Home Your IT Mobility Telstra customer claims free unlock for outright iPhone 3G purchase
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An iTWire reader by the username of “mac user” was outraged to discover that the iPhone 3G 16GB model he’d purchased outright did not come with a free unlock, but instead was to cost $150. So he did his homework and now claims that Telstra has unlocked his iPhone 3G free of charge! Has a massive can of worms just been opened for outright current or future iPhone 3G purchases from Telstra, Optus and Vodafone in Australia?

After I wrote an article entitled “One Telstra customer found a way to get a better Telstra iPhone 3G deal!”, it looks as though a second has managed an even more remarkable feat: getting Telstra to unlock his outright purchased iPhone 3G.

It could well mean that Telstra cannot charge an AUD $150 unlocking fee for outright purchased iPhones, and could even mean that Telstra needs to refund the fee to anyone that has paid it!

Writing in the comments section of that article, an iTWire reader by the username of “mac user” explained that he’d purchased an iPhone 3G from Telstra for AUD $847 – the 16GB model.

It’s probably best to quote our intrepid “mac user” for the most part from here on in as it’s his story and it’s quite intriguing.

He says that a week after the official launch of the iPhone, he decided to buy one outright. Realising they were out of stock at Optus stores, who only seem to want to sell them connected to a plan, he checked with a Telstra store, which then directed him to Telstra’s flagship T-Life store on Bourke St in Melbourne’s CBD.

So he went to Bourke street, “inquired and yes they had stock and yes they can be bought 'outright' and no they do not offer the iPhone on a pre-paid plan... I also let him [a T-Life staff member] know that I needed it outright as it had to be capable of going on my employers business plan. So I go ahead and process the order.”

“mac user” then tells us that: “Next minute the runner brings the sales guy the phone, which he proceeds to open, at which point I stop him and ask why is he opening it, he states that as I am purchasing the phone 'outright' he must 'activate' it with his 'blank' sim in his pocket, it is at this point that he states that it must be locked to Telstra network and I need to unlock it, he then states that it locks to the first sim put in the phone, so he can’t see a problem if the first sim put in is my employers Optus sim and then register with iTunes.

“This was all a bit confusing, and I ask if he has to put his 'blank' sim in the phone, and he states that it is illegal for him to let the phone leave the store without him 'activating' the phone first, so I didn't think too much more of it.

“Paid my $847.00 in return for a brand new 16gb iPhone, and a paper bag to put it in. No contract, no signing anything and no terms and conditions.

“I then get back to my office, and proceed to play with my new toy, and put in my Optus sim... Sim error (or similar) cannot connect to iTunes store.
“So I call Telstra and they put me through to the iPhone activation department, and say yes they will happily unlock the iphone.... FOR $ 150.00!!!!!!!!!!!!!

“WTF!!!!!?? I proceed to ask why and the only answer they can give is “that’s the price to unlock the iPhone” even though I purchased this 'outright' I am being charged to unlock MY PROPERTY!!

“Any Telstra phone you buy 'outright' means exactly that - OUTRIGHT, unless of course you buy a prepaid phone, where it clearly states that it is locked to the Telstra network, and unlocking charges are between $50 and $200 depending on phone.

“This is fair enough, as you get a subsidised phone, with a sim, and usually a couple of dollars of call credits, But all the other phones, if you buy them 'outright' then you buy the phone for the RRP, and walk away, no plans, no contracts, no SIM. Even the Telstra badged phones have an 'outright' price (as I bought one a few months ago for when working in non optus areas - however that did have a Telstra sim, but on a casual contract).

“So here I am with an iPhone I own outright, but cannot use unless I sign up, get a Telstra sim and start carrying 2 phones - one for work and one for the iPhone factor!

“This must be illegal, and Telstra are definitely in breach of the telecommunications industry code of conduct, on more than one point, and nowhere is this charge referred to in any of their general terms.”

At this point, “mac user” then quotes a dictionary definition of the word “outright” which includes, amongst other definitions, “without further payments due, restrictions, or qualifications”.

So, what happened next – and how does “mac user” claim to have received a completely free unlock from Telstra? Please read on to page 2.


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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

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One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks, including stints as presenter of Ch 10’s Internet Bright Ideas, Ch 7’s Room for Improvement and tech expert on Ch 9’s Today Show, among many other news and current affairs programs.