Instructions to unlock an IPhone purchased through AT&T
What to expect if you meet AT&T's requirements for unlocking a phone and you attempt to do it:
Prepare to spend many hours over the course of many days and weeks on AT&T website, myAT&T app and AT&T customer service phone number trying to use the procedures AT&T provides for requesting an unlock. On the website, if you click the link which they did not allow to be posted here, it will just spin for hours. In your myAT&T app on your device, you will figure out the 10 or 12 inscrutable steps you need to take to get to the unlock request page, there you will be promised an email that will be delivered upon which you must take action on within 24 hours or it will "expire". This email will never arrive. But you WILL get an email 24 hours later that says "sorry your 24 hours are up". You will repeat this several times using different email addresses with the same result. And you will feel like you are being cheated, lied to, and taken advantage of. Then you will start calling the customer service number because what else can you do? They will say "did you check your spam folder?" and you will say in response, "I have a masters degree in computer science with honors from an Ivy League school and in spite of that I managed to find the email saying that the 24 hours are up so I am confident that I would have found the important original email if you actually had sent it, which it appears most likely was never sent". Then you will be told by customer service staff with Phillipino/a accents and names like "Dan" and "Mark" and "Julia" and "Sheila" and "Jay" in chat rooms and phone calls that you meet all requirements for unlocking your phone and they will guarantee you that your phone will be unlocked. You will spend 2-8 hours on the phone on multiple occasions just to get this far in the process. When you finally talk to "Julia" after many hours of chats and holds and conversations with various AT&T employees, she will cheerfully and helpfully offer to "expedite" the process by sending you another email in 48 hours. She will guarantee that you qualify for unlocking and your phone will definitely be unlocked. Then you will wait another 48 hours until you receive an email that contains this decision:
Thank you for contacting AT&T about unlocking your mobile device
Looks like we can’t unlock your device just yet. Try your unlock request again after you’ve had your device for at least 60 days.
This is a requirement you have never seen before and are not included in the requirements AT&T provides on their website which can be found here but are pasted below for your convenience:
- Have a device that isn’t reported lost, stolen, or involved with fraud.
- If you purchased your device with an installment or term agreement:
- Have active service for at least 60 days.
- Complete your contract (including paying any early termination fees). Or, pay off your installment agreement at least 24 hours before your unlock request.
- No past due or unpaid balance.
- Confirm that your device isn’t active on another AT&T account.
- Wait 14 days after an upgrade to unlock your old device if you upgraded early. Or, wait 30 days if you have a business account.
- Verify your AT&T PREPAIDSM device has been active for at least 6 months, if applicable.
- Submit an unlock request, if you’re on active duty. After you submit a request, we’ll ask for your temporary or permanent change of station (TCS or PCS military documents). You don’t have to complete your installment agreement or contracts to be eligible to unlock your device.
- Get your company’s permission to unlock your business-owned device, if applicable
You will meet all of these requirements or they will be not applicable in your case. But you will still not be able to get assistance from AT&T in this matter.
Here are some helpful FAQs that I hope will help anyone who stumbles across this post:
Should I buy a phone through AT&T? (not unless you want to spend days hours weeks on phone and AT&T website when you want to unlock it, and you will want to unlock it. I would recommend Verizon. Verizon phones are always unlocked regardless of what the day of the year is or whether you have paid for the phone)
Is AT&T customer service responsive? (you will call many many times and spend up to 90 minutes on hold per call until someone picks up, then they will guarantee that they will help you, after which the instructions provided will not work and promises made will not be honored and you find yourself calling back and starting all over again)
Is it difficult to get an AT&T purchased phone unlocked? (so far, it appears to be impossible)