An ESN is an “Electronic Serial Number” which is used by CDMA carriers (Verizon and Sprint in the US) to identify the owner of a phone. GSM carriers like AT&T and T-Mobile use an entirely different method, with a removable SIM card to identify the phone on the network, but CDMA phones don’t have a SIM. If the owner of a CDMA phone doesn’t leave their account in good standing, the carrier will flag their ESN as “bad” and that phone will not be able to be enrolled with that carrier again, even for a new owner.
Some of the circumstances that will result in a phone having a bad ESN are:
- The subscriber didn’t pay their final bill
- The subscriber switched carriers and didn’t pay an early termination fee
- The subscriber stopped using the phone service without formally terminating the service contract with the carrier
- The phone was reported lost or stolen to the carrier
Because a phone with a bad ESN can’t be re-enrolled on its carrier, it’s not worth as much as a phone that was terminated in good-standing. If you turn in a phone to Mobixa with a bad ESN, the good news is that we can still buy it from you. We will, however, deduct a $25 “Bad ESN fee.” If you are uncertain whether your phone’s ESN is good, we’d recommend calling your carrier before sending it to Mobixa to make sure your account is in good standing.
So what can a bad ESN phone be used for? All of the parts on the phone except the logic board can be used, so many people will use a bad ESN phone for parts. It’s also sometimes possible to resurrect a bad ESN phone by contacting the carrier and paying off any remaining balance.
Please contact us if you have any questions about your phone’s ESN.