Does cancelling your mobile contract mean a locked handset?

24 March 2010

Bitterwallet - Orange logoIt's been a while since us lot in the office had to cancel a mobile contract, so we're keen for your help on this one. It's a plea for help from avid Bitterwallet reader Trevor; obviously we're aware that SIM cards can be locked to a particular operator-branded handset, but we've never heard of an operator disabling the handset too.

This month I cancelled my Orange account because I wanted to start using a Blackberry and could not get one within my account terms with Orange. 3 offered me one so I switched providers.

However, Orange did not warn me that once I cancelled my account with them it would automatically lock my phone so I could no longer get access to my contacts, either on the phone or SIM memory. Some of my numbers are very important and impossible to get again; more importantly, my PIN numbers are locked in there for all my credit cards.

Orange say they can't help unless I cancel my new account with 3 and go back to them. With the ease they have of sending texts to sell us things or tell us of price increases, you would think they could warn us that cancelling an account would involve cancelling access to all this information.

Is there anything I can do about this situation? Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Has anybody been in a similar situation with Orange, or any other service provider? Can any other avid Bitterwallet readers help Trevor out?

TOPICS:   Mobile


  • Matt J.
    I call bullsh*t on this. Never ever heard of this, and I worked in the industry.
  • patrick
    If you cancel your contact then they'll usually force you to pay out the rest of the term and will provide you the unlock code for the phone so it can be used on any network. Sounds as though you've just spoken to an incompetent call centre person.
  • Kev
    Is it possible that bitterwallet have only been given half of the story? Any mobile operator will blacklist the handset if a contract has not been paid in full, i.e. if someone takes out an 18 month contract with o2 for an iPhone then cancels it 3 months down the line but dosn't pay the remaining 15 months line rental o2 would register the phone handset as blacklisted along with the SIM. This blacklist goes by IMEI number and will be forwarded to all UK networks the same as if the phone had been reported as stolen. within a matter of days the phone would not register to any UK network and only be usable for emergency calls. Only solution with this kind of phone is to sell it to a friendly foreigner to take it home and use perfectly normally in theri country!
  • Paul S.
    I do not see how they can lock down the phone in the way they are suggesting. If they mean the phone will stay locked to the network, just get and Orange Pay as you Go SIM card, pop that in, get your numbers out (and maybe use the credit for some 241 cinema tickets) and away you go.
  • Kev
    As for the data on the phone, even a locked phone should still be readable via it's PC Suite software, and the numbers from the SIM would be obtainable with SIM reader available from all good auction sites ;) If you struggle with the PC Suite, dependant on make/model you may find a local independant retailer or "Unlcoking Shop" can retreive the data from the device via one of the specialised unlocking boxes that bypasses some of the phones security.
  • zulm
    I cancelled with Orange few days ago but I was out of my contract, original story doesn't mention if the owner was in contract period or not, I would guess that makes the difference! Before you switch provider is basic common sense to backup you contacts and leave the tantrums of blaming the operator afterwards.
  • Dave M.
    What kind of balloon stores credit card pin numbers on a phone?
  • kev
    I agree with Kev, most likely a case of someone not knowing the Ts & Cs of their contract, and then blowing it out of proportion
  • kev
    also 'Trevor' is very stupid to put credit card pins on his phone
  • maxtweenie
    For Trevor read 'Tosser.' Quote, "Some of my numbers are very important and impossible to get again; more importantly, my PIN numbers are locked in there for all my credit cards." If I had 'important numbers' like Trevor, I'd be darn sure they're not just on my phone. And well done you for leaving all your card details and pin numbers on the phone. Makes it far easier for someone to hack your phone and clear your accounts.
  • dvdj
    'tard, enough said.
  • Ronnie
  • Gavin H.
    Storing credit card pins on a phone or anywhere else ISNT stupid. 2144086808 There you go everyone.... my credit card pin number is written above... and stored in my phone. Guess it if you can. Not everyone is a simpleton, but I reserve judgement on this case - there are a few people who would store them in plain text / unencrypted.
  • dvdj
    So you can remember the "encryption" for a 10 digit number yet you can't remember a simple 4 digit number?? Ha!
  • Gavin H.
    Give up.... 14-08-80 is my date of birth (not actually in this case). 2 (14) 4 (08) 6 (80) 8 Leaves 2468 But we need to -1 from each number giving 1357 reverse this and we have "7531" which is the number I decided to store in my phone. Of course... none of the information posted above is true... except for the part where I said I store my PIN's in my phone. :)
  • Gavin H.
    The encryption would be the same for ALL my cards (6+)
  • Gavin H.
    Some I use in emergencies.
  • Trevor
    Hi Trevor, 3 here. We are sorry to here about your problem with Orange but really dont worry about it, we will be able to annoy you so much more because after a while with us you will want to be shoving your handset with all your creit card PINs and "important" telephone numbers up our backsides. Im guessing you set all your PIN's to 0000, try that. To replace all your "important" numbers we suggest you just make them up, like you did the first time round. Enjoy, Tony Tonysenn 3 Customer Support UK
  • Gavin H.
    Hi Gavin, 3 here again, do you want to come and work for us, we have pleny of other idiots here for you to make up your ridiculous schemes with. you could call us but i seem to have encypted our number within this: TWAT Thanks Tony Tonysennnnnn 3 Recruitment Specialist.
  • Gavin H.
    Im up for it Tony, i worked out your encryption easily...I got that im a TWAT. Am i hired?
  • MrB
    Im guessing he meant he had his deactivated Orange simcard in his phone, which wouldnt allow him to access all the features on the handset. if he popped another Orange sim in there, or if its net unlocked put any sim in there he'd be able to access it. scaremongering does nobody any good.
  • IfYouCopyMyNameYouAreGayIsGay
    I'm with everybody else, and I call shennanigans. Having worked with mobile suppliers, I know the bullshit some customers do come out with. Trever almost certainly took an 18/24 month 'contract' out with Orange, changed his pathetic simple little brain after three months because his handset is no longer the newest, shineyist kid on the block, and he wants a pimpin new Blackberry. Orange refused to let him upgrade for free, so he cancelled his direct debits, took out a contract with 3, for which Orange blocked his fraudulantly obtained handset. SPACKTARD. And heres Bitterwallet, after just recently taking the piss out of the Guardian for printing absolutely everything they hear. Well done, Pot-terwallet
  • Tony
    I was recently told that companies are no longer allowed to block handsets for unpaid bills. This is due to the fact that they cannot legally ask you for money for a device that no longer works. For example, You do not pay your bill and they block your service, that's fair enough... But you wish to change to a pay as you go SIM, even if it's with a different but compatible service provider, but you can't because your handset has been locked down. Service providers can continue to request payments for the contract, and that is fair enough... And I recommend you pay, simple as. However, they cannot lock your handset and still expect you to pay, because the device is useless and that would either A: Prevent you from moving on to a cheaper PAYG tariff whilst you pay off the contract, or B: force you to buy another handset on a totally different service provider costing you more money and reducing your chances of paying off your outstanding bill. As for selling handsets that have unpaid bills against them, IMEI numbers get black listed and if you try to sell your phone and your IMEI comes up blacklisted, your going to look very silly in front of whoever your selling it to and people are going to contact you asking for their money back for the device, and you want to hope that it's not some burley bodybuilder bloke covered in tattoo's that's just bought it for his daughters birthday gift! Because you will end up needing to buy a new pair of underwear.!

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