Moving from AT&T to Ting, Unlocking, and ETF Relief

Hi everyone,

I haven't quite found a clear answer on this anywhere, so I'm asking if anyone else has done what I'm trying to do.

So I'm currently an AT&T customer with an iPhone 6 that's under contract and locked. I would like to move over to Ting, I want to take advantage of the ETF relief that Ting offers, and I don't want to be without a phone for several days.

So I can unlock my AT&T phone by paying the ETF, then start the unlocking process which apparently usually takes between 1-3 days. Unfortunately NORMALLY the only way to pay the ETF is to cancel service, I don't want to do that and then have to wait 72 hours before my phone is unlocked and I can activate my Ting SIM card in the phone (thus leaving me without a working phone for that time).

I spoke with a customer service rep at AT&T yesterday and with an manager's help I can theoretically pay it now, and the manager will use some sort of override to put it through and take my phone off contract, allowing me to start the unlocking process, while keeping my AT&T service going. The problem is that, according to this person, the ETF charge and payment wouldn't show up on my bill since it's being done via an unusual workaround. In order to take advantage of Ting's ETF relief program I need it to be on a bill I can send them (once the phone is unlocked I'll port my number over to Ting, thus ending my AT&T service).

Has anyone else done this? Is there some trick to it? Some magic words I need to use with AT&T to get the ETF payment on the bill? I might go forward with the plan anyway, and just write off the ETF relief, but that means leaving around $70 on the table which seems stupid to do if I can avoid it.

I hope I've been clear here, it's a confusing situation. Let me know if you've done this, or if you have any tips, or if you have any questions about my situation, I'm happy to clarify!

Thanks!

-Stephen

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18 comments
  • Stephen,

    You cannot bring an active phone over to Ting. If deactivate your phone with AT&T, you will lose your phone number.  You did not say whether it is important to you to keep the same phone number.

    Here is Ting's ETF offering tor Ting CDMA (Sprint) https://ting.com/etf For Ting CDMA. you phone needs to pass the FED checker at https://ting.com/byod

    I do not know it Ting would offer the same ETF for moving to Ting GSM (T-Mobile). You did not say which service you wish to use.

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  • Sorry I knew I was going to leave some things unclear.

    Yes, I want to keep my number. Yes I'm talking about GSM.

    My question is about getting AT&T to unlock my phone BEFORE I cancel my service with them and port my number over to Ting, and getting them to put the ETF fee on my bill (that I'll be paying BEFORE I cancel my service with them) so I can submit that to Ting for ETF relief. I"m well aware that I cannot bring an active phone over to Ting. I just don't want to have to cancel my service in order to start the unlocking process (which as I stated apparently can take several days. That would be several days in which I had a locked phone that was not under service with anyone.)

    The idea idea is that I will get AT&T to unlock my phone, THEN I will cancel my service by porting my number over to Ting. Yes, it is important that I keep my number.

    I believe the ETF relief is avaialbe for GSM customers at least that's the impression I've gotten from Ting customer service when I've been talking to them. Unfortunately they didn't have any helpful experience with customers getting their AT&T phones (which are GSM) unlocked before porting the number.

    I am hoping that someone here has done what I'm trying to do and will have some advice on dealing with AT&T in this situation.

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  • As a Ting customer, it appears to me that you woud need to port your number from AT&T to some temporary phone to make the iPhone 6 inactive and trigger the ETF. This is also a requirement for AT&T's unlocking policy. They require the phone to be inactive and all fees paid up. I have not heard of anyone doing this since the new polcy took effect in February. I have heard of non-AT&T customers getting used phones unlocked, though.

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  • They do not require the phone to be inactive, just that all fees be paid up. For example, if I had already finished up my 2 year contract my phone would be eligible for unlocking, without having to cancel my service, or if I had bought my phone outright at the start of my contract, rather than buying a subsidized phone.

    Anyway, none of this is my real issue. I probably gave too much detail in my original post which seems to be confusing things.

    I have already worked out a way to get the phone unlocked without canceling service. As I explained in my first post:

    I spoke with a customer service rep at AT&T yesterday and with an manager's help I can theoretically pay it now, and the manager will use some sort of override to put it through and take my phone off contract, allowing me to start the unlocking process, while keeping my AT&T service going. The problem is that, according to this person, the ETF charge and payment wouldn't show up on my bill since it's being done via an unusual workaround.

    I'm looking for someone who got their phone unlocked, ported their number from AT&T, and took advantage of ETF relief. I'm trying to find out how they did that.

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  • Sorry, you are correct.

    I believe their GoPhone must be inactive before unlocking. I did not look close enough after my Google search. 

    You still would need to have your unlocked phone inactive before moving it to ting. Do you have an old phone you could use to temporarily store your number?

    I know of nobody that has done that yet. Most of the GSM discussion has been in the public beta forum until recently.

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  • I'm a bit confused about what you're saying about the phone needing to be inactive before moving to Ting. Isn't that what happens when you port  your number? Doesn't that cancel the account and "inactivate" the phone? When I've spoken with customer service at Ting there hasn't been any mention of this extra step...

