If you’re considering buying an iPad for use on the Verizon network, or already own one, the following is extremely important.
Apple advertises that cellular service for the iPad can be purchased month-to-month, and managed directly on the device. Unfortunately, this isn’t true on Verizon iPads under the following circumstances:
1. If you cancel your cellular service using the “delete account now” button, your iPad’s SIM card will immediately be deactivated.
2. If you cancel your cellular service using the “delete account later” button, your SIM card will remain active – but only for five months. If you don’t reactivate cellular service before five months has elapsed, your SIM card is toast on the Verizon network.
Here’s the kicker. If you think that reactivating the “invalid SIM card” is as simple as calling up Verizon, you’d be very wrong. There appears to be no officially sanctioned way to get self-managed prepaid service back on your iPad, though Verizon or Apple. (Note that you’ll also face this problem if you’re buying a used Verizon iPad.)
My personal saga: When my SIM card was deactivated, I called Verizon. The agents were happy to sign me up for postpaid service, with an activation fee. Since this wasn’t acceptable, I was transferred to a supervisor. The support manager, Tasheka, was surprised to hear that I could no longer sign up for service on my iPad. She escalated the problem to “corporate.” So far I have not heard back from Tasheka or Verizon corporate.
I also stopped into my local Verizon store. After a hard sales pitch to sign up for postpaid service (with activation fee), which I declined, the sales agent said she could try to sign me up for prepaid service. I would get a new SIM card on the spot, but I would have to sign up for service immediately. The activation would be handled on their computer systems, not via self-service on my iPad. No go.
I also called up AppleCare. AppleCare was unaware of the issue. Apparently, there are no engineering notes about deactivated Verizon SIM cards in Apple’s support database. I am now dealing with a customer support representative at Apple, Britani. She said she would escalate my case.
Lastly, I wrote an email to Tim Cook. This is the sort of problem that can only be solved by executives at both Apple and Verizon.
To be continued…
Update 11/27/2012: I happened to walk by a different Verizon Wireless store this weekend, so I stopped in. (This store is approximately 1.5 hours round-trip from my home.) After I explained the issue (and stating that I didn’t want postpaid service), the sales agent offered to give me a free SIM card. Of course I accepted. Based on what I’ve read on internet forums, replacing the SIM card should restore prepaid service. However, I’m not going to install it until I hear back from Apple and/or Verizon representatives. The question remains whether Verizon’s official corporate policy is to hand out free SIM cards. If it is Verizon’s policy, then some stores clearly didn’t get the memo. Still, AT&T’s approach to keep their iPad SIM cards active is a much better solution.
Update 11/29/2012: I spoke with Tasheka at Verizon this morning. She said she would call me at noon today, or the close of business at the latest. Unfortunately, she did not live up to her word. No one at Verizon called me since my original inquiry on 11/20, despite promises. I also sent Britani at Apple an email, asking for a status update. I did not receive a reply.
Update 11/30/2012: I left a voicemail for Britani at Apple, asking for an update. I did not get a call back.
Update 12/3/2012: I called up AppleCare for an update. I spoke with Nicki in customer relations. She transferred me to Debbie, an iPad specialist. Debbie was not familiar with the SIM card issue, but was very understanding. We had a three-way conference call with Patricia, a Verizon employee in the prepaid department. Patricia confirmed that the only way to re-establish service was to acquire a new SIM card. She was under the assumption that customers could purchase the cards in Verizon stores for $5. I explained to her that the Verizon stores I visited in Manhattan did not sell the SIM cards. She offered to assist with the reactivation of service with the SIM card I was given, but I explained to her that I wasn’t interested in a temporary solution. She agreed that I would be facing the same issue again if five months elapsed without active service. At the end of the three-way call, I was disconnected from Debbie’s line. I called Apple back up, but could not be reconnected with Debbie. I was transferred to a different Debbie (#2) in customer relations. I explained the issue to Debbie #2. She said she would research the case and get back to me.
Debbie #2 got back to me this evening. She received some inaccurate information from someone in tech support. (She was told Verizon iPads don’t use SIM cards.) She agreed to escalate my case to her “senior” and would get back to me tomorrow.
Update 12/4/2012: Debbie #2 left me a voicemail. She said that she is still looking into my proposed resolution.
Update 12/6/2012: I spoke with Debbie #2 twice today. She said that one of her contacts told her the iPad “isn’t used this way” (i.e. cellular service turned on and off month-to-month). I corrected her by reading from Apple’s web site (verbatim): “So if you have a business trip or vacation approaching, just sign up for the month you’ll be traveling and cancel when you get back.” Debbie also told me that it’s up to the consumer to inquire with the carrier before purchasing the product. I explained that I would have to be psychic, as Verizon does not inform customers in their terms of service or on their web site that SIM cards are deactivated. (Verizon’s web site didn’t mention SIM card deactivation when I bought my iPad, and still doesn’t.) Also, virtually every Verizon employee I spoke with gave me a different story. Lastly, she said that there is nothing more Apple can do in this case.
Update 12/10/2012: I filed a lawsuit against Apple. The trial is scheduled for February.
Update 2/21/2013: I won a default judgment against Apple.
If you need a replacement SIM for your iOS device, refer to this chart. Micro-SIM and nano-SIM cards are also known as 3FF and 4FF cards, respectively.