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"Unlocked" Nokia Lumia 920 trapped on EE

Lumia 920

By Nicole Kobie

Posted on 6 Feb 2013 at 07:00

Customers buying "unlocked" Nokia Lumia 920 handsets from retailer Phones 4U are finding their devices are in fact trapped on the EE network.

The Lumia 920 landed as an exclusive in the UK for mobile operator EE in November, but it's also being sold SIM-free via Phones 4U.

One PC Pro reader bought his Lumia 920 soon after launch in November. He specifically asked Phones 4U sales staff whether he could use it on any network. In a an online chat session - which we've seen a copy of - a Phones 4U staff member promised it was "completely unlocked" and would work with his Vodafone SIM.

That turned out not be the case. Three days later, after receiving his Lumia 920 and finding it didn't work, he again used Phones 4U's online chat support. He was told: "I'm sorry Peter, the phones are locked to EE, Orange and T Mobile."

As the once-proud owner of a £460 smartphone I'm singularly unimpressed by the performance of all concerned

Phones 4U did eventually offer Peter a refund, but he declined it after discovering on the Orange website that handsets could be unlocked after three months.

Orange and EE - though connected - are operated as separate companies, but an EE spokeswoman said they shared the same unlocking policy. However, after he applied for an unlocking code three months after purchase, EE told Peter it doesn't unlock phones purchased from Phones 4U.

"As the once-proud owner of a £460 smartphone I'm singularly unimpressed by the performance of all concerned," he said.

While he admits in hindsight he should have simply taken the refund, forum posts show he's not the only customer to take this route, or to be confused by the issue.

"Common misconception"

Phones 4U admitted that its marketing initially wasn't clear enough about the difference between "unlocked" and "SIM free".

"When we first announced [the handset] at the end of October, it was announced as an exclusive to EE," a spokeswoman told PC Pro. "We did advertise it online and in-store as being SIM-free, not unlocked specifically... however, soon after the handset launched we did realise from the number of queries we were getting that there was a common misconception that SIM-free means unlocked, and people were buying it SIM-free thinking it would work on any network and it wasn't the case."

After Phones 4U received "a lot" of complaints, staff were "rebriefed", and the website and sales material were altered. "Since that time, we've not had any complaints about it or queries about it," she claimed, although recent EE forum posts suggest sales staff continue to give confusing information.

As happened with Peter, customers were given a refund if they complained within 14 days, and anyone still affected would be dealt with on a "case by case" basis, she said.

"We can’t unlock phones and we would advise our customers from getting them unlocked as it does void the warranty," she added. "We can’t unlock that phone and make it work on any other network."

She admitted it was rare for phones to be SIM-free but not unlocked, saying she could think of no other phone on the store's website with such conditions.

We've put Peter in touch with Phone 4U's press office in the hopes he'll get a more positive resolution this time around.

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User comments

ahhhhh

Should have known he was going to get screwed when he bought a Windows phone............

total dirt with no apps.....avoid !!!

By garyc2010 on 6 Feb 2013

I'm surprised they bother selling it sim free if it's locked anyway.

By tech3475 on 6 Feb 2013

Old News

The Phones4U website has made it clear since November that the phones were locked to EE. You should get out more. And @garyc2010, please stop trolling with utter nonsense. Juvenile.

By Philip on 6 Feb 2013

WTF?

This is complete and utter tosh from Phones 4U.

They can't just unilaterally redefine the generally accepted meaning of SIM free.

By PaulOckenden on 6 Feb 2013

@garyc2010

i guess you've never used a windows phone then gary?

By sihaz2 on 6 Feb 2013

@Nicole

Are you that desperate to knock anything that is not Apple, you dig out nonsense that is months old and completely irrelevant now? You really should get out more and report NEWS not OLDS.

By vikarmo on 6 Feb 2013

Why would anyone

buy a phone from Phones4U? They have a track record of poor customer service. Its clear what is expected from a "SIM free" phone.

By russell_g on 6 Feb 2013

@garyc

Stupid comments like this should be reserved for your normal troll sites.
obviously never used a windows phone. An OS that unlike apple's app launcher, or the awful android, doesn't need apps cos its all baked into the OS. See, I can do it too.

