Yesterday, my interest in the Nexus One piqued to the point that I couldn't contain it any longer. I had to add it to my arsenal of wireless devices. Excited, I rushed to Google's ordering page, and that's where the trouble began. Turns out, the ordering process was a bit more frustrating than I had anticipated. I review phones for a living, and as such, have had several accounts in the past with numerous wireless carriers. T-Mobile was no exception. When the ordering process got to the credit check, I was told that T-Mobile was "unable to verify my eligibility" at that time. Mind you, I don't carry balances, and I pay my bills regularly, so I was baffled.
Long story short, I called T-Mobile Customer Care, and after some time on the phone, we came to the conclusion that my having accounts in the past (though they were closed) was confusing the system. What's worse, with no direct link between Google's ordering system and T-Mobile's credit verification tools, I wasn't able to resolve the issue in the traditional ways (i.e. have them run a check, approve it, and save the credit application). Using my years of experience in wireless, I started thinking of ways to work around the issue.
This is far from a perfect solution, but for those former T-Mobile customers longing for a subsidized Nexus One, here's what to do. Get a T-Mobile SIM card, and call the Activations Department. Tell the representative that you want a postpaid account, but you have your own SIM card and equipment, and you don't want a contract. The representative will process a credit check, qualify in you in a credit class, and activate the SIM card. When asked what plan you want, opt for the 500 minute plan for $29.99 (since you're only going to have this line for a few days, the $29.99 plan results in the least amount of proration - more on that below), with no additional features. Make sure to write down the mobile phone number that's assigned to you, as you'll need it for the Nexus One ordering process.
Select the options you see in the picture above (or the "transfer a phone number" option) to obtain the $179 price tag.
As it turns out, once an account number is established, Google's (or T-Mobile's, rather) systems are able to process without issue. Once you're up and running, return to the Google ordering page, and select the "modify my existing individual plan with T-Mobile" option (see the picture above). Input your new mobile number, and the last four digits of your Social Security Number. Under the "What would you like to do?" section, select one of the "add a new line of service" options to qualify for the $179 price.
When you receive the Nexus One, call T-Mobile and cancel the line that you activated prior to ordering the Nexus One. Since there are two lines on the account (the Nexus One and the SIM card you started the account with), you can cancel the SIM card without issue (note: DO NOT cancel the Nexus One line, or you will be charged by Google and T-Mobile). What's more, since the SIM card was activated contract-free, there's no early termination fee (ETF).
As I said, it's not the best solution, but for those that don't want to spend $529 for an unsubsidized Nexus One, it's the only workaround I've found to date. My device shipped out this morning, and will be in my hands tomorrow.