Mike Elgan:

Arrogance Unleashed: The Foul Stench of Computerworld's Mike Elgan [roughlydrafted.com] , where I point out not only the buffoonery of Elgan, but also the simpleton arguments that claim Apple has "bricked" phones and persecuted iPhone users by offering a security and feature update.

"While the philosophical debate over whether Apple should open the iPhone to third party development is interesting, the underlying technical grounds for disabling third party software can not be argued around. All of the unauthorized third party software developed for the iPhone relied upon exploiting buffer overruns. These were significant security flaws that could just as easily allow attack vectors to malicious coders. Apple had an obligation to its users to patch these cracks.

"However, Apple left the iPhone update an optional install. It did not roll out an automatic update that users could not shut off, as Microsoft does with its Windows XP and Vista software update. Apple also did not ban any equipment it found violating its terms of service, as Microsoft does when it permanently bans Xbox 360 users suspected of installing hacks to their console firmware from accessing its online Xbox Live services, or as it unintentionally did when its WGA system went down and legitimate XP and Vista users were locked down with a reduced feature set on suspicion of software piracy."

[...]

"Perhaps he doesn't understand that the iPhone isn't a small PC, but rather a series of at least three independent embedded processors, including a baseband cellular radio subsystem and the ARM processors running the OS X operating system.

"Each of these systems has its own firmware, and that firmware has to be in a known state in order to load software properly. When hackers dig through the system, they can overrun memory buffers until part of the system resets, then feed it replacement code to allow themselves further access into the system. This works very much like a biological virus, which inserts its own DNA code into cells to force them to perform other tasks. Like viruses, these break ins complicate how the host system works in complex ways.

"No computer or device makers can offer to support a PC or mobile device running with tampered firmware. For example, Microsoft doesn't guarantee that Windows will load properly on a system that does not work as originally designed after unsupported hacks are made to its BIOS. For Elgan to perform his theatrics about how Apple is abusing its customers with a "cold slap in the face" is simply a matter of intellectual dishonesty, hypocrisy, and grosteque ignorance."

Re:Unlocking Still Locked Up in the US (1)

sufijazz (889247) | more than 6 years ago | (#20959295)

it would only open the market between T-Mobile and AT&T, and separately between Sprint and Verizon Wireless. Both use totally different networks (GSM vs CDMA2000), so nothing would be open.
This is not true. Infact this is the perfect market opportunity for Dual mode phones [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Unlocking Still Locked Up in the US (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 6 years ago | (#20959947)

This is kind of stupid. Even if all the major US carriers were prevented from locking phones to their network, it would only open the market between T-Mobile and AT&T, and separately between Sprint and Verizon Wireless. Both use totally different networks (GSM vs CDMA2000), so nothing would be open.

Not true. There are dozens of MVNOs that use each of these technologies within the U.S. In addition, for GSM phones, unlocked phones can be used with local SIM cards when traveling to Europe, Canada, Mexico, etc.

There are lots of very strong arguments for mandating that cellular phones be unlocked (with an exception granted to allow locking of subsidized pay-per-minute phones since those don't have a contract with early termination fees to reclaim the cost of the phone). I don't see this happening, of course, since the telecoms pretty much own the U.S. government last time I checked, but I can dream....

About damn time. (-1, Redundant)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 6 years ago | (#20957749)

I pay they win and set precedent to force all cellphone companies to stop this horrible crap. they have NO LEGITIMATE RIGHT to lock cellphones and charge termination fees. Pick one.

They claim they have to charge the termination fee because of the phone was sold below cost and you are paying for it during the term. Fine, give me a 100% unlocked phone then instead of forcing me to pay an extra $45.00 to get it unlocked by a local unlocker. (Which the phone company will lie to you and say unlocking is illegal.)

Cellphone companies know they suck badly. and they have to try this crap to force you to stay with them.

Re:About damn time. (1)

SIIHP (1128921) | more than 6 years ago | (#20958239)

"Fine, give me a 100% unlocked phone then instead of forcing me to pay an extra $45.00 to get it unlocked by a local unlocker. (Which the phone company will lie to you and say unlocking is illegal.)"

As others have said, this is not accurate. T-mobile is well known for unlocking phones on request, and AT&T did it for me after 90 days (not sure if that's the case anymore, but others seem to say that it is).

I don't know when (if) you dealt with them, but your objections are not currently valid.

Re:About damn time. (2, Insightful)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 6 years ago | (#20958325)

Look carefully. T-Mobile will sell you a phone at 'retail'. And yes, you will have to ask to have that one unlocked, because they don't inventory unlocked phones. And they'll unlock it immediately, after you jump through the flaming hoop of fire, 'cause you don't have a contract with them for the phone.

Then you can buy a contract with whoever, even T-Mobile.

I really don't quite get the hoohah over this locking thing. In Europe, you buy unlocked phones, and pay quite a bit more. And it's yours. Here, most carriers wanna lock you into some contract, and they subsidize the phone cost to do that. I know that if I want a new Blackberry, I can buy one unlocked for $299 and up, or extend my contract and get one for $199 or something. The value proposition is obvious to me.