By nickallison on 6 Feb 2013

Should have accepted the refund

Phones4U offered him a complete refund and he turned it down so they have no obligation now to refund. His own fault

By curiousclive on 6 Feb 2013

SIM Free does mean unlocked

Info for Phones 4U It has been recognised for many years now that SIM free means unlocked so you are giving false information as usual. If it did not mean unlocked all other sim free phones would only work on one operator. I have always bought SIM free and had no problems using any SIM in my phones.

By curiousclive on 6 Feb 2013

What is the point of a sim free phone if not unlock

If a SIM is tied to an operator it cannot be free can it?

By curiousclive on 6 Feb 2013

iPhone 5/CPW

Same thing happened there, you could be a 'SIM-free' handset but it locks to the first SIM you put in it. They since changed it but in my eyes SIM-free=unlocked

By EddyOS_2K9 on 6 Feb 2013

In the exact same boat , JUST sorted it

I also bought a sim-free Lumia 920 from Phones 4 u. After a delay of almost 80 days I got a working unlock code from T-mobile for £15.22.( I used a pre-existing t-mobile PAYG chip in the phone ). I was expecting longer than the normal 28 days due to the EE exclusivity period which is now over. I would either go back to EE as if t-mobile will unlock a Phones4u phone they definitely will, or go via t-mobile or Orange. Interestingly my unlocking e-mail kept referring to an Orange Sim. If I were to guess I would assume that EE lumia 920s were not unlockable during the exclusivity period, as I just received my unlock code today.

By Goodnews4u on 6 Feb 2013

Sale of Goods act

Just to note Phones4U are offering the 14 day refund because thats the period that most people know about.
What they don't tell you is that you are entitled to a full refund after this time under the Sale of Goods Act 1979. Put simply a good must be 'as described' and also fit for the purpose you asked.
So if you asked for an unlocked phone and did not get one they must refund. This is above and beyond 14 days.
If you say to them that they told you in a store that it was unlocked as representatives of the company they are expressing terms and these are legally binding - so if the phone fails to meet your stated expectation they must give a refund.

Also to note that the Act is a responsibility to obey the law, so it is not true to say that it is his own fault and he has no further redress - If I were him I would say that I wasn't aware of my full rights under the Sale of Goods Act - was not informed of them and now want to avail myself of those rights and demand a refund.

For a precis of the act go to Which at
http://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/regulation/
sale-of-goods-act/

By simontompkins on 6 Feb 2013

In the exact same boat , JUST sorted it

I also bought a sim-free Lumia 920 from Phones 4 u. After a delay of almost 80 days I got a working unlock code from T-mobile for £15.22.( I used a pre-existing t-mobile PAYG chip in the phone ). I was expecting longer than the normal 28 days due to the EE exclusivity period which is now over. I would either go back to EE as if t-mobile will unlock a Phones4u phone they definitely will, or go via t-mobile or Orange. Interestingly my unlocking e-mail kept referring to an Orange Sim. If I were to guess I would assume that EE lumia 920s were not unlockable during the exclusivity period, as I just received my unlock code today.

By Goodnews4u on 6 Feb 2013

Clearly stated.

Actually simontompkins it clearly states in big bold letters with an orange exclamation mark that only EE sims will work with this phone when bought SIM-free.

So unless he was told otherwise in-store you can't start waving the sale of goods act around.

Incidentally I bought one of these from Phones4U last October before they stated that they were locked and returned it with minimal hassle. I had a whinge as at the time it wasn't stated.

Now it is.

By SmashSeven on 6 Feb 2013

Also

To the comment that said windows phone is "tosh". I've been using it for 3 months now , by far the best OS , and app situation is improving all the time ( I already have all the apps I used on iphone/android )

By Goodnews4u on 6 Feb 2013

Shock: Sales people lie

Anyone who did some research would know the phones were locked EE models, and this has been known since October 2012: http://forums.wpcentral.com/nokia-lumia-920/201650
-%5Buk%5D-phones4u-sim-free-920s-unlocked.html

By Stiggy on 6 Feb 2013

@SmashSeven

I'm guessing that's changed in the wake of this situation. Just because it's there now doesn't mean it was earlier

By EddyOS_2K9 on 6 Feb 2013

Simply uninformed

Sales people were just not told be phones4u the meaning of sim free with respect to the lumia 920. The didn't know and made assumptions, the "clarity" of what sim-free means only came after multiple complaints. Still this lack of preparedness was nothing compared to the comical EE launch, which is the reason I avoided an EE contract at the time.
As mentioned before Lumia 920s are now unlockable with the operators, and maybe you can argue to waive the unlock fee :)

By Goodnews4u on 6 Feb 2013

@garyc2010

Looks like you have never used a WP and you are wrong it's a great OS. It's not totally dirt, and it has apps.

