T-Mobile WTF


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    Let's say you want to purchase a SIM card from T-Mobile that you want to use with a Prepaid plan.

    1. Go to t-mobile.com
    2. Select "Plans" -> "Prepaid plans" from the main menu
    3. You already have a phone, so you scroll to the bottom to the page and click the "Shop SIM cards" button
    4. Oh, nice! You can check whether your device is compatible with their network! So, of course, you do that. We can’t determine if your Motorola Moto G is compatible with T-Mobile’s network. Okay, that was not very helpful, but whatever. Just click "Add SIM to cart" because you still don't want a new device.
    5. Notice how you just added a "T-Mobile Mobile Internet SIM ONLY KIT - Micro SIM" to your cart. Sounds correct, right? After all, you want a SIM without a phone.
    6. Wait for the package for a whole week.
    7. When it finally arrives, open the package. Follow the instructions included in the package and go to the activation website, only to discover that "SIM ONLY KIT" meant that only the SIM card is included in the package, but not the activation code, which is required to activate the card for reasons.
    8. Get fucking angry and try to keep yourself from throwing your phone out of the window.

    Bonus WTF: Search the website for some customer service number you might call in case you don't have an activation code. Find two different numbers that you're supposed to call if you've "lost your activation code". On both lines, you're continuously prompted to enter the activation code. No option to speak to a real human being, no way to tell the automated system that you don't have one.

    BRB, killing the guy who designed T-Mobile's website.



  • Why does a SIM card need an activation code anyway? You put it in your phone, can't it activate itself?
    I don't think I've ever needed an activation code for a SIM card :confused:


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @MLo said:

    Why does a SIM card need an activation code anyway?

    @asdf said:

    for reasons

    Duh.



  • Fair enough.



  • @MLo said:

    Why does a SIM card need an activation code anyway?

    To activate it.

    @MLo said:

    You put it in your phone, can't it activate itself?

    No. Some external process is required to activate SIMs. Apparently.

    We buy them in bulk for the stuff we sell and it can be an utter pain to figure out whether a modem is not working because:

    1. The modem is 'broken'
    2. Someone didn't fit the aerial right onto the modem
    3. There's a break in the aerial cable between the modem and the outside.
    4. Someone's misconfigured the software
    5. Someone didn't actually bother putting a SIM where we were expecting it or
    6. The sodding project engineer didn't bother to activate the SIM card

    If we have more than one SIM on a modem we can usually narrow down which of the above it actually is, but still...



  • Isn't that a similar approach as used for credit cards?

    They probably didn't use different paths for prepaid and postpaid SIM cards. Because with the latter it makes a lot of sense to not send the activation code alongside the SIM.



  • Couldn't you just buy the SIM at nearest Walmart? (Or Tesco, depending on location.)


  • SockDev

    @MLo said:

    Why does a SIM card need an activation code anyway? You put it in your phone, can't it activate itself?
    I don't think I've ever needed an activation code for a SIM card :confused:

    The SIMs I've ordered over the years have always come pre-activated :confused:

    OK, it's not many, and they're all for personal use, but still…



  • Same here. I guess the telco activates it before sending it out then?


  • BINNED

    @MLo said:

    Same here. I guess the telco activates it before sending it out then?

    It depends, I think. In some situations I couldn't establish a data connection before making a call. After that, the data connection would start working, and I would get a "Welcome" SMS.

    I guess they put them on a "to-be-activated" list? Not sure, TBQH, but that's what I had happen anyway.


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @Gaska said:

    Couldn't you just buy the SIM at nearest Walmart? (Or Tesco, depending on location.)

    Neither is close, so I had no idea where to get one around here.



  • Well, in Poland, you can buy SIM cards in every supermarket.



  • At least they aren't AT&T, who believes that SIM cards can't be moved. One time I gave my old phone to my mother - who is on my plan. The threw both the SIM from her old phone and the SIM from my phone away and put a new SIM in my old phone so they could assign it to her.

    A sane provider would have just dropped her SIM in my old phone - or even better, allow me to do it without going to an AT&T store.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @Jaime said:

    AT&T

    Is that short for Assholes, Twerps and Tit-heads?


