Can anyone help get my phone off the “blacklist”?

mobile, phone, smartphone, app, call, talk, talking, text, texting
By | April 5th, 2017

After Emily Kenner’s phone is stolen and recovered, it is “blacklisted” by Cricket Wireless. Can our advocates get Kenner off the blacklist?

Question: I’m asking for your help. I found your site while researching the proper contacts for a company I’ve been battling for nearly a month. In short — Cricket Wireless LLC is holding my phone “hostage.”

In October of 2014 I decided, for the first time, to indulge myself with a flagship device — the Samsung Galaxy S6. It was approximately $650 at the time, and Cricket’s plans were exactly the right fit. I thoroughly enjoyed that phone, up until the point it was stolen from me on January 22, 2017.

I filed a claim with Asurion Insurance the next day and they sent me a replacement device. But the same day I initiated the claim, I was able to utilize Samsung’s tracking service to recover my phone. Now in possession of my original phone, I canceled the claim with Asurion Insurance, returned their replacement phone, which I never used, and considered the matter closed. That is, until I discovered my original phone (now in my possession) had been blacklisted.

Over the next three weeks, via literally hours of online chats and phone calls, being provided with inconsistent information each time, and at one point even being accused of fraud, I have been fighting with Cricket Wireless to have my phone removed from the blacklist. Initially there appeared to be some confusion [about] exactly which company was responsible for removing the phone from the blacklist — Cricket Wireless or Asurion Insurance. It took a conference call between myself, Cricket Wireless, and Asurion Insurance to confirm the removal must come from Cricket. Yet not only do they still refuse to remove the phone, but because of all the back and forth conversations and temporary restores to my account (so that I could make the calls in the first place), my account is now suspended. I discovered yesterday they will not remove the suspension unless I upgrade my device.

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I completely understand placing a stolen phone on a blacklist, and even advocate such a move. Yet there appears to be no precedent or policy addressing situations where a stolen phone is returned to its rightful owner. It is truly a traumatic experience to have one’s phone stolen, a situation made infinitely worse by the treatment I’m receiving from Cricket Wireless.

Can you please help me get my phone permanently off the blacklist or a $650 refund on my now-useless phone? — Emily Kenner, Houston

Answer: I know how scary it is to have your phone stolen. Mine was stolen while I was traveling in Cambodia, and I remember the concern over the potential compromise of personal information, as well as the general feeling of insecurity that probably comes with the theft of any personal object.

My phone was never recovered, but I can imagine how relieved you were to learn that yours was on its way back to its rightful owner. But to have that relief shattered by the issues with Cricket Wireless and be accused of fraud must be especially frustrating.

You reported the phone stolen immediately, which is required by the Cricket Wireless Terms and Conditions of Service, and requested a replacement. Then you activated tracking services and found and retrieved the phone. While you commented to us that it might have been better to wait 24 to 48 hours before reporting your stolen phone, I disagree. In addition to the terms and conditions mentioned above, waiting gives the thief time to steal not only your phone but your personal information as well.

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From this incident you learned one thing that we tell readers daily: Immediately start a paper trail. You admit that you should have started one as soon as the problem began. You also pointed out that a lot of different options for tracking devices and activity logs exist. You learned that software exists to force a stolen or lost phone to ring at full volume, even when the device is turned off or set to silent. These options seemed to help you recover your device.

After recovering your device, you returned the new phone that was sent as a replacement and called to get service reinstated on your recovered phone. As you mentioned in your initial email to us, Cricket told you to contact the insurance company that provided the replacement phone. The insurance company told you Cricket was responsible. In a conference call that you initiated, the insurance company confirmed that Cricket was responsible, and Cricket promised to reinstate your service.

But it didn’t reinstate your service, so you decided to try the online chat on the Cricket website.

During your first online chat with Cricket Wireless, the representative promised to unblock your phone and call back within 48 hours. Because your phone was blocked and could not receive calls you provided an alternate phone number, which the representative acknowledged when she provided a case number.

You didn’t hear back from Cricket within the 48-hour window and initiated another online chat. The representative online with you this time informed you that Cricket had tried to reach you, but the case was closed when there was no answer to its calls. Ironically, Cricket was calling you on the phone number that it had blocked and made inoperable, rather than the alternate number you provided.

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That’s when you requested to speak with a manager. The next message from the representative claimed to be from a “floor manager,” who repeated the same promises, although the manager added that unblocking a phone has to be done by the “back office,” and someone from that office would call you within 24 hours. When you asked for a phone number to reach the back office if no one called you, the manager said there was no number — you would have to wait for a call back.

You noted that you had heard these promises before, and the manager’s response was that you’ve never heard it from a manager, and she asked you to have faith in her. Turns out that faith would have been misplaced since after 72 hours your phone was still on the blacklist.

