The other day, I was in the T-Mobile store and a customer was drilling the associate with questions due to falling victim to Craigslist scam where someone sold him a phone for ~$600 (never said what phone that was) but he couldn’t activate it due to the phone having a bad IMEI or in other words it’s linked to a bad account. The associate was constantly apologizing for the customers bad luck and referred him to customer service so that they can sort it out cause the stores are not setup to handle those issues. The issue being how honest customers are treated when they’re sold a phone with a bad ESN/IMEI.
Now even though this situation is no one but the scammer’s fault, I have a huge problem with the way the carriers handle it. It seems to me that honest customers are punished twice over by being sold a bad phone but also punished again by the carriers who literally just refuse to do anything about it till the customer goes through even more trouble to remove the phone from the bad account which in most situations simply will not happen. This is not a T-Mobile specific problem. Verizon, ATT, and Sprint along with other carriers also have this problem as well. If you buy a phone with a bad ESN/IMEI or that’s connected to a suspended account, you’re screwed out of money and time.
I propose that carriers take a good look at this situation and come up with a few methods to quickly get someone who’s bought a bad phone back on the right track. Like allowing the stores to log the bad ESN/IMEI into a database, pull that sticker off the phone or mark it out somehow then print a fresh one for the customer and place that on the phone now that it’s in the hands of someone has gone 6 months to a year with no problem on their account. Obviously, my idea has some holes but it’s nothing that can’t be ironed out in short time by someone who’s paid way more than me. Yes, it would be great to start a fresh account with a bad esn phone bought from wherever and not be blocked but that’s simply unrealistic cause there would be no way for the carrier to know you’re a good customer and not someone trying to screw them over which is why I said 6 months to a year.
If you’re going make a purchase through Craigslist or any online site, message the seller for the ESN/IMEI of the phone then call your local official carrier store to have the number ran through the system to make sure it’s clean. Right now, that’s the only method to avoiding this happening to you. Even if the seller states “Clean ESN” doesn’t mean it is. You need to double check and triple check for your money’s sake. Some people have reported that if you use a bad/blocked phone on a network other than the one it was blocked on than it will work but this is not confirmed and some people have even reported having issues further down the road after they thought they were safe.
Bottom line, we(customers) need to be more careful when making phone purchases anywhere but the official store but there’s no reason for carriers to be so strict on someone who does get scammed as to make it seem as if it’s their fault. It’s like they’re forgetting that the whole point of a scam is to make it difficult to know that you’re being scammed till it’s too late. We need faster, easier methods to handle this problem cause it certainly isn’t going away. If you have some thoughts on this please shout them out in the comments!