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View Full Version : A Sprint phone I bought is activated on another account. What should I do?


imekul
09-28-2010, 03:59 PM
I recently bought a used Epic for a "great" deal. Sprint says that the ESN is clean, but the phone is already activated on another account. I've been having a hard time getting a hold of the seller, so I don't know whether he will ever actually deactivate the phone or what the situation really is.

Anyway, I'm trying to find out what to anticipate. Obviously, if this is legit, the seller will probably eventually contact Sprint and deactivate the phone, and all will be well.

If not, I guess this is as good as a phone with a bad ESN? If that is the case, it's not the worst possible outcome, as I can always resell it on eBay for parts or whatnot and probably end up breaking even.

The phone shows a number which presumably it had been activated on. When I try to make an outgoing call, though, I hear the "Your account could not be validated" recording.

I guess I'm wondering a few things:

1.) How could a phone be activated in Sprint's system, yet not function? I mean, the phone looks and behaves as if it was deactivated, yet Sprint shows it as being activated. Is there some middle zone it could be in?

2.) Is there any way, contacting Sprint, to find out any info on the account, such as any scheduled deactivation date or anything? Or to find out if the account is past due or anything of that sort? Obviously I don't have the account PIN or anything, but I do have a phone number and the ESN.

3.) Why would someone want to sell a phone that was active on their account but not deactivate it? Would it be a case of someone abandoning their account, which would lead to a blocked ESN, so they want to unload it?

I'm thinking it's unlikely this could be lost or stolen, simply because Sprint shows the ESN as clear. You'd think if someone lost their phone, they would call Sprint and get the phone blocked.

I'm not really too worried about it even if the case is that this is essentially going to wind up being a blocked ESN. Like I said, I can probably make my money back or come close to it. I'm just really curious as to what the situation could be.

I would really appreciate any thoughts you guys have!

Thanks,

Luke

lenny_go
09-28-2010, 04:12 PM
Where did you buy it?

I think your only recourse is through the seller. If you bought it on ebay/paypal, you have a ton of recourse. Just file a "not as described" due to bad ESN. If you bought it on craigslist for cash.... good luck, man.

Considering you got a "great" deal, unfortunately the ESN probably wasn't as clean as the seller claimed. :(

imekul
09-28-2010, 04:16 PM
I bought it for cash locally, and I knew that it was a bit of a roll of the dice. So yeah, no buyer protection or anything like that. But even if I have to resell it stating it has a bad ESN, I'll probably be okay. It's in great shape.

I guess I'm just curious as to what other stages an ESN could be in, or practically speaking how someone could still have the phone on their account.

lgmayka
09-28-2010, 04:39 PM
This happened to me several years ago. It finally turned out that the phone's ESN was tied to a particular company contract. Even though the company had deactivated the phone, Sprint still presumed that the phone belonged to the company, and would not allow a private individual to activate it on a personal account.

imekul
09-28-2010, 05:35 PM
Thanks for sharing your experience.

How did you find out the situation? Did Sprint reveal that info to you, or did someone else tell you that?

Also, I assume you never got the phone activated?

Remax Realtor
09-28-2010, 05:58 PM
Can you contact the seller and see whats going on? I always save the numbers from craigslist sellers just in case I have issues.

lgmayka
09-28-2010, 06:39 PM
How did you find out the situation? Did Sprint reveal that info to you, or did someone else tell you that?

Also, I assume you never got the phone activated?
Sprint eventually revealed that. And no, the phone was never activated.

VisionsDivine
09-28-2010, 06:53 PM
I had the same thing happen to me with a Treo a couple years ago. I traced the account back to the original owner across the country. When the owner wouldn't return my calls, I left a message on his phone threatening to call China and leave the phone on overnight--and thus racking up the International charges. This got the last owner to promptly call Sprint and clear the ESN.

ajac
09-28-2010, 07:14 PM
best thing you can do is is call the seller or contact local law enforcement and see what they can do (most likely nothing)

Dan
09-28-2010, 08:01 PM
Your recourse is to post a "bad seller" posting on CL or whatever service you found him / her on.

Likely what happened is the seller skipped out on a bill, and the account is now in collections. It is, for the foreseeable future, a paperweight now.

Yeah, you can sell it for parts, or to be flashed to a service like cricket or metroPCS. That's about it.

diveborg
09-28-2010, 09:16 PM
Other than on Ebay, the ONLY way to buy a phone from a private party for cash is to meet at a Sprint corp. store and have the phone verified that it can be activated on your account before cash changes hands, IMO.

imekul
09-29-2010, 12:14 AM
Turns out it was stolen. It's a little tricky to type with these handcuffs on. (Just kiddin' =)

I called Sprint again, and after digging a little deeper, the rep was actually able to tell me the phone was, in fact, reported stolen. I'm not real sure why that wasn't mentioned before when I tried to do an ESN swap.

