Customers confused by “SIM free” and “unlocked”

Old_chainCustomers buying “SIM free” Nokia Lumia 920 handsets from retailer Phones 4U have found much to their horror that they are locked into EE network and not “unlocked” like they expected.

Phone4U obtained the Lumia 920 as an exclusive deal in the UK for mobile operator EE. However it was also being sold SIM-free via Phones 4U.

According to PC Pro, the phones are locked to EE, Orange and T Mobile and has been offering refunds for those who expected the full “unlocked” experience.

Phones 4U has admitted that its marketing initially wasn’t clear enough about the difference between “unlocked” and “SIM free”.

Part of the problem appears that when Phones4U announced the handset at the end of October, everything was exclusive to EE.

It was advertised online and in-store as being SIM-free, not unlocked, however it started to queries that from users who thought SIM-free means unlocked.

Staff have since been “rebriefed”, and the website and sales material were altered. Since that time, the phone outfit has not had any complaints about it or queries about it,” a spokesperson claimed, although recent EE forum posts suggest sales staff are still confused about the difference themselves.

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.

Even if Phones4U wanted to unlock phones, it couldn’t and those who use a backstreet jailbreaker will void the warranty, the spokesperson added.
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.