Print 27 comment(s) - last by mattclary.. on Mar 22 at 12:31 PM

Apple CEO Tim Cook  (Source:
The customer couldn't get AT&T or Apple stores to unlock his iPhone, so he went straight to Tim Cook for help

An Apple user recently ran into some trouble when trying to unlock his iPhone through AT&T, but the customer got some help from the top dog himself -- Apple CEO Tim Cook.

An AT&T customer was reassigned to Canada for his job, and decided to buy his wife an iPhone 4 while he took her iPhone 3GS. He was hoping to use the iPhone 3GS on a Canadian carrier's pay-as-you-go plan because he already had a BlackBerry that he used for work, but as an avid Apple fan, wanted his iPhone at his side as well.

When visiting AT&T to unlock his iPhone 3GS, AT&T said Apple was the only one who could do so. When visiting Apple for the same reason, Apple said only AT&T could unlock the device. He went back and forth hearing the same answers until AT&T finally told him to just jailbreak the iPhone.

The customer, however, didn't want to do that. He enjoyed the Apple user experience, and desperate from trying to achieve this goal with AT&T and Apple stores, the customer went straight to the head of Apple -- he emailed Cook.

A portion of the email is as follows:.

Basically AT&T told me that they couldn’t unlock it, only Apple could. I called Apple (but was routed through Apple Canada) and they told me “ask to talk to a supervisor at AT&T because the customer service rep won’t know the process, but AT&T definitely can unlock it”. So I called them back and the supervisor was adamant that they couldn’t help me. “Just jailbreak your phone” was their advice.

I didn’t want to jailbreak my phone, I like Apple’s curated experience and I don’t want to stray from that. However after several more calls to both AT&T and Apple, I made no progress. So I’m turning to you for a final plea.

Cook took the message quite seriously, and contacted AT&T about the matter. He instructed the company to unlock this customer's phone. AT&T confirmed the IMEI's for the iPhone 3GS, then contacted the customer to tell him that it would make an exception for him per Cook's orders. The customer was told to tether his iPhone 3GS to iTunes to finish unlocking his device.

It didn't end there, though. After successfully unlocking his iPhone, the customer received a phone call from Cook's assistant making sure that AT&T followed through with the unlock.

"Mid day my wife sent me an email at work saying, 'Um, Tim Cook's special assistant just called and she wants to know if AT&T has unlocked your phone yet??? Why does Tim Cook care about your phone?'" said the customer.

Source: 9 to 5 Mac

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I am not an Apple fan
By EasyC on 3/21/2012 11:27:25 AM , Rating: 4
But even I must admit that Apple is making progress in certain areas under the new management. Had this guy emailed Steve, the response would have been vastly different. Kudos to Cook in this regard.

RE: I am not an Apple fan
By Brandon Hill on 3/21/2012 11:40:50 AM , Rating: 5
That's AT&T's problem, deal with it.


Sent from iPad

RE: I am not an Apple fan
By spread on 3/21/2012 11:09:09 PM , Rating: 5
You're making me look bad.


Sent from iCoffin

RE: I am not an Apple fan
By DJ Brandon on 3/21/2012 11:47:53 PM , Rating: 3
As morbid as that is I about pissed my pants!! Hysterical

RE: I am not an Apple fan
By quiksilvr on 3/22/2012 9:06:42 AM , Rating: 3
Actually I saw this as totally sad. You need the frigging CEO of a multi-billion dollar company to tell someone WHAT THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO DO?

RE: I am not an Apple fan
By chmilz on 3/21/2012 11:53:26 AM , Rating: 2
If Tim was really as good as you say he is, he would have empowered front line employees to help customers instead of putting them through hell.

RE: I am not an Apple fan
By EasyC on 3/21/2012 12:03:03 PM , Rating: 1
Baby steps, chmilz, baby steps.

RE: I am not an Apple fan
By inighthawki on 3/21/2012 12:23:51 PM , Rating: 2
I have to agree. I'm actually quite impressed with Apple's behavior on this one.

RE: I am not an Apple fan
By retrospooty on 3/21/2012 1:34:18 PM , Rating: 4
Yup, hopefully Cook can start changing things from within. Jobs, for all his business acumen, was defintily sporting a major Napolean complex. Ego issues as bad as I have ever seen.

RE: I am not an Apple fan
By kleinma on 3/21/2012 1:48:07 PM , Rating: 2
If Apple had shipped the guy an unlocked 4s for his troubles, they maybe I would be impressed. This guy basically did something that Apple is probably paying someone a lot of money to do. Keep tabs on the carriers and make sure they are inline with the policies that Apple has. Clearly whoever has that position in Canada where this guy lives isn't doing a good job, when it requires the average consumer to email the CEO of the richest tech company in order to do something he should be allowed to do.

RE: I am not an Apple fan
By protomech on 3/21/2012 12:40:14 PM , Rating: 3
Similar reports of direct intervention by the Steve were not uncommon.

I agree that this should have be handled about a billion places further down on the chain of command. But in this respect, at least, Mr. Cook is carrying on Steve Jobs' legacy.

RE: I am not an Apple fan
By Tony Swash on 3/22/2012 7:58:33 AM , Rating: 1
Some people wonder why Apple scores so high on customer service polls. Here is an example why.

I installed the 10.7 Lion MacOSX update on day one of it's release. Everything went perfectly except for one problem. When I accessed the new Mission Control preference pane in System Preferences and then accessed it's second panel (to set hot corners for invoking Mission Control) System Preferences crashed. The rest of my system was unaffected but I could replicate this crash every time by accessing that second pane.

