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eBay phone sale problem
Old 05-28-2012, 02:45 AM   #1
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eBay phone sale problem

I am having a problem with a buyer of an iPhone 4S that I recently sold and I'm at a loss what to do.

I used to sell on eBay a lot but got out of it a few years ago. Recently we moved and our AT&T phones didn't get good service at our new house so we cancelled our AT&T contract and went Verizon. I had bought an iPhone 4S about 6 months earlier so had a hefty early termination fee which I paid. We paid early termination fees on several phones.

I then sold my iPhone 4S on Ebay in the AT&T category. I didn't say anything about unlocking in my listing. Apparently AT&T has recently allowed people to unlock AT&T phones and use them with other carriers but I know nothing about unlocking and said nothing about it in the listing. I limited buyers to US buyers.

Buyer used Buy It Now, paid with Paypal and requested shipment within the US. All of that went fine, and he gave me positive feedback. It was clear since then that he apparently lives in another country but was using a US address and paypal account to pay.

Anyway, shortly after receiving the phone he wrote and asked me if I had paid my bill to AT&T. I wrote back and asked him what he meant and told him I had cancelled my contract with AT&T.

He wrote back a couple of weeks later and said he needed to know the information to unlock the phone, needed to know the number and if my contract was cancelled. He didn't say what number it was that he wanted and I had already told him the contract was cancelled.

So I wrote back, told him I don't know how to unlock the phone and sent him a link to an article I found on the internet about how to get a phone unlocked. That article said basically you have to give AT&T the IMEI number which is found on the phone. I told him how the article said to find it (I have no idea what the number is since I don't have the phone anymore). I again told him I cancelled the contract and that I had paid the full cancellation fee.

I've now gotten a new message from him. This time he says he can't unlock the phone and "the number what you send with the iPhone doesn't work" and he wants to know the information to unlock it and wants all information about the contract.

I was sort of at a loss at that point. I didn't send him any number with the iPhone. The only number with the phone that I know of is whatever shows on the phone settings and he has that information. I don't have a clue how to unlock the phone or even what AT&T's criteria is to unlock the phone and never claimed to know how to unlock or anything about unlocking.


I wrote him and told him I don't know anything about unlocking. I told him that if he gives AT&T the information about the phone such as the IMEI number then AT&T should be able to look it up and see that the contract was cancelled and that I paid the early termination fee. I told him that AT&T has that information and there is nothing more I can add to it.

So he just wrote me back and wants and says that what he needs is the number of the contract and the name of the person who cancelled the contract. I have no idea what he means by the number of the contract. I have no contract number. Maybe he means the phone number of the phone but I have no idea. I've since ported that number to Verizon.

The contract was cancelled by my husband. Of course, the buyer has my name since I sold to him on eBay but he doesn't know my husband's name. Just not sure whether to provide that info or not.


Anyway -- What should I tell him? Do I need to do anything else? Can he do anything? I never told him he could unlock the phone and have no idea why he can't or even what AT&T's criteria is. I really don't want to give him any more information about my contract or my phone number and really there isn't anything more I can add since I don't actually have the phone anymore. I don't really know why he needs to know the name of the person who cancelled the contract but since the buyer has my last name already I guess it wouldn't be a big deal to give him my husband's first name. I guess I am worried that he will ask for a refund but I haven't done anything wrong here, particularly since I never said he could unlock the phone and actually know nothing about unlocking.
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Old 05-28-2012, 06:23 AM   #2
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I would be cautious about what info you give a stranger over the internet. when I have a problem with an item, I usually ask for a refund and if he is not, maybe a refund would be cheaper for you in the long run. strangers trying to get others info is not something new and should be avoided.
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Old 05-28-2012, 08:43 AM   #3
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He has 45 days to open up a Paypal dispute . I would not give him any more information . There are too many scammers on ebay.If he opens a dispute they will have him return it for a refund and you will have to pay for return shipping . Since you do not sell on ebay much it will not affect you . You can also ask this question on the ebay discussion boards.Most of the sellers have dealt with these problems and will give you good advice .
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Old 05-28-2012, 09:23 AM   #4
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Can you all get on a phone call together? Have the buyer send you an AT&T contact number so you know you are really talking to AT&T. They can then call the buyer and you can give AT&T the info they need.
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Old 05-28-2012, 09:35 AM   #5
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I don't understand how an AT&T lock can affect a phone outside the US. Nonetheless, here is an AT&T FAQ on unlocking the iPhone 4S AT&T - What are the eligibility requirements for unlocking iPhone?
Quote:
General Eligibility Requirements for Unlocking iPhone

