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Pitfalls when buying a BlackBerry from Ebay

January 28th, 2008 by James · 20 Comments

BlackBerry produce a range of popular mobile phones that have a instant email function. Purchasing a new or used BlackBerry from a seller using Ebay may seem a low cost way of owning a BlackBerry smartphone. In this short article I will highlight some of the pitfalls in doing so, and how to avoid them…

Ebay Seller-Reputation

Of course you should vet your seller who should offer PayPal and have good feedback, for advice on vetting your ebay seller see this article.


In contrast to other mobile phones which use just a IMEI to identify your phone, BlackBerry smartphones also have a 8 character alphanumeric code confusingly called a PIN which looks like this ‘123AB1AB’. This code is required when you register the phone on the network with your mobile service provider to enable email and data usage.

This PIN is not private like a ATM PIN, and can be freely given out to other BlackBerry users to allow instant messaging and email.

It is this PIN which ties your email account with your phone. If the phone purchased is refurbished/second-hand and the previous owner has registered the phone for email usage, it is possible that you will not be able to re-register then phone for email until the previous owner and/or service provider releases the PIN for your use. This will stop you from using your phone as a email device.

Data Plan

With most service providers in the UK you will not be able to access the internet, (even if you have an unlimited data package), without paying a specific BlackBerry fee or BlackBerry Tax. This prevents you from using the email or internet functions of your phone on Pay-as-you go accounts. You will not be able to access the internet without paying a monthly fee to use the BlackBerry mail service. †


With a normal GSM phone eg Nokia N73 with T-Mobile(UK) you can surf the web and pay either £7.50 a month for a 1 gigabyte/month data allowance or pay for data at 0.73p/kilobyte capped at £1 per day.

With a BlackBerry, you can only get access to the internet by first paying the BlackBerry fee of £10 per month, which gives you 60 megabytes of email plus a small 2 megabyte monthly internet data allowance.

Any additional data is charged at £7.30 per megabyte, or you can pay a secondary fee for Web’n’Walk.

Prices with T-Mobile Cost/Month BlackBerry Data Allowance Internet Data Allowance / month Run on rate
BlackBerry Internet Service £10.00 60 MB 2 MB £7.30 per MB
Web’n’Walk handet option eg Nokia Phone £7.50 n/a 1000 MB n/a

This makes using a BlackBerry a expensive option if you wish to use the internet compared to other smart phones.


BlackBerry smartphones purchased from RIM directly come with a 1 year warranty. If you purchased your smartphone elsewhere, for instance, from your service provider, any warranty claims will need to be filed with them.

If the shop/business that supplied your smartphone went out of business or is not traceable neither T-Mobile (UK) or BlackBerry (UK) will honour a warranty claim.

Even if a phone is “Operator Branded” eg. T-Mobile (UK) and is purchased brand new, do not rely on this meaning that T-Mobile will honour any warranty.

Network Lock

Many BlackBerry smartphones are supplied with a network lock which prevents them from being used on other networks. Some third party companies offer a service to remove a network lock, though this may invalidate your warranty.


  1. The decision to purchase a BlackBerry smartphone should not be taken lightly. Unlike other mobile phones BlackBerry devices are inflexible and can not access the internet via WAP/EDGE/GPRS without paying a monthly fee to BlackBerry. †
  2. Any smartphone which you buy should not be locked to a network, unless you intend to use that phone on the specified network.
  3. If your smartphone has been used or refurbished, ensure that the PIN has never been registered. If it has and the previous user and network operator does not consent to its release you will not be able to gain access to email and other functions.
  4. Consider any BlackBerry you purchase to be without Warranty, unless you buy it directly from RIM, your service provider or you can be confident that the retailer will be in business in 12 months time. For this reason I would only recommend purchasing directly from your service provider.

† O2(UK) offer a pay as you go data tariff at £2.70 per megabyte.

Tags: BlackBerry

20 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Ben // Mar 14, 2008 at 8:44 pm

    Very interesting post. I got my 8800 from eBay about 6 months ago, it worked out much cheaper than paying my network provider for an upgrade.

    Just a note: You don’t need the BIS to use your blackberry. I’m on orange and I don’t have BIS but I can still use my Blackberry on the internet using the Opera browser. Admittedly I can’t use it for email, which is a bit of pain!

  • 2 Suie Carter // Sep 5, 2008 at 8:37 pm

    My blackberry highlights and then I dont know how to get the highlight off How do I do this please?

  • 3 James // Sep 5, 2008 at 9:05 pm

    What do you mean by highlight?

  • 4 Rog // Oct 1, 2008 at 9:59 pm

    I have a Blackberry 8830 and it is still under warranty but the Charge port is messing up and my service provider will not warranty it. Just because they say it is my fault, i charged it wrong, I never knew that charging it with the charger that came with it and only charging it at night when im asleep is improper use.

  • 5 Venkat // Dec 13, 2008 at 3:59 pm

    So., If I buy a BB from eBay in US and want to use it in other country. not on roaming, but want to use it with a diff service provider in another country. then what all i need to take care? Does unlocking prohibit me from using the BIS?