I moved on to some higher-up a Sprint, and he got a hold of the original owner, and essentially set up a time for me to return the phone to a Sprint store for the rightful owner to reclaim it.

What's really surprising -- and quite relieving -- is that out of the blue, the rep asked me how much I paid for the phone. I told him $220, and he said that he couldn't credit me the full amount, but instantly gave me an account credit of $150! That caught me off guard!

So that's where we stand. What surprises me the most is that when I called initially, before the purchase, the Sprint rep told me that the ESN was clear; it was simply activated on another account. Yet today, the rep said it had been reported stolen a while back. That part confuses me!

Anyway, I'd say this is a pretty good ending. Sure, I'd like to have the 70 bucks back, but I knew it was a bit of risk in the first place. As a bonus, the original owner is going to get his/her phone back, so that's got to be a nice feeling.

Thanks again, everyone, for your feedback and wisdom! I appreciate it!

- Luke

Dan
09-29-2010, 12:25 AM
Turns out it was stolen. It's a little tricky to type with these handcuffs on. (Just kiddin' =)

I called Sprint again, and after digging a little deeper, the rep was actually able to tell me the phone was, in fact, reported stolen. I'm not real sure why that wasn't mentioned before when I tried to do an ESN swap.

I moved on to some higher-up a Sprint, and he got a hold of the original owner, and essentially set up a time for me to return the phone to a Sprint store for the rightful owner to reclaim it.

What's really surprising -- and quite relieving -- is that out of the blue, the rep asked me how much I paid for the phone. I told him $220, and he said that he couldn't credit me the full amount, but instantly gave me an account credit of $150! That caught me off guard!

So that's where we stand. What surprises me the most is that when I called initially, before the purchase, the Sprint rep told me that the ESN was clear; it was simply activated on another account. Yet today, the rep said it had been reported stolen a while back. That part confuses me!

Anyway, I'd say this is a pretty good ending. Sure, I'd like to have the 70 bucks back, but I knew it was a bit of risk in the first place. As a bonus, the original owner is going to get his/her phone back, so that's got to be a nice feeling.

Thanks again, everyone, for your feedback and wisdom! I appreciate it!

- Luke

Ya know, its quite possible that the original owner will be happy to get it back and give you something for your troubles also. If not, it was a $70 lesson learned.

In the future, try and buy on ebay with paypal and make sure the listing states "Clean ESN for Sprint activation."

If you choose to go the CL way, the suggestion to get it activated on your line before exchanging cash is a smart one. If your local sprint store doesnt want to do it for you, you can typically try out the "test" laptop with the data card and log into sprint.com and activate it on your account yourself. Tell the seller you've already been burned once, and as soon as its active with no issues you have no problem handing over the cash.

ajac
09-29-2010, 06:09 AM
Turns out it was stolen. It's a little tricky to type with these handcuffs on. (Just kiddin' =)

I called Sprint again, and after digging a little deeper, the rep was actually able to tell me the phone was, in fact, reported stolen. I'm not real sure why that wasn't mentioned before when I tried to do an ESN swap.

I moved on to some higher-up a Sprint, and he got a hold of the original owner, and essentially set up a time for me to return the phone to a Sprint store for the rightful owner to reclaim it.

What's really surprising -- and quite relieving -- is that out of the blue, the rep asked me how much I paid for the phone. I told him $220, and he said that he couldn't credit me the full amount, but instantly gave me an account credit of $150! That caught me off guard!

So that's where we stand. What surprises me the most is that when I called initially, before the purchase, the Sprint rep told me that the ESN was clear; it was simply activated on another account. Yet today, the rep said it had been reported stolen a while back. That part confuses me!

Anyway, I'd say this is a pretty good ending. Sure, I'd like to have the 70 bucks back, but I knew it was a bit of risk in the first place. As a bonus, the original owner is going to get his/her phone back, so that's got to be a nice feeling.

Thanks again, everyone, for your feedback and wisdom! I appreciate it!

- Luke

sounds like rep screwed up.You should give all the information you have to the person that lsot the pone and let him take it to the next level. Was this a craiglist phone? if you said it was in earlier thread sorry its 6am my had is pounding and I am to dumb right now to look back up lol

lenny_go
09-29-2010, 08:14 AM
What's really surprising -- and quite relieving -- is that out of the blue, the rep asked me how much I paid for the phone. I told him $220, and he said that he couldn't credit me the full amount, but instantly gave me an account credit of $150! That caught me off guard!That was really cool of Sprint to have done that for you. I suppose it makes up for the original rep telling you that that bad ESN was clean. It's also pretty cool that you're able to make the original owner's day, even though you suffered a loss.

