Why do expensive electronics not use an activation system?

Just some food for thought here. If anyone is familiar with Tracfone, they are a low cost mobile phone service provider. You can buy phones for $30 and service plans are around $10 / month. All their phones require activation at the register if purchased at a B&M, and require activation online (which involves confirming receipt of it) if purchased through tracfone.com.
Shoplifted phone? Phone claimed as INR? Those phones will be bricks forever.

Now, this is being done, and quite successfully, by one of the cheapest phone providers in the US. I don’t see why other phone companies don’t do the same thing. Authorized resellers must activate the phone’s serial # on the network, or it’s useless. Customer has to confirm receipt (and confirm the serial # received) with the reseller’s system for the phone to be approved to be used on any network. INR claim filed? Reseller reports phone as lost/stolen, and it’s a brick. This can also apply for other electronics that are used online, eg. game consoles. If it’s reported lost/stolen that device is blacklisted from connecting to the gaming network.

At some big retailers, serial numbers are scanned at checkout and sent to the manufacturer. What the manufacturer does with them varies greatly. Some will not honor the warranty on a device which is not scanned as sold.

When I had a tracfone, you had to call in to activate it, the phone number was not assigned until you did.

All phone’s IMEIs are checked before they are activated. What that entails is probably company specific.

Stolen phones may not be reported immediately, but when they are, they are bricked. This is a source of disaster for some sellers who are buying from some big refurbishers. The stolen reports arrive at the carrier weeks after the phones are resold.

I don’t think that my current phone has it, but my old Motorola had that ability; all I had to do was log into the website, report it stolen, and it was bricked. Could be undone if I found it, but only with the password.

My current phone cost less than those Tracfones you mention; I know that I can deactivate it through the carrier, but don’t know what happens if the thief changes the SIM card (of course, if you have to use a new SIM card, not much benefit of stealing a phone).

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I like this general idea, for preventing fraud and theft for brand-authorized Amazon (re)Sellers brave enough to sell electronics on Amazon.

I’m concerned that manufacturers/brands would not be on board with having to maintain this system and database.

:thinking: And I’m concerned that Amazon would not allow this. Heck, for all I know, they might already prohibit this, because I don’t sell mobile phones or video games/systems on Amazon.

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I don’t see why Amazon wouldn’t allow it. It’s not the seller doing it (that of course would not be allowed, a seller can’t mess with the product to protect themselves at the expense of the customer), it’d be the manufacturer doing it across all their products. You can indeed buy software on Amazon and all of that requires the license key to be activated. You can also buy laptops where the windows license on it needs to be activated (little bit different, but similar concept).

If a company lost a bunch of license keys in a data breach, they’d most likely cancel them all and issue new ones to resellers.

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