IMEI Unlock Service 1 – T-Mobile 0

When I got to Singapore last week I got a SingTel pre-paid SIM card for local data access and any emergency calling I might need to do. I haven’t traveled outside the U.S. for several years, so I’d completely forgotten my current phone wasn’t unlocked. There’s nothing I find more frustrating than finding out something won’t work after I’ve already opened the package.
Back in my hotel room, I made a call using Skype to T-Mobile customer support requesting an unlock code for my phone. T-Mobile is usually great about unlocking phones for international travel, unlike the other GSM phone company with the three initials A. T. and T.
The customer service representative I spoke with offered to put through my request, but suggested they might not have the code for 24 hours. She indicated they would email me the code, since I was outside the country and was calling via Skype. Unlocking a phone from the network should be a standard request, but if I had to wait 24 hours, it was my own fault for not planning ahead.
Being the impatient person I am, I decided to see if anyone online had a faster solution. There are dozens of sites offering IMEI unlock codes for various cell phone models. Most of the sites seem potentially scammy. All the sites have wildly variable pricing.
I ended up trying, which looked the most legit of any of the sites I investigated. They promise money back if they can’t unlock your phone and they indicated it would take between 15 minutes and six hours to process the request. I crossed my fingers as I sent the IMEI number for my phone and $25 via Paypal.
Ten minutes later, I got an email with an unlock code and instructions. The unlock code worked and I was on the SingTel network. As it turns out, this was lucky because the network access in the hotel was flaky for the next two days.
I never did get the unlock code from T-Mobile. When a third party can deliver in less than 10 minutes, while the carrier can’t deliver at all, there’s a problem. I do appreciate T-Mobile’s willingness to help me unlock the phone. I’d even pay them for expedited service, though having purchased the phone at retail with no contract, it shouldn’t have been locked in the first place.
Do you have experience unlocking a phone? Was it good, bad, impossible?

One comment

  1. Had to software unlock and jailbreak a iPhone to work with my carrier (now the only major US carrier to NOT carry the iPhone).  I have been told Apple stores can unlock them, but are reluctant to for unknown reasons.  I don’t care if it’s jailbroken, I just want to put my SIM card in the danged thing and it work!  I quit carrying it because it requires a tethered reboot, so I’m back to carrying my iPod AND HTC phone, instead of getting what I want.

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