main_icn_My_Vodafone main_icn_Search main_icn_Chevron_right main_icn_Chevron_down main_icn_Close main_icn_Menu social-facebook social-google-plus social-linkedin social-twitter social-youtube main_icn_Community_or_Foundation main_icn_Location main_icn_Network_signal


Why do Vodafone make it so hard to unlock a second hand phone? Other companies don't do this.

2: Seeker

I have never been a Vodafone customer (and it is now unlikely that I ever will).

I contacted Vodafone via live chat as I was planning to buy a second hand IPhone locked to Vodafone. This is my transcript:

"Vodafone : Hi, how can I help you today?
Me : Hello, I am thinking of buying a second hand Iphone 6 but it is locked to Vodafone. How do I go about unlocking it? I will not have the original owners details or phone number.
Me : I do not want to wait a month or be a Vodafone customer.
Vodafone : I completely understand that you wish to unlock your phone so you can use your phone with the other Network Provider.
Vodafone : You can apply online for a Network Unlock Code (NUC) :
Vodafone : Once we'll received your request for an NUC, our special back-office team will send an email to let you know we're working on it. If we already have the code, we'll aim to send it to you within 48 hours. However, if we need to contact the phone's manufacturer, it can take up to 10 working days.
Me : Ok. Would there be any reason that the phone would not be allowed to be unlocked such as if the original customer had not paid their bills? I don't want to buy a phone I can't use.
Vodafone : Let me check on this and I'll get back to you, allow me 2-3 minutes
Me : Ok, thank you.
Vodafone : Thanks for waiting
Vodafone : If the owner has not paid the bill, you dont have worry, we take care of that."
After this chat, I bought an IPhone 6 locked to Vodafone. I then found that I did indeed have to use the phone for 30 days and the information I had given was not true. Vodafone will not take responsiblity for this even when I put in a written complaint including the transcript. The first complaint advisor admitted, after getting details wrong, that they had not actually read my complaint. The second advisor said they would unlock the phone if I emailed my ebay proof of purchase, then when I had done so, they said that they could only unlock it if I used a vodafone sim for 30 days...... I'm going round in circles.

 I am not going to use the sim for 30 days. I would rather take my case to the ombudsman. Firstly because Vodfone should take honour what they told me before I bought the phone. And secondly for making it so hard to unlock a second hand phone when no other company does this.


I understand the government/regulator were trying to crack down on locking practices, I think they need to crack down a bit harder on Vodafone. No other company has this requirement. For example O2 just require you to put their sim in the phone for 24 hours and you do not need to top it up. 3 don't even require you to use their sim. I would like to hear Vodafone's justification for this?



View more options
17: Community Champion

It sounds like something was lost in translation from reading the chat transcript.

I Also assume you knew that 30 days of usage on Vodafone payg is required as you raised the query in your chat.

If you've taken this to the complaint department and they have advised they cannot unlock it for you until the criteria is met then I Think it would also be out of the remit of the Vodafone Social Media Teams here. 

It's a shame you cannot ask the original owner to unlock it using their account info.

My personal opinion is that all the networks should just supply unlocked phones unless their T&C's specifically advise that a person shouldn't sell their phone until a certain period has elapsed which is what Vodafone used to do but no longer.

I wish you all the best with this situation. 


Current Phone > Samsung Note 9 _512Gb > Model: SM-N960 Hybrid-Duos.

Samsung One Ui  / Pie.


Samsung Gear s3 Frontier Watch.

View more options
17: Community Champion

Hi @tammyp19


Vodafone don't make it hard to unlock a second hand phone but like all networks they need proof that you own the phone and it's yours to get unocked.  For all Vodafone and indeed Apple in this case who would refuse the unlock, would know the phone may not be your property and could now be trying to get the phone unlocked for your own use.  Not that I am saying you have not legitimately made the purchase.


For this reason, your are asked to use the phone on the network as PAYG for 30 days, this will register the IMEI to the SIM and you won't have any issues getting the unlock processed.


Before making the purchase some research would have given all this information necessary and this is readily found from the website.  Please see this link: How do I unlock my Vodafone device if I’m not a Vodafone customer?

View more options
2: Seeker

Thank you for your reply.


My complaint is still with Vodafone but it has now been raised to 'review' - so maybe I can still be helped.


I had read on a non-Vodafone website that Vodafone had the 30 day policy, but I wanted to check with Vodafone themselves in case the information on the other website was out of date or inaccurate as is often the case. I also found it hard to believe that it was the current policy as no other company has a comparable one and there has been a crackdown. I tried to be as clear as I could in the live chat - I didn't want to end up in a situation like this! I couldn't have been any clearer. Obviously something went wrong, but that was plainly on Vodafone's part. Vodafone should take responsibility for that.



View more options
2: Seeker

Hello AnnS

1. I understand that phone companies need to protect against unlocking stolen phones - isn't that why they check if the phone is blocked! If someone's phone is stolen they block it and this shows up on the IMEI.


2. Apple don't appear to refuse the unlock from other companies who do not follow the 30 day procedure. No other company follows this procedure.

Unlocking second hand phone with:

Three - just put another providers sim and log into itunes.

O2 - Put O2 sim in phone for 24 hours and no need to top up.

Tesco Mobile - Just complete unlocking form.


I want to know why only Vodafone do this!


3. Yes I did my research and there is no better research than to directly ask the company - which I did through live chat.




View more options
2: Seeker

I suspect that Vodafone are hiding behind the 'we need to make sure the phone is yours...' as a cover for shady practice. There doesn't appear to be any reasonable answer as to why ONLY Vodafone have the 30 day sim usage policy.


I may be wrong. If there is a reasonable explanation I would like to know.



View more options