This is the story of me and my blacklisted iPhone. I never intended to become the owner of an iphone, it happened almost by chance. In August a family member found that her Samsung smart phone had a very short battery life, so she and I looked for a second hand iPhone. The going rate on eBay seemed just beyond affordable, so when a Vodafone handset came up (tied phones are slightly cheaper) we bid for and bought it.
Now our experience of eBay has been pretty good. As a vendor I have made a lot of sales to far flung places including Eastern Europe and Kalamazoo in the USA. As a purchaser I have generally been lucky. My laptop is a much better model than I would have bought new, coming in at half price from auction, and still going strong after four years. My choice of phone ( Nokia N95), also half price from eBay, I have just discovered does not bounce! Hence the need for a replacement.
So in August we bought from eBay, paid for and took delivery of an iPhone which worked perfectly. The vendor, Paul, got full feedback marks from us. In mid November however, it stopped working. Vodafone suggested that the fault might lie with the old sim card and supplied a new one, but this was not the problem. Some further investigation revealed that that the phone's IMEI number had been blocked, I.e. It had been blacklisted. What with Christmas and all we have only just got round to following it up, and have collected quite a bit more information.
One of the main sources of my information is a lady in a Vodafone call centre. Not only did she take the time to listen to my story, she took the trouble to appreciate the problem, she emailed the stolen department at Vodafone, and called me back to tell me of the result. Her contribution to this is exemplary. If everyone in a call centre showed her commitment to customer satisfaction, I guess two things would happen. One, customers would be happy. Two, call centres would go out of business.
Another valuable source of information is this blog by Paul Clarke my phone's been blacklisted
written by a self confessed public service process obsessive which identifies several bodies of whose existence I knew nothing.Checkmend
- This is an organisation which runs a website where, for £1.99, you can get a report on the status of phones, bikes, laptops etc which have serial numbers
I also got quite a lot of information from Paul, the person who sold me the phone. I think I would have got a lot more but Paul actually spoke (he and I have only ever communicated by emails) to the phone's original user, Leo, the person who bought it from Vodafone. I think Leo has had quite a lot to do with Paul's current stance, which is not to tell me anything more.
So, In reverse chronological order the phone's life history is
- Now - it is in my possession, blacklisted on Vodafone and unable to make or receive phone calls
- Mid-November 2010 - the blacklist came into effect - the publicly stated target is for the blacklist to come into effect within 48 hours of being reported
- Prior to mid-November (I can't tell how long before) someone who has the authority to do so reported the phone lost or stolen and claimed for a replacement. This replacement handset has been issued.
- August 4th - mid November - the phone was used on a Vodafone SIM card by a family member
- August 1st - 4th 2010 - the phone was offered on eBay by Paul, bought by me and delivered by Royal Mail
- Early 2010 - the phone was bought by Paul and was used by him and his girl friend on Vodafone. The vendor was Leo. The sales agency was a notice board at a gun club to which both Leo and Paul belong.
- Sometime in 2009 - Leo acquired the phone from Vodafone, and (I infer) took out an insurance policy to cover its loss or theft.
So I am assuming that the insurance claim was settled in mid-November, it may have been in process for some time before that. I know that Vodafone will not unblock the handset because a claim has been settled. I know that the only person who can ask for the handset to be unblobked is the original owner, who is also the only person who can claim off the insurance (?). So I am a victim of a crime (£300 for a useless phone) for which the only recourse at the moment is to appeal to the criminal (Leo?) to reverse the blacklist. I consider that a bit perverse. So my next recourse is to go to the insurers and demonstrate to them that the phone has never been stolen. The insurers too are victims of this crime/error(?) and will surely want to correct the situation. This is a bit risky. Two bad things might happen. One, they may want me to give the phone back to undo the fraud they have suffered, and Two, they may brand me as the thief. I think that in the interests of having a working phone its a risk worth taking.
Footnote on the term "blacklist" - this is a widely used term even in these PC times. Still it could be worse, I might be Mark Twain
Sent from my wi-fi only iPhone