  • mod

    @MLo said:

    Why does a SIM card need an activation code anyway?

    The activation code identifies the card uniquely. Makes activating the card easier.

    @MLo said:

    You put it in your phone, can't it activate itself?

    No, it can't activate itself. How would it know what phone number to activate itself for? Would it just randomly select a phone number? Doesn't seem like a good method. No, the activation method is an external (to your phone) process. Someone must enter the activation code into the carrier's system and link it with your phone number.

    @MLo said:

    I don't think I've ever needed an activation code for a SIM card

    You probably did, just not knowingly. Often, if you are setting up a brand new line, without transferring the phone number, the carrier will send a pre-activated SIM. If you buy the phone in a physical store, they activate the SIM for you. In any other scenario where you receive a SIM, you have to activate it yourself.


  • mod

    @RaceProUK said:

    The SIMs I've ordered over the years have always come pre-activated

    You only do new lines then?


  • SockDev

    As it turns out, that is true. However, it wouldn't mean I couldn't move my number over if I wanted, so long as I have the right PAC code ;)



  • The thing that confuses me is, who is the SIM ONLY KIT meant for? If the sim card needs the activation code, who could possibly want to be sent one that needs to be activated and not receive the activation code? Why would such a package even exist? Usually in WTFs like this, you can at least trace some kind of logic to the process. Someone is at least getting to be lazy in exchange for a WTF.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @abarker said:

    How would it know what phone number to activate itself for?

    There's an ID — the IMSI — baked into the SIM that identifies the home provider and has a long unique part. (That's almost the only interesting thing in there.) The ID is sent whenever the phone connects to the network (at which point a temporary session key is created); the service provider then works out which account to associate it with, and whether that ID is allowed to communicate (typically, “is there enough money in the account/in credit/banking details on file?” depending on account type). There are other IDs too (e.g., the IMEI, which identifies the phone, or rather the telephone module of the smartphone more usually these days).

    In a real sense, the SIM is the phone number. Except it's all virtualised for a bunch of reasons.



  • @abarker said:

    The activation code identifies the card uniquely. Makes activating the card easier.

    I seriously hope this is sarcastic.


  • mod

    @Gaska said:

    I seriously hope this is sarcastic.

    :P


  • mod

    @dkf said:

    In a real sense, the SIM is the phone number. Except it's all virtualised for a bunch of reasons.

    Yes, but none of the identifiers you referenced are phone numbers that you can dial. I suppose you could also refer to your phone number as your account or line number. My point is, activating links your account/line number to the SIM card you are activating.



  • @Jaime said:

    A sane provider would have just dropped her SIM in my old phone - or even better, allow me to do it without going to an AT&T store.

    1. I like AT&T's policy of always using a new SIM

    2. You can swap it without going to an AT&T store. You do need to call them though.


  • mod

    @blakeyrat said:

    I like AT&T's policy of always using a new SIM

    Any particular reason?

    I'm the opposite way because I find it convenient to be able to migrate an existing SIM to a new phone, if they use the same SIM format. No need to worry about activating a new SIM when getting a new phone.



  • @abarker said:

    Any particular reason?

    It's like when you go to a restaurant, it's nice when they serve you up some fresh bread and not just the leftover bread from the last table, all covered in the previous diner's tomato soup drippings.


  • mod

    @blakeyrat said:

    It's like when you go to a restaurant, it's nice when they serve you up some fresh bread and not just the leftover bread from the last table, all covered in the previous diner's tomato soup drippings.

    So … you don't like having some of your information transferred from your old phone to your new phone via your SIM card?



  • @abarker said:

    So … you don't like having some of your information transferred from your old phone to your new phone via your SIM card?

    I don't have any infor[i]ma[/i]tion on the SIM car[i]d[/i] worth transferring[i].[/i]


  • mod

    @blakeyrat said:

    I don't have any information on the SIM card worth transferring.

    Ok, no data is stored on your SIM, which means that the SIM is only being used to say "hey this phone is linked to this account."