Oh well, that could have been a much more expensive lesson, so you made out pretty well, all told. :)

imekul
09-29-2010, 02:03 PM
ajac: Yep, it was a Craigslist phone.

Dan: What caught me off guard was the Sprint rep saying it was clean. I thought that at the very worst, it was on an account that had been abandoned or was past due, and thus the phone would be resellable for being flashed on Cricket or Metro.

In the past, I would almost always meet up at Sprint or call Sprint to activate the phone. Since I was under the impression the ESN was clean, I thought it would be okay to proceed even though I couldn't activate it. Lesson learned, I guess!

lenny_go: You're right; it could definitely have been worse! It's a bonus that the rightful owner is going to get it back. I'd imagine that would be a nice feeling to receive a call like that out of the blue. :)

etiger13
09-29-2010, 02:15 PM
hopefully the rightful owner will give you a small reward as a thank you since it would cost them at least $100 to replace the phone. be sure to leave your contact info at sprint when you drop off the phone.

etiger13
09-29-2010, 02:16 PM
as a side question, can a phone marked as stolen, later be unmarked? like in this case? or would the person get a new phone in exchange?

imekul
09-29-2010, 02:19 PM
I left a note with the phone at the Sprint store. I explained the whole ordeal, and then offered my contact info in case the owner or police need more info about the thief or the whole transaction.

And the Sprint rep said that the owner can essentially "unblock" the ESN and reactivate it. That's good to know, that once it's blocked it's not necessarily marked for life.

Dan
09-29-2010, 05:17 PM
I believe the flag is lost/stolen. Since he would go to a sprint store to recover the device, they can check his ID and get that flag removed from the device.

Now, if the device was already claimed as stolen with Asurion, the owner would technically have to contact them for a return kit. It's basically no different then finding your stolen car, after your insurance has already paid you for it. The Ins company can sell it back to you, but it is their property.

imekul
09-29-2010, 08:48 PM
Well, a brief wrap-up:

The rightful owner has his awesome Epic back. A brief second call to Sprint requesting a credit for the remaining $70 was successful, after I explained how I was under the impression that the rep was initially telling me the ESN was clean. Talk about customer service!

All's well that ends well, huh? God is good. :)

randalotto
09-29-2010, 11:20 PM
Too bad some jackass on Craigslist still got $220 for a stolen phone.

imekul
09-30-2010, 12:27 AM
Well, yeah, it sure was a pretty low thing to do.

I'm praying for the guy, though. You'd have to be in pretty bad shape to stoop to something like that. Certainly doesn't make it acceptable, but when somebody is doing stuff like that, they're already hurting themselves, even if they're not arrested.

As cliché as it may sound, it's true: There's just no substitute for doing the right thing. You can't escape your conscience.

dbldwn02
10-05-2010, 12:55 PM
Sprint wasn't at fault for telling you it was activated on another account. It probably WAS activated and still good but the owner probably didn't report it stolen/lost until a day or two later. If I lose my phone I don't report it stolen until I know I can't find it.

Don't blame Sprint. It's always Buyer Beware when it comes to crap like CL. (Not Sprint Beware)

UALOneKPlus
10-05-2010, 02:25 PM
Ya know, its quite possible that the original owner will be happy to get it back and give you something for your troubles also. If not, it was a $70 lesson learned.

In the future, try and buy on ebay with paypal and make sure the listing states "Clean ESN for Sprint activation."

If you choose to go the CL way, the suggestion to get it activated on your line before exchanging cash is a smart one. If your local sprint store doesnt want to do it for you, you can typically try out the "test" laptop with the data card and log into sprint.com and activate it on your account yourself. Tell the seller you've already been burned once, and as soon as its active with no issues you have no problem handing over the cash.

Dan, once you activate the ESN on your line, does that mean you're free and clear?

Can you say de-activate it a week later to swap out another phone while're you rooting / messing with that phone, and not be at risk for the ESN to go bad, since you've already had it activated on your line?

UALOneKPlus
10-05-2010, 03:01 PM
Too bad some jackass on Craigslist still got $220 for a stolen phone.

You wonder how much stuff on Craigslist is stolen... it's like an online flea market. You have to be extremely careful.

Duffman
10-05-2010, 06:08 PM
When customers call me, I tell them to meet the seller at a Sprint store, get the phone activated, THEN pay the seller.

Dan
10-05-2010, 07:25 PM
Dan, once you activate the ESN on your line, does that mean you're free and clear?