When the phone still wouldn’t work, you could have used our contacts to escalate your case with the executives at Cricket Wireless. But you reached out to our advocates instead and we contacted Cricket on your behalf.

Two hours after our advocate reached out to Cricket Wireless, your phone was unlocked, you paid your bill, and your phone seems to be working normally. You noted that you found your phone’s serial number on the internet still listed as “blacklisted,” but Cricket assured you it would be removed within 24 hours. I hope that’s the case.

I’m glad we could help solve your problems with Cricket.

  • sirwired

    I agree that it makes sense to make a try at tracking and recovering yourself before opening an insurance claim. Both Android and iOS have some wonderful features to try and locate and recover a lost phone (or wipe it if necessary.)

  • LeeAnneClark

    I’m torn between reporting the phone immediately, vs waiting until you’ve made an effort to locate it. It’s true that leaving the phone active leaves one open to some pretty nasty stuff — identity theft, expensive calls to foreign countries (if one does not have an international plan), etc. So I can’t fault the LW for immediately reporting her phone stolen…I’d probably do the same thing.

    Good thing Cricket finally did the right thing. And shame on them for dragging it out so long – VERY poor customer service. When a manager literally says “trust me” when promising to do something, then simply doesn’t do it that reflects pretty badly on that company.

  • Alan Gore

    Cellphone companies are great at providing automated services until the instant something goes wrong, whereupon you find that nobody’s home. Six months ago I accepted a Verizon offer for a phone upgrade which included getting $300 rebated on the old phone. Right after the new one arrived I sent in the old one using the included special packaging. No rebate ever showed up on my billl, and at this point I don’t think it ever will. Service is just fine on the new phone, but this is the last special offer I will ever respond to.

  • Rebecca

    I had a very similar problem with AT&T. I was able to resolve it using their rebate tracker. It turns out they contract to a third party. So long as the card wasn’t used, you can have it cancelled and reissued. Like you said, I did it all through automated functions.

    I looked and Verizon does have a rebate tracker website. If you haven’t, it’s worth a try:

  • Alan Gore

    I have tried calling the rebate center on Tau Ceti. Each time they acknowledge getting the return and tell me the rebate will be on next month’s bill. It never is.

  • Alan Gore

    UPDATE: I did a search using my 22-digit tracking number, and it tells me a tracking number can only be 10 digits. Then i did a search using my address and phone number (which was the same on the old device) and I got “No longer in the system.”

    If somebody from Verizon calls with a promise of an upgrade, do not fall for any return-old-device option. Perhaps your spouse can use the old phone.

  • Bill___A

    I find it annoying when the consumer does everything right, including saving the insurance company a claim, and then gets screwed around by people (Cricket it appears) who are not only beyond incompetent, but seemingly oblivious to the process taking place. Although it is great that the Elliott team got this handled, Cricket should be thanking the OP as well as apologizing profusely, and conducting employee competency reviews followed by intense training and follow up. Nobody should have to go through this sort of crap. I just went through a five month mobile ordeal myself, which, if people had a clue how things actually work, would save a lot of time and trouble.

  • Rebecca

    These kinds of things irk me. I did some creative googling, and FWIW it looks like lots of folks are missing $300 rebates. The ones that created a support case in the customer forum appeared to be the only ones that got their $300. I can’t get to the page where you create a case, because I don’t have Verizon and you need an account. It seems to take about a week, but they do seem to actually get the rebate to you if you submit it this way. I habe no idea if this helps, but hopefully. $300 is more than enough to make it worth the time.

  • PsyGuy

    Great now Chris helped a thief get access to a stolen phone. Okay kidding a bit but seriously scammers have gotten better and better over time about getting other people to fight their battles.

  • PsyGuy

    Employee competence? This is Cricket.

  • Alan Gore

    What I’m trying next is Chris’ own executive contact list.

  • joycexyz

    You might be able to sell the old phone to Gazelle. They gave me a better offer than Verizon–and they’re honest.

  • The Original Joe S

    go to small claims court. Put any payment into escrow approved by the court and have the judge issue an order precluding them from shutting off your service until the case is heard.

  • The Original Joe S

    She should have used the new phone provided by insurance, and took the old phone out to the rifle range and used it for target practice. NEVER try to be a good guy and help out a gang of incompetent lying dirtbags – your reward will be a kick in the kiester.

  • The Original Joe S

    Destroy the found old phone and use the new one. Let the insurance company eat it, as they didn’t do anything to help her after she saved them the money for a new phone.

  • PsyGuy

    I like that idea. No good deed goes unpunished.

  • LonnieC

    Although I just learned that if an iPhone is on “Airplane Mode” the Find My Phone stuff is worthless. A person I traveled with in Israel recently lost her phone, and nothing worked. Too bad….

  • Bill___A

    Pretty sad when it comes to that.

  • Bill___A

    I don’t deal with them now, and don’t expect I ever will.

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