  • 6 Scotfan // Feb 1, 2009 at 8:45 am

    I have bought a 8820 on e-bay, being, of course, unaware that the previous owner should release the PIN. I unlocked it from Orange and have an unlimited data plan from O2. I can and I do access the Internet through either a WiFi or EDGE. Bearing in mind that I use webmail only, do I need a BIS account at all? If I do not have a BIS account, am I nevertheless paying any fee to RIM of which I am unaware?

  • 7 James // Feb 1, 2009 at 10:51 am

    If the phone is working and you are happy with webmail then there is no need to pay for BIS. (My 8100 didn’t have a browser until I paid, whereas my 8310 did) On some locked phones until you contact your network provider you don’t have any access to a browser though it is possible to download a third party application such as opera mini.

  • 8 David Bloor // Feb 27, 2009 at 12:35 pm

    I have a blackberry curve without a BIS account. I have email push using bb email client, bb native browser and also opera. I can download links, apps etc using the bb browser. I achieved this by following this link-

    For push i use Shangmail which sits in the background and integrates with the bb email client.

  • 9 Kelly // Jun 2, 2009 at 3:12 pm

    i just purchased a bbpearl 8100 and i wish i read this befroe i got it on ebay because i am not able to get browser/internet on it at all because like you said that pin must of been given out to someone else because my carrier says theres nothign that they can you have any solutions????

  • 10 Tejas // Jun 26, 2009 at 11:15 am

    Very True. I bought it from Ebay and they had not even supported me. They said after 45 days, we will not help, you directly deal with Seller. And Seller was not having interest in reparing also. We generally purchase from ebay to have cometitive deal but at the end , we are receiving poor material. Good Job, Mr James for spearding awarness amongs the world.

  • 11 C-d // Nov 18, 2009 at 11:02 am

    i just bought a red blackberry curve 8310 off ebay and after reading this i am scared that it is not going to work. i am on a contract and all i wanted to do is have a new phone. so will the new blackberry i have bough accept my sim? also does it mean that i cant use the phone for normal messaging without the PIN? im so confused

  • 12 Trevor // Jan 3, 2010 at 6:04 pm

    If I buy a BB from ebay, will I have to pay the BB fee, even if my plan is only talk and text?

  • 13 Rebecca // Jan 18, 2010 at 10:58 pm

    Im buying a blackberry curve 8520 of ebay , its brand new hasnt been used and its a good price. simlock has been unblocked… when i buy this im not on contract or nothing and i was thinking of just getting a new sim card but what would i have to do to get bbm and how would i pay it if im pay as you go ? the person who is selling the phone says nothing about bbm im worried but the phone is brand new? if i get the phone where would the PIN i used be stored?

  • 14 DAVID // Jan 26, 2010 at 7:25 pm

    The pin is stored under Options>Status. If it’s been registered though you won’t be able to use all the features as I understand it. I have one and only have a O2 simplicity SIM, I can use the internet on it with the normal browser but Opera Mini is far better. I can’t use Messenger / Email though. Personally it doesn’t me because I’m happy to use webmail and not fussed about messenger but like I say, you wont get all the features a BB has buying off ebay. I to wasn’t aware of this when I bought one from there.

  • 15 Dean // Mar 22, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    I have just bought a Blackberry from a friend and it must be a business one or something as i cant seem to use BB messenger or set up the blackberry with my personal email, when i go to set it up it just has the one option to set up a work email. Can anyone help me on how to fix this or can i not. Will i just have to use the web email via WAP to access emails?

  • 16 Cathy // Feb 9, 2011 at 5:41 pm

    I bought the Blackberry Torch on ebay recently. I had to take it to a O2 shop because I couldn’t make/receive any calls & couldn’t send/receive texts. I can now get emails & facebook but the assistant said the phone has been blocked & I have to contact the seller – I did but I’ve had no reply.
    What do you suggest I do? Can I go to one of those ‘phone unlock’ shops on the high street?
    Please help, I’ve spent a lot of money on something that doesn’t work properly, I’ll welcome some advice!

  • 17 Jack // Feb 14, 2011 at 10:27 pm

    Would somebody be able to give me any advice on a BB I just bought from ebay?
    I’m not sure on a few things.. Thanks.

  • 18 danny // Mar 2, 2011 at 10:46 pm

    TO CATHY! did you pay using paypal? contact them and start a dispute! Sounds like the phone has been blocked/blacklisted in the UK.

    You should be protected by:
    1.Ebay/paypal chargback (if used debit card)
    3. consumer protection through credit card (if you used one)

    Speak/research into this to get your money back.

    I just brough a BB bold 9000 too – will be asking seller whether pin is registeres 😮 :0

  • 19 Usman // Dec 4, 2011 at 8:52 pm

    Hi, i’ve just bought a blackberry bold 9700 off ebay, when it comes can i unlock it (as it is already on orange) and use a o2 sim? and whats all this ‘activate’? can i just put a PAYG sim in it and use text and web? Please advise, Thanks alot

  • 20 Brock wesner // Mar 2, 2013 at 4:55 pm

    Hi, i bought blackberry 8100 from ebay yesterday. can you please check how can i check if it is really made from blackberry. I could see imei # inside the phone. Can i do something with this to check its originality. pls send comments to my email id. thanks 🙂

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