AT&T will unlock an iPhone under the following circumstances:
  • The person requesting the unlock is: (i) a current AT&T customer; or (ii) a former AT&T customer who can provide the phone number or account number for the account.
  • The iPhone was designed for use on AT&T's network;
  • All contract obligations, including any term commitment, associated with the device to be unlocked have been fully satisfied; and
  • The iPhone has not been reported lost or stolen.
It looks like you can call AT&T and with the phone number, contract and cancellation info request they unlock the phone.

FWIW, here is an Apple FAQ as well http://support.apple.com/kb/ht1937
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Old 05-28-2012, 11:16 AM   #6
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Hmm...that is interesting Michael. I will have DH call and see if he can get it unlocked. That explains I think why the buyer wants to know the number of the contract and who cancelled the phone. He probably wants to get the phone number and DH's name and then he plans to pretend to be DH to call and get the phone unlocked.

Moemg -- I knew about the 45 days. He is about a week away from the end of the 45 days. One reason I didn't want to just refuse to say anything to him was I didn't want him to initiate a dispute. I know that my listing absolutely said nothing about the phone being unlocked or unlockable or anything else. But, I know that they usually take the buyer's side.

I don't sell a lot on eBay but have a couple of other phones I still need to sell. He has already given me good feedback on the phone though.

Update - DH called AT&T who verified the phone is unlockable. However, to unlock it they need the IMEI number (which is what I told the buyer forever ago) which I don't have since I don't have the phone anymore. I wrote the buyer and told him I would contact AT&T -- which I did not feel I had any obligation to do -- but I need the IMEI number so we'll see if he sends it. If what he really wants is an unlocked phone then he will send the IMEI number and I will get it unlocked.
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Old 05-29-2012, 06:45 AM   #7
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This thread is informative. You clearly should make sure your phone is unlocked if you are keeping it after contract cancellation (or upgrade for that matter). You also better get a guarantee that a phone you buy is unlocked so you can dispute the transaction if it isn't.
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Old 05-29-2012, 07:18 AM   #8
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This thread is informative. You clearly should make sure your phone is unlocked if you are keeping it after contract cancellation (or upgrade for that matter). You also better get a guarantee that a phone you buy is unlocked so you can dispute the transaction if it isn't.
Exactly. And, after reading Katsmeow's update (thanks!), also record the IMEI and any other unique identifying number. I would have expected AT&T to have these on record, and they probably do, but they still will not make it easy for current and former customers to buy and sell phones.
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Old 05-29-2012, 06:45 PM   #9
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The big thing I learned about this is to record the IMEI number before selling the phone since it isn't in any paperwork we have. We did end up calling AT&T and they wouldn't do anything without that number.

The buyer did end up giving me the IMEI number and AT&T now does say the phone is unlocked so hopefully this resolved everything.


Quote:
You clearly should make sure your phone is unlocked if you are keeping it after contract cancellation (or upgrade for that matter). You also better get a guarantee that a phone you buy is unlocked so you can dispute the transaction if it isn't.
Well, unlocking only matters if you want to use a phone on a different carrier. Someone buying an AT&T phone who intends to use it on AT&T doesn't need it to be unlocked. The buyer's error was in not asking me before he bought if the phone was unlocked. Some people do list their phones as unlocked but I didn't. I didn't actually even know about unlocking. We do still have a couple of phones to sell and I do plan to get them unlocked before selling them. In this case, I don't feel I had any obligation to get the phone unlocked but it didn't cost us anything to do it so didn't mind doing it.
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Old 05-29-2012, 07:23 PM   #10
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If I understand this, it's another example of how ease-of-use is hindered by economic considerations. AT&T has a right to try to protect their interests, but what a bother for users and AT&T's customer service reps.
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Old 05-29-2012, 08:25 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post
If I understand this, it's another example of how ease-of-use is hindered by economic considerations. AT&T has a right to try to protect their interests, but what a bother for users and AT&T's customer service reps.

