Thursday, December 18, 2008

iPhone - "We were not able to validate your number." with free WiFi (Starbucks, McDonald's, etc)

As any iPhone user knows, we've been allowed to access free wi-fi hotspots wherever there's an AT&T hotspot (Starbucks, McDonald's, etc). That is, if your phone is hooked up properly. Well, my phone never worked and I've worked with several AT&T customer supports reps about this. This was the error message I kept receiving:

"We were not able to validate your number."

When I first called, they sent me over to Apple support, even though it was obvious that it had nothing to do with Apple - it was an AT&T account validation issue. The usual circus ensued where I was sent back and forth between departments. They opened a case and told me to check back in a month.

Fast forward a month (that was sometime last week). I called back to check in on what they'd found out. While it was nothing, I had the absolute best experience I've ever had with a customer support rep (actually, to be fair, she was tech support). She was obviously very concerned about the issue and wanted to help me find a solution. After we talked she explained that she can't stand leaving issues open - man I wish all tech support was like this.

She did her research and found out what the problem was. First, my phone wasn't in their database as an iPhone. It was an unknown phone. So she changed that. Then using my IMEI number (Settings -> General -> About), she found out that my iPhone wasn't properly registered in the different systems (I'm not sure what these systems are, but I'm assuming billing, activation, etc). So what'd she do? She changed my name in the database. This caused all of the systems to update, pushing the correct IMEI number to all of the systems.

I had to wait about 24hrs, but here I at a Starbucks with my iPhone. Thanks Shannon!

UPDATE: "If you’re posting suggestions on your blog, just tell folks to call AT&T customer service at 800-331-0500, ask for Technical Support, and have the tech support rep to make sure the system that contains the Media Net registration information shows the correct device type. The support rep will then know where to look."


Anonymous said...

I had the same issue recently. It took me 4 phone calls and an email and in the end they passed me off to the iPhone support line who had nothing to do with the phone being registered in the AT&T databases.

Anyways, what the iPhone support line and I found was the same. The IMEI number needed to be updated in the database, which I did right off the bat. BUT my device would still show up as my old phone, Motorola, which prevented me from logging on to the Wifi network.
I suggested to the AT&T that it might have to do with using my old SIM card from my old phone, which every Rep told me could not be the case. Anyways, it was. I went to an AT&T store and had a new SIM card put in my phone and activated and magically my phone now appeared as an iPhone on their networks and I was able to log on to the Wifi network.

In short:
1- Make sure the IMEI number is correctly registered with AT&T
2- If this still doesn't work, have a NEW SIM CARD put in your phone and activated.

Good luck.

Lefty said...

@Anonymous - thanks for the update.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I just resolved this after trying since December last year by taking the suggestion to swap for a new SIM. That has seemed to work after no one on the support line could help. All IMEI numbers were supposedly correct and no one seemed to understand what the media net registration system meant. I finally walked into an at&t store and asked to swap out my SIM for "reception trouble."

Lefty said...

@Anonymous - I hadn't heard of the SIM swap. Much appreciated.