Beware of buying iPhones from Gazelle! Phones are not guaranteed to have clean IMEI/ESN!

in iPhone edited November 2014

tl;dr Phones sold by Gazelle can still be blacklisted.


I purchased two iphone 5's from Gazelle last December 2013, for a Christmas gift for my mother-in-law and one for my wife.


A few days ago, my mother-in-law contacted me to tell me the phone was no longer receiving service.


After trying everything I could find about fixing it, I finally contacted T-Mobile, and discovered that the phone's IMEI has just been blocked due to non-payment by the original owner(!)


Just to clarify, this phone has been in daily use since Xmas Day 2013 (~11 mos)!

The T-Mobile rep told me that the original owner had been making payments all this time, but recently closed their account, and were sent a final bill. The bill was 10 days past due and at that time T-Mobile automatically blacklists the IMEI.


I bought these phones specifically from gazelle and paid more for them as a result, as I believed they were essentially guaranteed against this sort of thing.


I even contacted them before my purchase asking them if their phones were checked:

"Thank you for your interest! We do test all items to confirm availability for activation by you upon receipt. Unless otherwise noted in the listing, this item has been tested and is clear."


It turns out, this doesn't mean the device will remain that way after you receive it. An important fact that they continue to omit in their eBay listings.


I contacted their support yesterday and was told that the unit is outside of their 30-day return window and they can not help me further.


As far as I'm concerned, they didn't actually sell me anything. They sold a device that still had a lien against it, and now that it is blacklisted, I basically paid $400+ to rent it for the past 11 months. Technically, this iPhone is still the property of T-Mobile...Gazelle basically sold me stolen merchandise.


I've since opened a complaint with the BBB and am hopeful they will come to a resolution on this issue.


Moral of the story is: Don't think that just because you're buying from a bigger operation, that your phone is free and clear and ownership has been legally transferred to YOU.


Buying from these sites is really not any different than craigslist or a random seller on eBay.


The only way to really guarantee your device is free and clear forever is to buy a new one.

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