Making the best use of that second hand BlackBerry

Tour Storm
By Jared DiPane on 15 Jul 2011 09:05 am EDT

As we all know, keeping up with devices can be a difficult task. Carriers requiring us to lock into two or three year contracts to get affordable pricing, then dropping a new device the next year, and many of us take to the second hand market to keep our device addiction more affordable. Have you ever bought a used device and had trouble activating the BIS service because the PIN was still tied to the previous owners account? Or ever had tons of requests from the previous owners BBM friends? Well, there are a few simple steps you can take once you purchase that second hand BlackBerry that will enhance your experience and take away from some of the confusion that you may experience.

So you found that new BlackBerry that you want to buy, the condition is good, and it is in your price range, and after a few email exchanges with the seller you are ready to send the money. Well, there are a few things you may want to check on and ensure they are completed prior to sending the money. First thing, if the device is a CDMA device (Verizon, Sprint etc.) ask the seller for the ESN and call your carrier to ensure that it is clean. A blacklisted ESN (one that has been reported lost or stolen) will be absolutely useless to you, as the carriers will not activate it, and the only way to correct it is for the original purchaser, which may not be who you bought from, call the carrier and reverse the lost or stolen claim.

Whether a CDMA or GSM device you will want to ask the previous owner to release the PIN from their BIS account, and they can usually do so by simply calling their carrier and asking them to have it removed, should only take a few minutes on the phone and they can have it accomplished. This will allow you to easily activate the device once you have it in your hands since it can only be tied to one account at a time.

Now that you have the device in your hands, and activated on your carrier there are a few more steps you will want to take to ensure that the device is 100% ready for your uses. A good first step once the device is in your hands is always to factory reset the device, and some great information on that can be found here, and if you want to completely remove the OS, and install something else, some great information on how can be found here. If the device has previously been tied to a BES account, odds are that there are still IT Policies attached to the device, which can hinder the use of some of the features of the device, depending on how they are set. You will want to remove those prior to adding all your information to the device, and checking if they are there is quite simple. Go to your options, then security and here you will see if there are policies attached, and if so you will need to have them removed. To remove these from your device check out some of these forums threads with various methods which have been around for quite some time, and worked for a number of users, and after doing this you will be able to use the device on your BIS account without issue.

One thing you may notice through the course of your use of the device is that you may get random BBM requests from the previous owners contacts if they did not update their PIN to everyone, or had it posted in other places, such as our very own Social Forums, and there are a couple of ways to handle this. The simplest way to handle this would be to set a security question to be displayed on BBM invite requests, so only people who actually know who you are and can answer the question will be able to answer it. To do this simply launch BBM, press menu then scroll to options and scroll to the bottom, the last option will be to display the security question, adding this will prevent random requests. If you want to keep it open you can ignore requests as they come in if you don't know the name, and you are able to ignore future requests by checking the box when the person requests, if you happen to receive multiple requests from the same person.

If you are in the market for a new to you, slightly used BlackBerry, or have recently purchased one that you have been having a bit of trouble with, hopefully this will assist you in getting your device up and running smoother, and help solve a some of the issues you may have run into. When in doubt, or experiencing something else that is not shown above, hop into the forums, as we have millions of members who are around with tons of experience and are always willing to help you out and solve your issues!

Jared DiPane Jared DiPane "News Writer for Mobile Nations
Father | Husband | Chipotle Addict"
319 (articles) 6102 (forum posts)

Reader comments

Making the best use of that second hand BlackBerry


you dont need to get the network to release the bb pin anymore, the new BIS settings links the pin to the sim card, so new sim card equals fresh start!

bought 3 3nd hand bbs on ebay for testing and is a good way to find cheap devices! especially when they spell BlackBerry wrong so doesnt show in main ebay listings :)

I confirm that. There's no need for calling your carrier to release PIN, just insert your sim card (with active BIS) to your new device and "voila" :)

I can also confirm that this works...even with a CDMA/GSM device like my Bold 9650...I take it abroad..put in a prepaid BIS like a charm...then come back home and connect to Sprint BIS over problems there either (except when registering e-mail addresses but that's another issue)

Aside from this post, Kev when are we going to see the first run of the 9900 that you got a few days ago? :o)

When are we going to see any good info from his trip? he had lots of fun and has been very selfish... :-(

I don't think Kevin was able to keep the 'lifted' 9900.
Read his own words " I decided it was time to take the matter into my own hands to make sure I left RIM with a new Bold 9900 in hand. I'm happy to say I succeeded in attaining a Bold... even if only for a *few* seconds. Watch the video above to see the action unfold..."

My friends always wonder how I can afford to have the newest blackberry. Well crackberry users and abusers I'm going to share an AWESOME lifehack.

Purchase your device of choice on a 3 year contract.