    Ok, I get that the SIM is the bread. What are the drippings? It's not like your phone is leaving random crap on the SIM. Your analogy kind of sucks.

    AT&T's policy (and your preference) is essentially chucking some plastic, metal, and silicon in the garbage for no reason. I cannot see any benefit to doing this.


  • I survived the hour long Uno hand

    @abarker said:

    It's not like your phone is leaving random crap on the SIM.

    No, but the company's computers might. Have you never moved someplace and had the utility people try to bill you for the utilities in use before you moved in because the last guy skipped out on his bill or the landlord threw parties in the empty unit?



  • Bad analogy, I think, in this case. Same person, same account, same phone number, just new (to her) phone. No "last guy skipped out" situation.


  • I survived the hour long Uno hand

    oh, I misread the scenario. I was thinking of the case where you activate an existing sim that came with the phone into your account



  • @abarker said:

    Ok, I get that the SIM is the bread. What are the drippings? It's not like your phone is leaving random crap on the SIM. Your analogy kind of sucks.

    Sucks like YOUR MOM when the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln comes to town!

    How'd you like THAT analogy, huh? Huh? HUH!?

    @abarker said:

    AT&T's policy (and your preference) is essentially chucking some plastic, metal, and silicon in the garbage for no reason. I cannot see any benefit to doing this.

    I care not for you. I want shiny new things.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @abarker said:

    It's not like your phone is leaving random crap on the SIM.

    Why not? It's got some user storage on there. It was originally for things like address books and stuff like that. We Don't Do Stuff Like That Now, but there's still some space.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @Jaime said:

    A sane provider would have just dropped her SIM in my old phone - or even better, allow me to do it without going to an AT&T store.

    You could have actually done that yourself if you weren't going to change the plan or anything.


  • mod

    @blakeyrat said:

    Sucks like YOUR MOM when the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln comes to town!

    How'd you like THAT analogy, huh? Huh? HUH!?

    :rolleyes:

    @blakeyrat said:

    I care not for you. I want shiny new things.

    Even if it provides no real benefit to you and you can't see that it's new and shiny? What a waste.


  • mod

    @Yamikuronue said:

    oh, I misread the scenario. I was thinking of the case where you activate an existing sim that came with the phone into your account

    What carriers reuse deactivated SIMs? That scenario isn't even possible on T-Mobile.


  • mod

    @blakeyrat said:

    I want shiny new things.

    Just another thought on this: SIM card stock doesn't turn over very often (well, maybe it does for AT&T). There's a decent chance that your shiny, new SIM is older than your old phone when you upgrade.


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @Kian said:

    The thing that confuses me is, who is the SIM ONLY KIT meant for?

    I have absolutely no idea.


  • mod

    @asdf said:

    When it finally arrives, open the package. Follow the instructions included in the package and go to the activation website, only to discover that "SIM ONLY KIT" meant that only the SIM card is included in the package, but not the activation code, which is required to activate the card for reasons.

    Thinking about it some more, this sounds like a packaging error. Every SIM I've ordered from T-Mobile came with the SIM attached to a plastic card which had the activation code stamped or printed on it.


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @abarker said:

    Thinking about it some more, this sounds like a packaging error. Every SIM I've ordered from T-Mobile came with the SIM attached to a plastic card which had the activation code stamped or printed on it.

    Then why are there "starter kits", "activation kits" and "sim only kits"?

    http://find.t-mobile.com/controller?N=1000639&Ntk=primary&Ntt=sim&Ntx=mode%2Bmatchallpartial

    Also, the plastic card the SIM is attached to doesn't contain the activation code, there's supposed to be an additional "activation card" in the package.


  • mod

    @asdf said:

    Then why are there "starter kits", "activation kits" and "sim only kits"?

    The activation kit is specifically to use with a pre-paid voice (and maybe more) plan.

    The SIM only kits are for data only pre-paid plans.

    Starter kits are for everything else.

    It's all right there in the details.

    @asdf said:

    Also, the plastic card the SIM is attached to doesn't contain the activation code, there's supposed to be an additional "activation card" in the package.

