The CBC reported yesterday that Bell has officially expanded its phone unlocking policy to include devices not currently associated with an active account—in other words, second-hand phones intended for use on another network.
A CRTC mandate had ordered all carriers in Canada to drop unlocking fees as of December 1st, 2017; Bell apparently decided that this ruling didn’t apply to non-customer hardware, which non-customers only found out when they tried to get their used phones unlocked:
In December, Dean Belanger contacted the telecom to get a second-hand Bell-locked phone unlocked for free. But when he called Bell, he says he was turned down because he had never had an account with the telecom.
Belanger says he ended up getting the device unlocked by calling Virgin Mobile — which is owned by Bell — and pretending that a past Virgin account he had was tied to his Bell-locked phone.
“I was quite surprised that they wouldn’t do it unless I had an account,” said Sophia Irons, who tried in December to get Bell to unlock a Bell-locked phone she had bought on Kijiji.
She ended up requesting help from friends on Facebook, and managed to find a Bell customer willing to call the telecom and get her phone unlocked.
A representative from Bell told the CBC that the carrier has implemented a system of further checks to ensure that any non-customer device was not stolen or linked to a delinquent account. This was their previous justification for refusing to unlock their phones for other networks.