By henry20012 on 6 Feb 2013

@ SmashSeven

"Clearly stated."

Yes, it is. In the article:

"
In a an online chat session - which we've seen a copy of - a Phones 4U staff member promised it was "completely unlocked" and would work with his Vodafone SIM."


"So unless he was told otherwise in-store you can't start waving the sale of goods act around."

He wasn't told in-store, but he was told by an employee of Phones4U.

Read, think, post - get off your high horse and don't knee-jerk reaction just because *you* had a different experience.

By bioreit on 6 Feb 2013

@PaulOkenden

"They can't just unilaterally redefine the generally accepted meaning of SIM free."

Why not? The ISP's managed to unilaterally redefine the generally accepted meaning of 'unlimited'.

By qpw3141 on 6 Feb 2013

I guess the point of sim free in this case is that anyone with a current contract with EE could get the phone without waiting for upgrades. Alternatively use a contract not available with that phone.

It does seem silly though that the phrase 'sim free' now infers 'unlocked'. sim free should simply mean the phone is available without having to get a contract, whilst unlocked, well, is unlocked!
I am not trying to justify EEs reason, just put another thought to the discussion.

By ajf350d on 6 Feb 2013

Not all bad news

At the time it was widely known that these phones could use EE, T-Mobile, Orange and even Virgin Mobile SIMs. There was a choice of sorts.

By Stiggy on 6 Feb 2013

meanwhile - in America

In America it has just become illegal to unlock your phones at all - seems like the ability to unlock is making it too easy for customers to switch phone company and therefore negotiate cheaper deals.

Coming soon to a country near you.

By simonious on 7 Feb 2013

I had a similar issue and got mine unlocked online from Fonefunshop. Great service.

By baijp on 7 Feb 2013

It's Phones4U what can you expect?

It's Phones4U - their really poor as a firm anyway, my thoughts of the firm went really downhill when the insulted all scout leaders in their advert by claiming they were "unpopular".

Also I once had the displeasure of going into a Phones4U, was constantly harassed by sales staff whilst trying to look at phones, and even after explaining to the staff that I'm autistic and would prefer not to be harassed whilst trying to shop, five seconds later I was harassed again, which at that point I just walked out the store and went to CPW who let me just browse the phones in my own time.

By TheKLF99 on 7 Feb 2013

Only one 4G network

Since EE is, so far, the only UK 4G network, expecting a 4G phone not to be locked to EE seems a tad optimistic.

@simontompkins As a professional buyer I can assure you that the vendor is under no obligation to inform a buyer of their rights under the Sale of Goods and Services Act.

For the buyer to retrospectively complain that he wasn't aware of his full rights will cut no ice. The principle of "caveat emptor" exists for a reason.

By rongraves on 7 Feb 2013

hi rongraves

thank you for clarifying, sorry should have been clearer - the vendor is not under obligation to inform you of your rights under the act - that's correct
The second point however is incorrect. In this case the buyer is entitled to seek redress under the terms of the sale of goods act as he was told that a phone would be fit for a purpose that turned out not to be so.

By simontompkins on 7 Feb 2013

Plus ca Change

I had the same problem with O2 (then BTCellnet) a decade ago - it took a draft summons to their HQ to get the unlocked phone I had paid for. In this case customers hand over their money to EE or Phones4U at their peril!

By Mark_Clayton on 7 Feb 2013

Americacacaca!

@simonious yes I read that. 'America - the land of the FREE' Oh yer!

By Gz_jlatty085a0e2 on 7 Feb 2013

iPhone alternatives

I always check out this website for iPhone alternatives - www.microsoftapple.com - My personal favourite is the Nokia Lumia because of the camera and speed of the operating system.