I didn't have much time to troubleshoot this problem just then and it wasn't a big deal but I went on to the Apple Discussion Forum for Lion, discovered no one else seemed to be having the same problem and noted my problem in a thread that only had one other comment which was from someone with a System Preferences problem which was different to mine.

A couple of hours later I got an email from someone in Apple Engineering in California (I am in the UK) asking if they could call me and discuss my problem and support my attempt to resolve the issue. We arranged a time to speak. In the meantime once I got the time to do some troubleshooting I quickly narrowed the problem down to one other Apple preference pane which when turned on caused the instability. The problem preference pane was not one I used at all so turning it off solved my crashes and solved my problem but I went ahead with the telephone conversation with Apple Engineering. The call was pleasant and unhurried as we discussed at length and in depth the problem, my system set up, and possible causes and solutions. I agreed to collect some data to send to Apple so they could track down the bug. The Apple guy emailed a special and small crash data collection app and I sent him back the data, we exchanged a few emails and then after the first Lion patch the problem was gone.

Now I don't know about you but the fact that someone from Apple could spot a reported problem on a thread containing just two comments, contact me six thousand miles away and then work with me, to both try to understand and solve the problem, I find pretty impressive.

RE: I am not an Apple fan
By NellyFromMA on 3/22/2012 10:19:08 AM , Rating: 2
All I take away from reading this is everyone who wants to unlock their phone should personally write Tim Cook...

RE: I am not an Apple fan
By Wolfpup on 3/22/2012 11:29:29 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah, this is really impressive. If I keep hearing stories like this...

RE: I am not an Apple fan
By mattclary on 3/22/2012 12:31:01 PM , Rating: 2

Actually the story should be ...
By ZorkZork on 3/21/2012 11:33:31 AM , Rating: 4
... that this is an exception to AT&T's rules. The article says that AT&T decided to make an exception in this case. Thus regular customers cannot expect the same service.

RE: Actually the story should be ...
By Touche on 3/21/2012 2:15:30 PM , Rating: 3
Exactly! " AT&T confirmed the IMEI's for the iPhone 3GS, then contacted the customer to tell him that it would make an exception for him per Cook's orders."


RE: Actually the story should be ...
By testerguy on 3/21/2012 2:41:37 PM , Rating: 2
I agree.

Tim Cook should have modified the process so that this doesn't happen to other customers.

By Black1969ta on 3/21/2012 10:54:59 PM , Rating: 3
Exactly, this is not a story of the little in triumph. It is a story of the same old crap; however, it does point to one good fact. AT&T unlock phones , but must need Apple's permission.

This too needs to be illegal
By Solandri on 3/21/2012 11:25:53 AM , Rating: 5
If you're out of contract, you've presumably paid back your phone's subsidy. It should be illegal for the carrier to refuse to unlock your phone at that point.

All of these problems would go away if we just recognized phone subsidies for what they really are - loans. You sign up for service with a $600 phone. You pay $100 down, carrier loans you $500 to be repaid over 24 months (2-year contract) at $25/mo ($500 principal, $100 interest).

At the end of 2 years, you've repaid the loan, the $25/mo gets removed from your service charge, and the phone becomes completely your property, unlocked.

RE: This too needs to be illegal
By HrilL on 3/21/2012 11:38:22 AM , Rating: 2
Completely agree but that will never happen. At&t won't drop their prices. I have an International GS2 and have to pay the full price even though the number its on is way out of contract. Its s scam. Wish there was a class action about this or something. I want it changed.

RE: This too needs to be illegal
By JediJeb on 3/21/2012 1:46:22 PM , Rating: 3
AT&T likes to think of it more as an ongoing lease than a loan, that way they can keep charging you for the phone even after you pay for it over and over. That is one of the reasons I still use my Moto V3 because it is paid off and I don't want to be paying over and over for something new, plus it still works just fine :)

By carigis on 3/21/2012 11:33:29 AM , Rating: 3
as att is not enforcing a uniform standard in thier unlocking policy by making an exception for some but not for the rest of thier customers? causing other customers to lose thier phone while allowing some others to keep functionality and not be out the cost of the phone.. I agree with the poster above... it should be illegal to keep a phone locked after the contract.

That's how you get it done.
By Dean364 on 3/21/2012 11:26:40 AM , Rating: 2
Full of Win.

Customer Service
By chmilz on 3/21/2012 11:51:57 AM , Rating: 2
is dead and gone. Pathetic that it had to get to a CEO for a little conflict resolution. When I last worked retail years ago, if a customer came in unhappy, I just solved the problem and sorted out the details with my boss after. Not coincidentally, I was one of the top department managers in the country based on sales and profit, and I assume it's because people enjoyed buying from me so I earned repeat business, referrals, and upsells.

By Adam M on 3/21/2012 5:28:03 PM , Rating: 2
I know there are technical limitations due to the various forms of antennas and signals. Beyond that we should have the right to switch carriers as we please. The phone is mine regardless of my commitment status. If I wanted to break contract(and pay early termination fees) I should be able to switch companies. When my contract ends either on schedule or if I brake it on a whim, my phone should automatically be unlocked. I haven't been thrilled with service from Sprint, especially when it comes to Customer Service, I would love to research other carriers, even smaller regional carriers, but I would have to root my phone do so and I probably wouldn't get full functionality.

By djdjohnson on 3/22/2012 12:50:54 AM , Rating: 2
This story doesn't sound plausible to me. AT&T would never do anything evil or greedy.


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