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Double Edge Sword of Unlocking Cell Phones (T-Mobile USA)

Update: TMobile is currently looking into the case and will report back with new info when available.

I may upset a lot of people about this post but I need to be heard. Then again it may stir enough people to help the cause.

I do not make a lot of money but wanted a Windows Phone. I have found out that Nokia was coming out with the Nokia Lumia 521 and it is limited to T-Mobile USA. I thought that this would be the phone for me. It is a low budget device but it is a Windows Phone. That is all I cared about….A WINDOWS PHONE. Well through hard work I got the money and went to Wal-Mart to buy The Nokia 521 (T-Mobile Branded) at full retail price of $129.99 (before sales tax). So I legally paid FULL PRICE and T-Mobile should (key word “SHOULD”) give me the unlock code. Thinking on this I bought the phone.


A few days went by, I finally had the day off so I could talk to T-Mobile on to getting the unlock code. I first looked at T-Mobile’s Website to find the conditions to get the unlock code.


Once I pulled up the site and found the conditions to unlock my phone, I see the “IF STATEMENT” that I have circled in red. I thought GREAT, since I have paid full price and the “IF STATEMENT” says I can get the code without any issues.

Well I was wrong and here is why……

I have first contacted T-Mobile through online chat three times. The first time I did not print out the chat but the last two times I did.

I did receive an email from the Sim Unlock Team and this was their response to me:

As you can read above that they are not honoring their conditions from the “IF STATEMENT”. Keep in mind nowhere in the picture of T-Mobile’s Website above does it say all of these conditions must apply. It only says if like if one is true then…..


From the above chat with Michael S (look at the BRACKET PART OF THE PICTURE), I have to use T-Mobile service AND pay in full before I can get the unlock code. From Michael S, he talks about certain Guidelines, well the CERTAIN GUIDELINES posted on their site is in a picture above. Nowhere on it says I have to have service active to get the unlock code. I paid in full and posted a copy of my transaction from Wal-Mart showing this.

Well I am determined to unlock my Nokia 521, so I went into A T-Mobile Store in my city and waited, and waited, and waited for a rep to assist me. The customer in front of me was talking to a rep about unlocking her AT&T iPhone to be used on T-Mobile, so I listened in on the conversation. The rep said T-Mobile uses an unlock service called,

As the rep finished with that customer, another rep started working with me. I informed the second rep that I was over listening to the first rep and want to unlock my T-Mobile branded Nokia 521. My rep said we cannot do that. I informed my rep that I had paid for my Nokia 521 at Wal_mart at full price and here is my receipt to prove it. Puzzled, I informed my rep that you will unlock an AT&T iPhone without informing AT&T but T-Mobile will not unlock my Nokia 521 to use on AT&T. I asked about releasemycode website that was mentioned, could they do it. I was told NO but I could try. I did just that.

This is a picture that T-Mobile even used in some of the commercials that shows an unlocked iPhone in it.

I came home jumped on the computer and went to releasemycode website to find out. I looked all over the site but no luck. I found a chat online link and jumped on it. Releasemycode Rep informed me that they could not unlock my Nokia 521. I am now getting pissed.

I have paid full retail price and according to T-Mobile Website I can get my unlock code but every corner I get blocked. My next step is to find someone who will unlock my device. I did find one and got the unlock code as of today 6/13/2013 but I do not want to get this website in trouble I will not mention the site name even though I would be honored to promote their business. So basically I bought the phone over a month ago and now I have finally unlocked my device on which T-Mobile should have done to begin with.

Now before I go any further, this is the double edge sword (from the title comes in) I will be talking about. I understand that starting this year (2013) that unlocking smart phones is illegal and punishable by law. Well I guess I am a criminal now. According to

This is now the law of the land:




PENALTY: In some situations, first time offenders may be fined up to $500,000, imprisoned for five years, or both. For repeat offenders, the maximum penalty increases to a fine of $1,000,000, imprisonment for up to ten years, or both.*

So let me get this straight, if I the user unlock my device without permission I will be fined $500,000 and/or prison time or both, but T-Mobile can advertise an unlocking service on their site to unlock any GSM device without telling the carrier (in this case AT&T) and get away with it. How is this fair? It is not in my opinion.

Now let’s get back to T-Mobile now. I thought T-Mobile is the UN-BRANDED CARRIER NOW. No contracts, no hidden charges, no hidden fees, always thinking of the consumer’s interest. Watch this video below, while watching remember what I said above in mind.

Access the video titled: John Legere, CEO – Tremendous Momentum for T-Mobile US

My final thoughts:

A good friend of mine has pointed out that on several sites there are several people asking for someone to unlock their cell phone and willing to pay money for it. Go figure people willing to pay money to unlock their phone. Who thought that?

If I can be punished for unlocking my device then what can be done to a retail business promoting unlocking service?

If T-Mobile is the UN-CARRIER then why are they acting like the other carriers?

If T-Mobile is advertising they are acting in the consumers’ interest then where is my free unlock code instead of having to pay someone else to get it for me?

Post a comment below and let me hear your stories. I know they are out there cause I have found others with similar stories like mine.

At the time of this post I have sent a copy of this to T-Mobile for comment but have not heard anything yet. If they do comment I will update this post.