By Fooey606 on 8 Feb 2013

Maybe he should learn to read?

@EddyOS_2K9 the notice was there days after my experience. i.e. since last November. Just saying. I fell for it too and was annoyed but I chose to return right away.

@bioreit Chill out chief. No need to spit the dummy.

I'm guessing if he was using online chat he's able to read English. Then I would assume that he could also read the very clear statement on the page he must have visited in order to put the phone in his shopping basket. Plus there was a lot of noise online about it around the time. The internet is useful like that.

I'm not defending Phones4U btw. Selling Sim-free but locked if frikking stupid.

By SmashSeven on 8 Feb 2013

Misleading advertising even to date!

I had also fallen for one of this, but from a comparison website "www.phoneslimited.co.uk/Nokia/Lumia+920/SIM+Free.
html", which once you follow the link to Phones4U, it will take you to "www.phones4u.co.uk/basket/ShowBasket.asp?ik=65556
3&CID=Affiliate_16559"

Notice that today is 21st of Feb 2013! and still there is no warnning or any indication on any of the sites to let you know that the generally accepted SIM Free means something else in Phones4U world!

I happen to love my Lumia 920 and since it was too hard to get hold of, I went to FoneFunShop, mobile unlocking service and they unlocked it within a week for £30, and I am now enjoying the true Sim Free!

Oh, and one final odd thing with the Phones4U... here read this with regards to SIM Free phones return... "SIM Free Phones
Phones4u does not operate a 14 day return period on SIM Free phones." here from this link "http://support.phones4u.co.uk/pe/action/km/viewel
ement?id=10100262&channelID=10&portalPageId=102560
75 " Apparently, the 14 days return policy does not apply to Phones4U!! I think they are on thin ice here as I am not sure how legal this statement is!

By Coolatzo on 21 Feb 2013

Misleading advertising even to date!

I had also fallen for one of this, but from a comparison website "www.phoneslimited.co.uk/Nokia/Lumia+920/SIM+Free.
html", which once you follow the link to Phones4U, it will take you to "www.phones4u.co.uk/basket/ShowBasket.asp?ik=65556
3&CID=Affiliate_16559"

Notice that today is 21st of Feb 2013! and still there is no warnning or any indication on any of the sites to let you know that the generally accepted SIM Free means something else in Phones4U world!

I happen to love my Lumia 920 and since it was too hard to get hold of, I went to FoneFunShop, mobile unlocking service and they unlocked it within a week for £30, and I am now enjoying the true Sim Free!

Oh, and one final odd thing with the Phones4U... here read this with regards to SIM Free phones return... "SIM Free Phones
Phones4u does not operate a 14 day return period on SIM Free phones." here from this link "http://support.phones4u.co.uk/pe/action/km/viewel
ement?id=10100262&channelID=10&portalPageId=102560
75 " Apparently, the 14 days return policy does not apply to Phones4U!! I think they are on thin ice here as I am not sure how legal this statement is!

By Coolatzo on 21 Feb 2013

Misleading advertising even to date!

I had also fallen for one of this, but from a comparison website "www.phoneslimited.co.uk/Nokia/Lumia+920/SIM+Free.
html", which once you follow the link to Phones4U, it will take you to "www.phones4u.co.uk/basket/ShowBasket.asp?ik=65556
3&CID=Affiliate_16559"

Notice that today is 21st of Feb 2013! and still there is no warnning or any indication on any of the sites to let you know that the generally accepted SIM Free means something else in Phones4U world!

I happen to love my Lumia 920 and since it was too hard to get hold of, I went to FoneFunShop, mobile unlocking service and they unlocked it within a week for £30, and I am now enjoying the true Sim Free!

Oh, and one final odd thing with the Phones4U... here read this with regards to SIM Free phones return... "SIM Free Phones
Phones4u does not operate a 14 day return period on SIM Free phones." here from this link "http://support.phones4u.co.uk/pe/action/km/viewel
ement?id=10100262&channelID=10&portalPageId=102560
75 " Apparently, the 14 days return policy does not apply to Phones4U!! I think they are on thin ice here as I am not sure how legal this statement is!

By Coolatzo on 21 Feb 2013

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