Can you say de-activate it a week later to swap out another phone while're you rooting / messing with that phone, and not be at risk for the ESN to go bad, since you've already had it activated on your line?

Well, technically you could still have it "stolen" from you.

I'm not 100% sure, but I believe if you put a "lost" tag on the device, sprint restricts the device to your account only. If another account tries to activate it, they are told the device is tied to another account. You are still to remove the "lost" flag yourself and activate it again after you play around with it.

I'm 99% sure this is right, but willing to hear from a Sprint employee if I am wrong by some chance.

chucktang
10-05-2010, 07:53 PM
i'm in a similar situation to you, at least initially... bought a used Epic off craigslist today and sprint is reporting the ESN is still assigned to another account which is showing an unpaid balance.

In my haste, I stupidly did not check ESN prior to handing over the cash (obviously completely my fault), but from checking some ebay auctions etc., even a bad ESN epic is worth a few hundred so it wont be as painful as a lesson as it could have been.

imekul
10-05-2010, 08:47 PM
i'm in a similar situation to you, at least initially... bought a used Epic off craigslist today and sprint is reporting the ESN is still assigned to another account which is showing an unpaid balance.

In my haste, I stupidly did not check ESN prior to handing over the cash (obviously completely my fault), but from checking some ebay auctions etc., even a bad ESN epic is worth a few hundred so it wont be as painful as a lesson as it could have been.
Hope it works out well for you!

Did Sprint happen to tell you how much is remaining on the balance?

rambo47
10-05-2010, 08:54 PM
This is SO common now, ESPECIALLY with Craigslist. It's gotten to the point that you simply cannot buy anything there without taking extraordinary steps to protect yourself. If you're not paranoid when dealing with CL phones you should be.

chucktang
10-05-2010, 08:57 PM
Hope it works out well for you!

Did Sprint happen to tell you how much is remaining on the balance?i definitely pushed to find out that info but they kept saying they cannot give information about the account... even when i tried to dial from the epic, and it auto redirected me to sprint account finance department, they still wouldn't give me any information. I would definitely be willing to pay a certain amount to clear the ESN and just avoid the hassle of selling this as a bad ESN phone, but apparently it's not yet an option.

Duffman
10-05-2010, 09:32 PM
i definitely pushed to find out that info but they kept saying they cannot give information about the account... even when i tried to dial from the epic, and it auto redirected me to sprint account finance department
What happens when you dial *3? Same thing?

Dan
10-05-2010, 09:34 PM
They wont tell you, due to the account privacy of the holder of the unpaid account.

I have heard some report that bad ESN's from unpaid balances are cleared once Sprint sells the account for collections. I guess, once the account is sold off for another party to collect it (could be 3-6 months or more) then they lose any interest in blacklisting the ESN. This may or may not be true, but a few long term members have mentioned this in older postings.

chucktang
10-05-2010, 09:43 PM
What happens when you dial *3? Same thing?oh wow... thanks... did not know there was a *3... past due amount of $250 :(

Dan - thanks for the information as well, though I'd probably rather just sell it on ebay as a bad ESN epic than wait 3-6 months and hope the ESN clears up subsequently. I had definitely asked Sprint what happens to the ESN after the account goes to collections but they did not have a clear answer for me.

Dan
10-05-2010, 10:30 PM
oh wow... thanks... did not know there was a *3... past due amount of $250 :(

Dan - thanks for the information as well, though I'd probably rather just sell it on ebay as a bad ESN epic than wait 3-6 months and hope the ESN clears up subsequently. I had definitely asked Sprint what happens to the ESN after the account goes to collections but they did not have a clear answer for me.

Yeah, at this point its better off flashed for Cricket or MetroPCS. I hope you can recover most of your losses that way.

Chris Kay
10-06-2010, 01:55 AM
I am currently in the process of returning my BB Curve that is tied to another account. Will update if I receive full refund or not

UALOneKPlus
10-06-2010, 05:58 AM
Well, technically you could still have it "stolen" from you.

I'm not 100% sure, but I believe if you put a "lost" tag on the device, sprint restricts the device to your account only. If another account tries to activate it, they are told the device is tied to another account. You are still to remove the "lost" flag yourself and activate it again after you play around with it.

I'm 99% sure this is right, but willing to hear from a Sprint employee if I am wrong by some chance.
Interesting.

Perhaps it's time for Sprint to implement a PIN code that is activated when you activate the ESN on your account. And when you sell the phone, you have to provide the PIN # to the buyer, and the buyer can then choose a new PIN# once they activate the ESN.

The PIN # can prevent the ESN from being "stolen", so to speak.

It seems ESN #s are very sensitive to abuse, and should be protected somehow with a PIN # or something like that.

 
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