Enjoy your phone responsibly for the next 6-10 months (whenever the next device is released)

Call your carrier and explain that the speakerphone or headphone jack is not working and advise you have reloaded the OS to the latest carrier supported OS. You want to make sure the agent understands you are a proficient user and you have attempted everything to locate the problem. Once they realize you are talking about a hardware problem and not software they will offer to ship you a replacement in the mail free of charge. Now you have 30 days to return your old phone, do not use the new replacement phone, take pictures of it and put it on ebay, craigslist, kijiji, office post board etc. and advertise it for the same as the current contract price, usually it will still be the same as what you paid, so all you lose is the activation fees. It works out as a great deal for the buyer since they get a brand new BlackBerry for contract price with no contract.

Now call your carrier and request a new three year contract and a new phone on contract price. They may be reluctant to do this. Tell them OK I'd like to cancel my service. They will transfer you to a retention specialist, tell the retention specialist this "I spend X amount of dollars a month, this phone is worth about 300 dollars, if you won't give me a new contract and a new phone I will cancel my contract pay the ETF fee and sign up with X carrier" Done and done, new phone on the way new contract set up.

this formula is why it works
X = carrier loss
M=Months left on contract
B=Monthly Bill

(B x M) - Y = X

if X is a positive number it is in the carrier's best interest to put you on a new contract.

it usally looks like this for me

(100 x 30) - 350 =2650

So in theory the carrier would lose 2650 in revenue if they dropped me.

Even with a cheap plan this works

(30 x 24) - 350 = 370

Good Luck!

Claiming your device is broke, when it's not, is fraud. They have the right to charge you for the full device if they find out it's not faulty and you knew that. Obviously they have a hard time telling if it's "fraud" or not, but that doesn't make much difference.

And that whole signing a new contract thing is extortion. Using your leverage as a customer to basically make them give you a new contract is using your position to get money (basically).

Both of those things are illegal, and should not be done. Quit being a cheap thief, and buy a device. New or used, or maybe just wait until the end of your contract to update your device.

Didn't realize you guys were all a bunch of losers.... Guesss I should have posted this on lifehacker, it's not extortion it's called getting what I deserve, if I'm willing to sign another 3 year contract I deserve a new phone, and if I have to "extort" a multimillion dollar company to get by in this day and age so be it. Get a set of balls and stop bending over for the world to creep into your anal cavity. And big deal if it's "fraud" they refurb the phone which costs very little as its just cosmetics then they ship that phone out to jerks like me. Have fun being suckers everyone!

You deserve what you can pay for. If you don't like signing a contract, pay full price. The phone companies deserve to get paid what they do (if you don't like how they do business, don't do business with them, and by that I mean don't get a phone) because they offer a service which costs them money. The phone manufacturers also deserve to get paid what they do for making a phone which also costs them money.

It's your exact sentiment that is ruining the American economy, culture, and gov't.

I'll enjoy being a "sucker" and earning the things I have.

better yet...get a toy gun, run into a local quicky mart and ask for the money in the register they should have enough for your new device, if not repeat next door. you'll notice they wont argue much and best part NO CONTRACT...


I have a broken Curve 8330. It keeps rebooting like a battery pull every once in a while. I got it sent away two times and it has still not fixed the problem. I can't even get a refurbished one. The cairrer said my only options were 1) keep my Curve till the end of contract, 2) pay the cancellation fe and get a new contract, 3) get a replacement phone at my own expence and pay a $30 charge. I'm not even kidding, that's what they said. So I don't think all carriers would go for that, personal experence.

Hence why Sprint is the smallest of the Big Four / Three... That is bogus. They should put you in a Tour or better.

you didn't read the post you need to tell your carrier it is a HARDWARE issue, your device rebooting is considered a SOFTWARE issue, LEARN HOW TO READ!

no, it's a blackberry, the contractual obligation between carrier and RIM is to replace a device within 48 hours because RIM is about business people and business people don't have 6 weeks to wait for their phone.

or you can just sell your 1yr old (unlocked) phone to cover the $200 to get the newest one with contract renewal

I go a different way. I use them to get family members on the "crack". My mother, father, sister, uncle, and sister's fiancée have last-gen BlackBerries now. So far, my mother and uncle have upgraded into newer BlackBerries on a contract because of this. The others continue to carry the original last-gen BlackBerry I gave them. It works because (1) Apple and RIM devices don't fall apart. HTC, LG, Samsung, and Motorolas do, (2) People hate commitment and signing a contract on a smartphone when you carry a dumbphone is a lot of commitment. Me giving them one isn't, (3) On carriers with tiered data, you can get the smallest data plan available with a BlackBerry device, (4) BlackBerries are at their best when they are older. The Storm 1 (my father's and sister's fiancée's) runs exponentially better now than it did at launch. Same for the Torch. To a degree, same with them all. My hope, and what is shaping up to be, is that they all wait and wait until the current devices finally give up. At which point, they pick up new Torches and "Torches" with OS 7, which IMHO is the singular best device in North America for communications-centric people.

My father showing off his Storm 9530 (unlocked and activated on T-Mobile) makes me grin and cringe at the same time. He loves his Gmail and police scanner, though. LOL