I guess there is two ways to look at it. Until recently you couldn't get an iphone unlocked on AT&T at all so in that way they are now more customer friendly.

I do understand the desire, of course, to protect their own interests. That said -- I did pay a very hefty cancellation fee so I don't think they lost on the deal. I don't begrudge them the fee. I realize that I got the phone at a discounted price based upon a long contract and I cancelled early.
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Old 05-30-2012, 09:47 AM   #12
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If I understand this, it's another example of how ease-of-use is hindered by economic considerations. AT&T has a right to try to protect their interests, but what a bother for users and AT&T's customer service reps.
Agree... having a phone locked in the first place is not customer friendly... my wife tells me in Europe all you need to do is buy a sim card from a phone company, slip it into your phone and start calling... when you go into another country, buy another sim...

If all you want to do is change phones, buy it and move your sim from your old phone to your new phone... done...

(if this is wrong, I am blaming my wife , when I lived in the UK, I never did buy a cell phone)
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Old 05-30-2012, 10:05 AM   #13
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just as a heads up from a privacy standpoint... iPhones (and almost every smart phone for that matter) store everything you've done with the phones. This information cannot be permanently deleted without really expensive software that the average user doesn't have access to. That is to say... even if you delete stuff, it still resides in memory and can be retrieved pretty easily by someone with the know how.

I did a project for my masters on forensics and iPhones in particular and was amazed at what I got off of my old iPhone (sitting in my closet collecting dust). Every single text messages I had ever sent or received was accessible (over 2,000 in total), even the ones I deleted. All photos, and even locations and GPS data resided on the phone with lat and lon vectors pointing to my house and work (since the phone was used most in those places). Banking data, numbers from the apps I had used linked to my accounts (I don't use them anymore now knowing they store the actual passwords and banking/routing numbers on the phone! good grief)

I always advise people never to sell their phones on eBay... I know it is tempting because you can get a lot for these iPhones ($400+)... horrible idea from a security and privacy standpoint though.

I took a hammer to my old phone after doing this project... and buried it in my backyard.
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Old 05-30-2012, 11:02 AM   #14
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I took a hammer to my old phone after doing this project... and buried it in my backyard.
it's nearly impossible to access stored personal information in a hammer, so that was probably unnecessary.


Still, better safe than sorry.
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Old 05-30-2012, 11:18 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by EvrClrx311 View Post
just as a heads up from a privacy standpoint... iPhones (and almost every smart phone for that matter) store everything you've done with the phones. This information cannot be permanently deleted without really expensive software that the average user doesn't have access to. That is to say... even if you delete stuff, it still resides in memory and can be retrieved pretty easily by someone with the know how.

I did a project for my masters on forensics and iPhones in particular and was amazed at what I got off of my old iPhone (sitting in my closet collecting dust). Every single text messages I had ever sent or received was accessible (over 2,000 in total), even the ones I deleted. All photos, and even locations and GPS data resided on the phone with lat and lon vectors pointing to my house and work (since the phone was used most in those places). Banking data, numbers from the apps I had used linked to my accounts (I don't use them anymore now knowing they store the actual passwords and banking/routing numbers on the phone! good grief)

I always advise people never to sell their phones on eBay... I know it is tempting because you can get a lot for these iPhones ($400+)... horrible idea from a security and privacy standpoint though.

I took a hammer to my old phone after doing this project... and buried it in my backyard.
Wow! I might have expected as much. I advised Frank not to buy an iPhone, because (even without knowing the above at all) I regarded it as an anti-privacy device. He is very concerned about privacy so I know it wouldn't make him happy. I, on the other hand, blithely reveal my location to a bazillion apps and reveal so much more without a second thought.

After reading your post, I'll get a hammer out too when I need to get rid of my iPhone or iPad.
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Old 05-30-2012, 11:27 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EvrClrx311 View Post
just as a heads up from a privacy standpoint... iPhones (and almost every smart phone for that matter) store everything you've done with the phones. This information cannot be permanently deleted without really expensive software that the average user doesn't have access to. That is to say... even if you delete stuff, it still resides in memory and can be retrieved pretty easily by someone with the know how.