    Still sounds like you got a bad package.


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @abarker said:

    The activation kit is specifically to use with a pre-paid voice (and maybe more) plan.

    The SIM only kits are for data only pre-paid plans.

    Starter kits are for everything else.

    Even if that's all true, they still linked the wrong product on the page I visited. So it's still a website :wtf:.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    I don't have any information on the SIM card worth transferring.

    I used to keep phone numbers on the sim, so they'd carry over to the next phone. Of course nowadays they're in the google account and transfer that way.



  • @Yamikuronue said:

    Have you never moved someplace and had the utility people try to bill you for the utilities in use before you moved in because the last guy skipped out on his bill or the landlord threw parties in the empty unit?

    When I bought my apartment the power company required the meter value to be filled in and countersigned by both old and new owner during the transfer.



  • @abarker said:

    It's not like your phone is leaving random crap on the SIM.

    While not entirely random, the phone does leave some stuff on the SIM[.doc]. For example:

    10.3.7    EF-SST (SIM service table)
    Service n°1 : CHV1 disable function
    Service n°2 : Abbreviated Dialling Numbers (ADN)
    Service n°3 : Fixed Dialling Numbers (FDN)
    Service n°4 : Short Message Storage (SMS)
    Service n°5 : Advice of Charge (AoC)
    Service n°6 : Capability Configuration Parameters (CCP)
    Service n°7 : PLMN selector
    Service n°8 : RFU
    Service n°9 : MSISDN
    Service n°10: Extension1
    Service n°11: Extension2
    Service n°12: SMS Parameters
    Service n°13: Last Number Dialled (LND)
    Service n°14: Cell Broadcast Message Identifier
    Service n°15: Group Identifier Level 1
    Service n°16: Group Identifier Level 2
    Service n°17: Service Provider Name
    Service n°18: Service Dialling Numbers (SDN)
    Service n°19: Extension3
    Service n°20: RFU
    Service n°21: VGCS Group Identifier List (EFVGCS and EFVGCSS)
    Service n°22: VBS Group Identifier List (EFVBS and EFVBSS)
    Service n°23: enhanced Multi‑Level Precedence and Pre‑emption Service
    Service n°24: Automatic Answer for eMLPP
    Service n°25: Data download via SMS‑CB
    Service n°26: Data download via SMS‑PP
    Service n°27: Menu selection
    Service n°28: Call control
    Service n°29: Proactive SIM
    Service n°30: Cell Broadcast Message Identifier Ranges
    Service n°31: Barred Dialling Numbers (BDN)
    Service n°32: Extension4
    Service n°33: De‑personalization Control Keys
    Service n°34: Co‑operative Network List
    Service n°35: Short Message Status Reports
    Service n°36: Network's indication of alerting in the MS 
    Service n°37: Mobile Originated Short Message control by SIM 
    Service n°38: GPRS
    Service n°39: Image (IMG)
    Service n°40: SoLSA (Support of Local Service Area)
    Service n°41: USSD string data object supported in Call Control
    Service n°42: Support of Mail Box Dialling Numbers 
    

  • mod

    @PJH said:

    While not entirely random, the phone does leave some stuff on the SIM[.doc]. For example:

    I'm aware. That's what I would call information. Some of it you may never use, and much of it you may not be able to access, but there is some reason for that data to be stored there. Still doesn't justify blakeyrat's liking AT&T's policy.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    You do need to call them though.

    :wtf: why?



  • I dunno, something about "unlocking the phone?"

    I did it for my sister-in-law a couple years back, then just ask a couple questions then give you a 6-digit number or something and the phone can take any SIM. I'm not Super Expert Mobile Phone Man, so maybe I didn't actually technically need to do that step.



  • Oh, that would be to go to a different carrier. Yeah you would need that if the phone is carrier locked (and if it's from the carrier, usually it is).

    If you've got an unlocked phone or one from the same carrier, you shouldn't need to call.


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    I just found another WTF: If you send a text message to yourself to check whether your number works, T-Mobile will charge you for two text messages :headdesk:


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