T-Mobile unlocked my 7105t without trouble after my contract completed. I even get my contract for about as long as I want, which is nice cause to start a new one will cost me more $ for the same services. I may change to another carrier, but right now nothing in GSM looks that much better.

And I'm disppointed that UMTS is going to be fractured. Never fails, interoperability is always trouble. I'm hopeful that T-Mobile and ATT will resolve this, but it may be as much about data roaming as anything. Imagine the problems if the iPhone 2.0 is UMTS, and people buy them where ATT is not the carrier. Roaming most of the time will open them to surcharges and complaints.

And just in case you weren't listening, the US ain't Europe. Over there, they value choice and freedom, and are willing to pay for it. Are we willing to pay for it also?

Re:About damn time. (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 6 years ago | (#20959743)

I'm hoping for chipsets that support both bands for UTMS (T-mobile an AT&T) as well as the inclusion of Wi-Fi chipsets, to support T-Mobile's GSM over IP technology. I just got the new Blackberry Curve from them with the Wi-Fi chipset built in, and it's quite cool to be in a basement with no GSM signal and only Wi-Fi signal, and I'm still able to make/receive calls, emails, etc.

Unlocking a phone you don't own? (0, Flamebait)

Russ Nelson (33911) | more than 6 years ago | (#20958197)

Why should you be allowed to unlock a phone that you don't own yet? Most carriers in the USA provide a rent-to-own phone for you. Until you've paid the entire cost of the phone, why should you be allowed to walk away from the payments WITH the phone? I don't understand this desire. It's NOT YOUR PHONE until you've gone two years (or whatever) under payments.

Why is "rent-to-own" so hard to understand?

Re:Unlocking a phone you don't own? (2, Informative)

JustNiz (692889) | more than 6 years ago | (#20958537)

Wrong.

You are given an offer to purchase the phone at a discounted rate on the basis that you also agree to a fixed term contract.
If you buy the phone, its yours from day 1.
The issue is that nearly all cell carriers advertise phones with the OEM's model number. If you go to the manufacturers website to look at specs you get misinformed because most carriers actually disable functionality already in the phone so they can force you into buying their services.

For example my phone can actually play any MP3 as a ringtone, however when you buy it from Cingular/AT&T they have disabled that feature with a software lock so you are forced to either use the crappy default tones or buy (only) their ringtones at inflated prices through their online service.

Re:Unlocking a phone you don't own? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20958557)

Show me the term in the contract where it states that the phone is actually rent-to-own.

The fact that we're paying below cost for the phone which is then made up by the price of service is insufficient. That's the carrier's choice. We gave them money, they gave us a phone; in the eyes of the law, that phone is now our property. For it to be different, the service contract must include explicit terms stating that the initial cost is actually a down payment and spell out the terms of the rent-to-own agreement. To my knowledge this is not done, therefore the phone is ours from day one.

You do own the phone. (But you're under contract) (1)

ChaosDiscord (4913) | more than 6 years ago | (#20958989)

Most carriers in the USA provide a rent-to-own phone for you.

Close, but no cigar. You do in fact own the phone they sold you (or even gave you for free). It's not a rental. You aren't making payments on the phone. If you break your contract, you don't need to return the phone to them. Indeed, if you walk into a store and ask to return the phone and break your contract, they'll laugh at you. They won't want the phone back. However, they will (unhappily) terminate your service and charge you the fee.

You are under contract, and the contract says there is an early termination fee. If you break the contract, you pay the fee. While the fee is designed to replace the cost of the subsidized phone, it's not a loan nor a payment, it's just a term of the contract.

Thus, you're perfectly free to do whatever you like with your phone, including unlocking it. Of course, they're under no obligation to let you keep using your modified phone on their network.

profit (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20958267)

1.) Sign long term contract
2.) Get free phone
3.) Cancel long term contract without paying termination fee
4.) Sell unlocked phone
5.) Profit

Re:profit (1)

interval1066 (668936) | more than 6 years ago | (#20959729)

Ok, but there's nothing wrong with: 1.) Sign long term contract 2.) Get free phone 3.) Proceed to end of contract 4.) Use unlocked phone I now legally own with other carrier should I wish 5.) Live happy life w/iPhone

Apple? (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 6 years ago | (#20958765)

And Apple's world headquarters is located where?

Alternative Solution for GSM Networks (1)

duplo1 (719988) | more than 6 years ago | (#20960511)

One solution to the entire unlocking business is to buy an unbranded phone from the start. While one pays a premium for the phone, none of the features are locked by the carrier and one is free to use the phone overseas.

Of course it's more difficult to buy unbranded CDMA phones, but it's probably possible.

About Bloody Time (1)

EEPROMS (889169) | more than 6 years ago | (#20960683)

Locking a phone that has been purchased in full then terminating a users account and charging them "again" must be the most anti-capitalist/competitive thing ever thought up. I would put this on par with Dell cutting a deal with Microsoft then forcing its users to only be able to visit set websites that have huge markups on common services and if the user decides to use swap to lets say an Apple setup they get charged to do so even though they own the hardware. Oh look I used Apple and anti-competitive in the same paragraph, strange that.
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