Switching cell phone carriers can be challenging

ByMichael Finney and Randall Yip via KGO logo
Tuesday, August 13, 2019
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Switching cell phone providers is supposed to be a lot easier since a new law passed in 2014, but it didn't quite work out that way for a San Jose man.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Switching cell phone providers is supposed to be a lot easier since a new law passed in 2014.

A digital lock on our smart phones makes the process difficult, but a law signed by President Obama allows for those phones to be unlocked with a code. Unfortunately, it proved difficult for a South Bay man.

In an ideal world, unlocking the code to Tom Pinney's phone should have been easy. It wasn't.

The San Jose resident wanted to switch from AT&T to T-Mobile. AT&T gave him the unlock code, but T-Mobile told him the code didn't work.

Pinney went to a local AT&T store for assistance. The staff there couldn't help, so he went home.

"Got on the phone with AT&T support and was passed around in circles," Pinney recalled.

He eventually talked to a manager who promised him a replacement phone and a new code. "'Here's the unlock code.' Went back to T-Mobile. Tried it. Wouldn't work."

Apparently the model sent to him was so old, the carrier no longer serviced it.

By now, two months had passed since Pinney asked to switch carriers. He contacted 7 On Your Side, and we contacted AT&T.

The company sent him a second replacement phone, but it still wouldn't work. Pinney's frustration reached a boiling point. "I'm tired. I'm done with this. Can't you just refund the money I paid for my phone?" Pinney wondered.

AT&T told us: "after working extensively with the device manufacturer, technical issues prevented us from successfully resolving this. We issued the customer a credit in the amount of the device."

Now, Pinney is a happy man.

Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.