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  • Second question, I assume with an iPhone 6, once it's unlocked and "inactive" etc. that I need to use GSM service? Or can I theoretically bring it over to Ting's CDMA network? I'm pretty sure I want to go with GSM because of the experiences friends have had in my area with Sprint vs. T-Mobile, but it would be good to know if there are options (especially since there are still some things to be worked out with GSM on iPhones, like visual voicemail and such).

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  • Actually, let's table that second question, I dont' want to confuse anything. I'll be bringing it over to GSM at least initially, if CDMA is an option I'll consider that later.

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  • I just checked with Ting support. I forgot that GSM works differently.

    1. You can buy a Ting X1 SIM at https://ting.com/shop/gsmSIM

    2. Transfer your number to the SIM

    3. Place the SIM in the phone

    4. Profit!! ( Get ETF credit by going to https://ting.com/etf They are working to update the page for GSM too.)

    Yes, the iPhone can work on Ting CDMA ( Sprint). You would need a Ting or Sprint SIM. See 

    It should pass the FED check at https://ting.com/byod. If not, contact Ting support to get it accepted. ting SIM at https://ting.com/shop/nanoC3

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  • So luckily I already have a an X1 SIM! (I've had one since near the start of the beta, but haven't had time until recently to actually move on figuring out how all of the transition would work).

    Thanks for your help!

    I'm still left with the question of how/if I can manage to do all of this in an order that doesn't leave me without a phone for several days, AND gets me ETF credit, but I may just go ahead with it even if I dont' get the ETF credit. I'll still save more money in the long run by switching. I'll try calling AT&T again this afternoon and see if I can find someone who can put the ETF charge and payment on my bill.

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  • You should just be able to go to https://ting.com/account/devices

    You should see your SIM under "Inactive". Just click "activate" to start the number port. When the port is complete, you will get an email. 

    Once the number is ported, just put the GSM SIM in the phone and follow the steps at https://help.ting.com/entries/105820356-Completing-Your-iPhone-6-and-iPhone-6-Plus-Activation-#GSM

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  • Oh sure, I understand that part.

    But again, the issue I am asking about is getting AT&T to unlock my phone BEFORE I start the process. To do that I need to pay my ETF before service is canceled by starting the number porting process, which is the sticking point. I can do it, but the charge might not be reflected on my bill, which means I might not have a way to submit it for an ETF credit from Ting. Again, THAT is the thing I'm really asking about. The rest of it is more or less the way I expect things to work (but it's good to have it all confirmed!).

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  • When you get your final bill, just fill out the ETF claim withing 30 days of the final bill date.

    This assumes the final bill contains the ETF amount. If that is not the case, Ting support should be able to guide you.

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  • Yes, I know how the normal ETF process works. No need to go over that again.

    "This assumes the final bill contains the ETF amount. If that is not the case, Ting support should be able to guide you."

    That is PRECISELY the problem I've been trying to find an answer for. As I originally explained, the ETF may not appear on the final bill if I go through the process I originally outlined (if I go through the "normal" process I will have to cancel my AT&T service, pay the ETF, AND THEN start the unlocking process, which would, as previously stated leave me without a phone that can work on any network for several days). So far Ting support has indicated that i would need to find a way to get that ETF to show up on my final bill (Again, I KNOW that it would show up there if I want through the "normal" process of porting my number to Ting. I'm ONLY asking about dealing with getting an AT&T phone unlocked BEFORE starting the number porting process). I'm asking for information from anyone who had been in my situation.

    Anyway, thank you for your help Bruce. I think I understand the normal processes at this point. No need to go over any of that again. If I have a question about another part of the process, I'll definitely ask again.

    My question is about my unusual situation, that I think can only be answered by someone else who has been in the same situation. Again, the ONLY part that I'm unsure about is how I can pay my ETF early, get my phone unlocked, then port my number, in that order, and still get an ETF credit (or if perhaps that's not possible).

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  • Hi Stephen,

    It does look like AT&T makes it a bit tricky when you want to leave your contract and also unlock your AT&T device. Requesting an unlock through  AT&T’s web form has produced good results for multiple AT&T iPhone owners even when they were still under contract so it might be worth a shot and would simplify things.

    If that doesn't work, I suggest going with the manager's override solution, take care of the ETF, get your phone unlocked, port your number, and then we'll be sure to help you out on our end with the ETF relief promotional credit. I'll be contacting you via support request to follow up with you regarding that. Keep an eye on your email!

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  • Thanks for an official solution, Renny

    the ETF pages need updating for Ting GSM.

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  • Thank you to both of you! I'll try to request an unlock using the web form before I do anything else, and see if I get lucky! (That would indeed simplify things a lot!) If not I'll go the other route!

    Thanks so much!

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  • Just wanted to update: I did end up having to pay my ETF early to unlock my phone. Unlocking went smoothly, and the ETF did show up on my last bill (though it was not labeled as an ETF). I submitted it, and go my ETF credit from Ting with no problem (very quickly too!). Very happy with the whole experience.

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