I have an iPhone I bought in Japan when I was living there. It was SIM locked by Softbank. I moved to Europe and I found a website (http://officialiphoneunlock.co.uk) that provides factory unlocks. For those of you who don’t know, a factory unlock is basically a definitive way to unlock your SIM locked phone. No need for jailbreak. It’s perfectly legal and clean. At the beginning I was a little bit suspicious but the site looked right. On a first look they have a support number, a contact email, testimonials using http://trustedreviews.eu with very good reviews. They have a Facebook page with 33K+ likes.
I submitted the IMEI of my two iPhones a 4S and a 4. Total cost 117€ (£93, $160).
After a couple of days I got the following answer for both phones:
iPhone marked as ‘Blocked or In-Contract’.
“The IMEI you gave us has been rejected by the carrier for unlocking due to being marked Blocked, usually meaning it’s a lost or stolen handset, but handsets can be blocked for any number of reasons including non-payment of bills, blacklisted, bad ESN and/or contract issues or still in contract. We cannot supply a refund for handsets that come back as blocked – this is mentioned on the website before purchase.”
At that point I decided to check what was going on with my phones. I contacted the Softbank international service and they confirmed to me that my phones weren’t in any of those states. They also provided me with a link to check the status of my phones by providing the IMEI. The page is in Japanese, but look at the image bellow, I translated what it means:
(click on the image to see it in full size)
The text in Japanese: ○: 利用できます（後日不正契約が認められた場合を除きます）
Allowed to use. (excluding the case in which the contract is recognized as fraudulent in the future)
My contract with Softbank is totally closed, the iPhones are my property now and I have no issues or pending payments with them. I’m totally in peace with Softbank.
In the same email from officialiphoneunlock.co.uk they continued:
“Good news however. We can easily unlock your Blocked handset on our ‘Any Network’ service which is guaranteed, the cost of this is an additional £50.00 and takes 24-72 hours. Please remember this service will NOT bypass an iCloud Activation Locked handset.
To upgrade to the Blocked service, please use this link http://www.officialiphoneunlock.co.uk/worldwide?mb=2
If you use our Guaranteed Any Network service and it fails for any reason, we refund ALL monies for that IMEI, including your original payment.”
This is when things turns even worse. They suggest me to pay extra £50 to unlock my phones and in case it’s not possible they will refund everything, including my original payment. Wait a minute. You can refund everything if I pay another £50 but you can’t refund my original payment?
This literally sounds like SCAM to me but comments of people in Facebook look very good.
I tried to reach them by phone but I got no answer. The answer is just a recorded message saying that they are busy, and after a long while, the communication just dropped. Also the phone recorded message said that they don’t attend support by phone.
I wrote several emails in their support page but again no response.
I wrote an email to the only email I got from their site: firstname.lastname@example.org but no response as well.
I sent a message using Facebook, no response.
I posted in their wall, the post was deleted…
I also commented on one of their posts in their Facebook page. And, so far, no answer.
At this point what else should I do? The next step should be to contact the police, notify the site as SCAM, and keep my personal online war against officialiphoneunlock.co.uk to see if they will eventually refund my money.
I don’t care if they couldn’t unlock my phones, that’s fine because technical issues are normal. But what frustrates me and makes all this really fishy is the fact that they don’t get back to me and ignore all my attempts to contact them.
officialiphoneunlock.co.uk if you guys cannot unlock my phones, that’s fine! But I want my money back because my case is none of the special cases which don’t get refunded.
I was contacted by dalpay.com which seems to be the company used by officialiphoneunlock.co.uk to manage the payments. They reviewed my case and decided to refund the payment. Now I’m in peace with officialiphoneunlock but I would like to use this incident to talk about common sense. None of this would have happened if they just replied to me, even with a “we are working on this” or “we will review your complain”. The fact that officialiphoneunlock just ignored my attempts to communicate with them, left me with no other option but to complain publicly. Just a simple gesture of attention to your clients is enough to avoid a complain that will eventually damage the company’s reputation and image.
This is also a good opportunity to remember the importance of complaining in social media and blogs. It works and companies offering online services should be more responsive to their clients.