I did a project for my masters on forensics and iPhones in particular and was amazed at what I got off of my old iPhone (sitting in my closet collecting dust). Every single text messages I had ever sent or received was accessible (over 2,000 in total), even the ones I deleted. All photos, and even locations and GPS data resided on the phone with lat and lon vectors pointing to my house and work (since the phone was used most in those places). Banking data, numbers from the apps I had used linked to my accounts (I don't use them anymore now knowing they store the actual passwords and banking/routing numbers on the phone! good grief)

I always advise people never to sell their phones on eBay... I know it is tempting because you can get a lot for these iPhones ($400+)... horrible idea from a security and privacy standpoint though.

I took a hammer to my old phone after doing this project... and buried it in my backyard.
Evrclr - if you factory reset your smartphone (which says it formats the card) does that delete all that old info? I got a new phone that I didn't like and reset it and returned in a month later. I assumed my data was toast, but...
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Old 05-30-2012, 01:07 PM   #17
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Evrclr - if you factory reset your smartphone (which says it formats the card) does that delete all that old info? I got a new phone that I didn't like and reset it and returned in a month later. I assumed my data was toast, but...
I'm 99% sure that all it does it delete the pointers to the file locations. It's not actually wiping the data through multiple passes, which is required to really remove deleted content. To really delete memory you have to overwrite it with something else (another file, or blank space), which takes up time, and battery life... that is why programs don't delete things efficiently. It makes them look slow. Instead they take a shortcut and just say... let me throw away all of these pointers to the memory locations and call them deleted.

Here is a good way to envision how it works. Imagine its dark outside and you are writing notes on the beach sand. Every time you write a note (a file) you shine a flashlight (pointer) on it and remember where to shine it again if you need the note. When you want to delete the note, instead of wiping it from the sand, all you do is forget the location you stored it at and consider it gone/deleted. This doesn't stop someone else from combing the beach with another flashlight to find that note (file). Programs are written to traverse the entire file system looking for these files in "deleted space"

That said, no one is going to pay $200+ for your iPhone just for a chance to steal whatever personal data you left on the phone hoping for something they could exploit...

However, I wouldn't want that information out of my control.
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Old 05-30-2012, 02:29 PM   #18
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Agree... having a phone locked in the first place is not customer friendly... my wife tells me in Europe all you need to do is buy a sim card from a phone company, slip it into your phone and start calling... when you go into another country, buy another sim...

If all you want to do is change phones, buy it and move your sim from your old phone to your new phone... done...
Same system in most of Aisa
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Old 05-31-2012, 10:04 PM   #19
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That's really interesting about the data. It makes me glad that I really didn't use my iphone for anything really confidential or do put in bank account numbers or log ins. And, of course, the thing is that I couldn't really just afford to throw all these phones away when we had to switch carriers. But this certainly does reinforce in me not keeping any confidential data on an iphone (or other smartphone).
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Old 06-01-2012, 09:15 AM   #20
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...my wife tells me in Europe all you need to do is buy a sim card from a phone company, slip it into your phone and start calling... when you go into another country, buy another sim...

If all you want to do is change phones, buy it and move your sim from your old phone to your new phone... done...

(if this is wrong, I am blaming my wife , when I lived in the UK, I never did buy a cell phone)
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Same system in most of Aisa
Same system in the US also (with certain carriers/hardware). ATT and T-Mobile for example, both use GSM hardware and SIM cards. You can (and I have) move a SIM card between different phones, and the phone takes on the account of the SIM card. I have done this with several of the phones in our family, switching back and forth at will, and also to re-use some AT&T phones we had with T-Mobile.

I had to get the AT&T phones unlocked to use them with a T-Mobile SIM. T-Mobile work with each other without unlocking (even between pre-pay and contract). The process was as described in this thread (some codes need to be physically entered in the phone) - they need the IMEI and account info. While people are saying this is customer unfriendly, it is also providing some customer protection (it's easier to sell unlocked phones - you really want anyone to grab your phone and unlock it w/o your permission?).

-ERD50
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