This is some very important advise, please take 5-10 minutes to read it, it might just save you a lot of money in the end.
Buying a cell phone especially one that's the hottest trend can be very tricky. Here's why..
Take the phone that is in most demand right now and do a search out of 100 listings you will see that 10% of those have "BAD ESN Numbers". That means that phone is either stolen or is still tied to someone's account for past due balances that were never paid and the account is way past due. It also means that someone had an accout with a Cell Service Carrier decided that they were not happy with the provider and chose not to pay their bill. Well by not paying the bill the provider will not let them release that phone until the account is current. Also you cannot activate "BAD ESN" phone with another carrier either, again until the account is current. The phone it will be tied to that account with that past due balance. Cell Phone carriers have gotten smart over the years as much as some people chose not to believe. Look at it as a lien on a house, you can't sell or buy a house with a lien on it until the lien is satisfied.
Unfortunately here is where it gets frustrating; these poeple will actually go into a privately owned cell phone store and tell the rep that they have canceled their service and will trade the phone in for another phone with a different service provider. At this point I think that the Cell Phone Store Reps should call the current provider of these phones that are being traded in and ask if this phone is Free & Clear to protect themselves and the people who in the future will be buying any phones that are traded in, but sadly most of these reps don't. They take the traded phone and list it on ebay. But then after finding out that the phone is usless they list in the listing that YOU are responsible for contacting the provider, give them the ESN, or HEX ESN that is listed in the listing and ask if the phone is free and clear. I think that if the rep was willing to accept the traded in phone at the time they should be responsible enough to check if the phone is free and clear.
The sad part is these privately owned Cell Phone Stores work on their own guide lines, they can give the person trading in the phone say a $75.00 trade-in credit towards a new phone with a new service agreement. Then they will then turn around and sell the phone for double or triple that amount. Here's an example: Johnny went to Cell Phone Store 123 because he wasn't happy with his ABC Cell Service or just couldn't plain old afford it. Johnny already knew that his cell phone service was cut off due to non payment, rather than pay the past due balance plus any late fees owed he tells the rep that he canceled his service and wants to trade the phone in for a new cell phone with a new service provider. Either way the phone doesn't work and the cell phone store rep figuers he is telling the truth. Unfortunately this rep has no common sense and goes along with it. Now this rep 's only concern at the moment is to get the sale and earn credits, he accepts the phone and gives Johnny $75.00 towards and new phone. Now Johnny is signing on as a new customer to a new service provider, he now wants an I-Phone well all new signup customers can get the phone for let's say $200, plus another $50.00 savings for a 2 year agreement-- now add in Johnny's $75.00 trade in value and Johnny just got a new phone for $75.00 and it just cost you a lot money and a big head ache, HOW??
Well now you are on Ebay, the phone that Johnny just traded in is the same model you have been looking for. Let's call it the Elite Pocket PC. Your service provider is also ABC Cell Service you still have 1 year to go on your contract and you are not eligible for an upgrade yet. However if you should chose to buy out right the Elite Pocket PC it will cost you about $650.00, which you don't have. The Elite Pocket PC that Johnny traded in is being sold on ebay by the Cell Phone Store rep that accepted it, he now has it listed for $210.00, that's a big savings from $650.00..don't you think???. You come across it, you view it, you see it, you get excited and in all that excitement you forget to read the bottom last line in bold. "Contact Servcie Provider ABC Cell Service and give them this ESN Number and check if it is Free & Clear-- Phone is AS-IS it is your responsibility to check the status of this phone. No Returns AS-IS".
You were so excited that you bought the phone and in your excitment couldn't read that little bold very important print., the phone arrives 4-5 days later and you call ABC Cell Service you give them your name and you tell them that you want to swap the phone. All of the sudden the account rep on the phone asks you for your name, you give it to them and they tell you that this is not the name that is registered to the Elite Pcoket PC phone you just bought for $210.00. WHAT HAPPENED???? First and foremost IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT . The seller made the phone look so attractive, so easy to achive and THE SAVINGS OH MY GOD!!! it was just what you were looking for, it was so good that you couldn't pass up this offer, so good that it took you for a whirl-whin. AGAIN IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT......Now back to the problem----The phone is still registered to Johnny and it is locked to Johnny until Johnny pays up his balance and the account is current--That's what happened....
Here's how it works folks, Cell Phone companies provide you with a service and through out the years they have caught on to all of the scams and games out there. Now-a-days your cell phone is the account number, if your account is not current then that phone will be tied to you until the account is current and all balances are paid in full.
Yes you can cancel you contract at any time and release the phone however your account NEEDS TO BE CURRENT. If it is not current the phone will not be released and you won't be able to sell it, trade it or get rid of it. How do we avoid this, usually about 95% of the ebay sellers do sell free and clear phones..let's not get it wrong here, whether they list free and clear or not. If the seller states "not sure if it is free & clear" chances are it's not and they are just looking to unload that head ache on someone else, maybe you.
How do you protect yourself, well first email the seller ask if the phone is free and clear and ask for the ESN Numbers, call the service provider and also ask them if the cell phone is clear. Yes it is redundant but you won't be throwing hundreds of dollars away. You can also go to the Search tab on top of the screen, next to it there is a little blue link that says Advanced Search, click it and select member contact. Input the Member's Id and the Item number. You will then receive an email with the member's phone number and email address, call them --what's the worst that could happen they ask you never to call again...but at least you'll be safe.
Finally why do certain sellers do this, because truly they were too dumb to protect themselves and take the proper initatives, so they feel bad they figure they will list the phone for a great price and play the I don't know card and unload it on to someone else that doesn't know enough to protect themselves. Be smart, some sellers really don't know much about cell phones and you really shouldn't rely on people that don't know much about what they are selling, it is up to you to protect yourself!!
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