I have an old Nokia 3120 phone that was retired last fall for a Motorola Flipside. This month, I had need to give the old phone to an elderly relative visiting from overseas. So I call AT&T to help unlock the phone so that I can insert a T-Mobile prepaid SIM. To be clear, this phone is NOT in use and is NOT under any contract now.
It can take up to 10 days for AT&T to provide an unlock code.
Once the message was received, I was unable to unlock the phone with the code provided. (I have unlocked phones before, so I am not unfamiliar). The e-mailed instructions said after 5 incorrect attempts the phone would be locked. Well, I tried 4 times, which I should not have done, BUT I was trying to be certain I was entering it carefully.
I called AT&T for help. They verified my information and said the code they gave me was from a generator program provided by Nokia. They said I needed to talk to Nokia to determine why the code didn't work. So they transfer me to Nokia.
Fourth strike (yeah, I know, baseball doesn't work this way!):
Nokia tells me that they don't provide unlock codes to customers. They say to call AT&T back to initiate a 3-way call so that AT&T can authorize the release of the code.
Called AT&T back. The rep confirms my information, but tells me that I need to mis-enter the code to the fifth time after which I will be prompted for an additional password that he will provide me. I tell him about the 5-try warning. He tells me not to worry. So I follow his instructions and try again with the code from the e-mail. Now I'm being told the phone is locked (I forget the exact wording). So now it's time for the magical extra code. He puts me on hold for a while, but comes back and tells me there is NO such code. He'd made a mistake.
So I ask to talk to a supervisor. She confirms that there is NO extra code. My phone is now permanently married to AT&T. So I ask her what she will do for me since the AT&T person was the one who told me to continue putting in unlock codes.
I told her I'd accept any old unlocked GSM phone, a refurb, anything that worked. She said she can't provide anything. She said there's nothing she can do to help. And nobody else at AT&T I can talk to.
Look, this phone was not worth much, but it still bothers me that following THEIR advice has put me into an adverse sitation. And now they wash their hands of the entire incident.
These events will become more commonplace as the number of national providers falls from 4 to 3 and I'm sure eventually to 2. Then it'll just be a choice between the red devil and the blue devil.
I'd encourage everyone to contact the FCC and your congress people to oppose the AT&T - T Mobile merger.