Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Simple way to avoid cell phone scam! Buyer beware: online cell phones may be stolen merch that T-Mobile says "no longer exists in our universe"

I know.  I shoulda bought my cell phone from T-Mobile or Best Buy, but not from a third party seller.  And when my choice of Galaxy S6 Edge popped up on Glyde.com, instead of the usual $623, there was ONE for $421.  I'd been shopping for weeks.  I grabbed it two minutes later, like it was the last chocolate cookie.

Duh.  That should have sounded the alarm in my head.  Apparently, I don't have an internal brain app for Sucker Deal.  (Well, now I do.)  I went to the T-Mobile store Friday during the Royals game--expecting to be the only customer.  Instead it was like the Turkish border or a German refugee camp for Syrians.  Everything but a row of tents.  Doors lock at 9pm, the hard working staff (who at least do not call themselves geniuses, like snooty Apple does) stays on Fridays till 1 or 2 in the morning if necessary.  Who knew?

The phone was advertised as "Excellent", but Reza Niamat, the manager at T-Mobile in western Shawnee exclaimed, "This thing is brand new!"  BUT THEN REZA SQUINTED.  I should have known then.  Reza's lieutenants had transfered the contacts, and only THEN made the new SIM.  Uffda, as my Norwegian grandmother would have said.

Not only was the phone locked, it was "blocked".  Forever.  Kind of telephone leprosy.  An untouchable.  Or at least not activate-able, ever ever ever.  Believe me, I tried.  Assurant Insurance ladies are nice.  You can hear hundreds of them in a call center, all dealing with this national problem.  I was told the phone had probably been in more men's hands than a cheap hooker.  Maybe 3 or 4 transactions in short order.  From the thief to Craigs List or a bulletin board at a college, or e-Bay. (Altho at least e-Bay lists the seller, and blocks them when they get caught selling stolen merch.)

Or maybe the clueless gal who "lost" it or changed her mind filed a false claim, and thought she'd get to change brands just by paying $175 and then reselling the phone that was never lost in the first place.

Hours of research revealed, when a cell phone is reported Lost or Stolen, and the original owner pays her $175 to the insurance company to get a replacement, then the old phone no longer exists in T-Mobile's inventory.  You can't pay off the insurance claim.  It's shiny new yard art.  Filling America's landfills with "rare earth" and magnets.

Watch Lesley Stahl's story on Rare Earth, how China is beating us

Now here's how to avoid being scammed.  Don't buy a used phone until you look up the IMEI number.  Google it.  A website will tell you if that phone is BLOCKED.

And to Glyde's credit--they worked it all out.  I am sending back the Leper Phone, and they are covering the difference when I buy a legitimate one.  They checked the IMEI number before shipping it.   Good for Glyde.

And they blocked the seller.  Either she is clueless or devious.  At first I was told if she did it AGAIN, then they'd block her.  I responded, that is what is wrong with justice in the US.  Coddling and enabling.  Should we tell a murderer, "Now if you kill a SECOND person, then you're goin' to jail"?

OK, readers.  Soon I will have a great phone for taking videos to send to you.  As Shakespeare said, "All's well that ends well.  Can you hear me now?"

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