I was able to successfully resolve a similar problem.
AT&T approved my unlock nearly 5 months ago and since then we tried repeatedly - using every method suggested here and elsewhere- but we never got the Congrats message and the phone did not work with other SIMs (such as TMobile and SIMs bought and used outside of the US).
AT&T wouldn't talk to us because we were no longer customers. After about 40 restores (and after follwoing every suggestion offered in Apple Discussions and elsewhere online) and 5 months of this headache we gave up. Then one late evening recently I went to the Apple's Genius Bar. I took all the paperwork, which inlcuded a printout from AT&T's website which showed that the request for unlock had been approved 5 months ago, and my laptop which showed that we had been restoring in futility since then. After much, much imploration and with Apple's help, my problem was finally solved.
Apple opened a case for me. Through Apple's Customer Care I was put in touch with AT&T who verified that all was ok at their end and the request had been approved. Apple took over again from there and adjusted things at their end. All of this happened in one long phone call - I did not have to call Apple and AT&T separately. Three days later my phone was unlocked.
Moral of the story: There are legit instances when an official unlock from AT&T does not go through. Once the unlock is approved, the conversation that needs to happen between the phone company and Apple sometimes never happens - and your phone remains locked despite the approval. If you find yourself in this situation, do one or more of the following things:
- put in another request with your phone company (if you can) and try Restoring again. I understand that for many people this is not possible since they purchased the phone from an original owner.
- Go to the Apple Genius Bar and try to go when they are not too busy. Late evening at the end of the day is a good time. Take all your paperwork and "evidence". Be polite and let them know that you are NOT asking them to unlock your hone, but simply trying to understand what to do next. Explain that AT&T will not talk to you since you are not a customer. They might, at their discretion, open a case for you. If they do NOT open a case, then go to the next step.
- Open an AppleCare case. It is worth it at $20. I was lucky and I didn't have to pay (but I had waited 5 months; your patience may not be that extensive). The service is effective and efficient.
This is the best answer and most valuable information & advice I have seen anywhere on this or AT&T's forum site.
I am in a situation parallel to the one you were in (I'm not the original AT&T customer, unlock was approved by AT&T but the unlock doesn't seem to have propogated to Apple's whitelist servers). The original owner is a friend of a friend, so it is possible for me to communicate with him but he claims (justly) that he has done what he can and that the unlock has been approved (fair enough...). So he assumes that I must not be doing something correctly, which is reasonable... And I'd rather not keep nagging him if at all possible.
This gives me two courses of action to pursue on my own, which will hopefully resolve the issue!
I very much appreciate you sharing your experience.
If the original owner is willing to just do one more thing for you, please have him enter the request to unlock one more time on AT&T's site. (Even though s/he has done this already, and even though the online status on the phone company's website says that the phone is unlocked, the original owner can still put in the request online again. We did exactly this.) I had the original owner do this (5 months after he made the first request, which was "approved") and at the same time I also pursued the tactics with Apple Store and Apple Support that I describe above. When the unlock finally happened 3 days later, I am not sure whether it was our Apple Support actions or simply that the second request made online by the original owner went through this time.
To make it as convenient for the original owner as possible, email him the link to AT&T or the phone company's "unlock request" page, plus all the information that the online form asks for (e.g., the IMEI number, etc.)
Good luck. Please post the update once your issue is resolved.
You are MOST helpful! Thank you!!!
I have taken your advice & asked him to submit another request with a link to the page & the IMEI of the device. I'm waiting for his response. Hopefully he will be willing & able to take care of it before too long.
If that does not materialize by the end of the week I will figure out where the closest Apple store is & follow your suggestion of paying the Apple Genius bar a visit during their off/slow hours to see if they would be willing to assist me by just looking into the matter. Then, as a last resort I will open an Apple Care case- which would certainly be worth the $20 if it becomes necessary. I will post the outcome and the way in which I was able to resolve the matter.
Yes @RajaRani, that was how I learned that the unlock was approved (since I'm not the original owner the email was not sent to me). I have checked there many times & saved screenshots as well as printed the page for reference/evidence. It still shows that the unlock was approved, yet when following the instructions & restoring the iPhone configuring it as new, I still do not get the "Congratulations, your device is unlocked" message in iTunes and when I insert another SIM card I get an error that the device is locked & I must use a SIM card from the carrier it is locked to or request the carrier to unlock the device. Most recently confirmed those 3 things (approval site, restore, different SIM) just a couple hours ago. The approval first posted 5 days ago. I think it's safe to assume that anything that was going to happen/change as a result of this unlock request has already changed and the process is complete. More action will be required in order for anymore changes to be made.
Thank you so much guys for your assistance, ideas & advice!!!
Thanks RajaRani, I tried that. They said I need to email them from the address associated with my account (the account associated with that case/request). But since I'm not the original owner or account holder I don't have access to that e-mail account which isn't mine... They will not discuss anything relating to a particular account with anyone but that account holder- which I understand and fully support!
It seems that the best & easiest solution- offered by "ns" here and by others in other threads- is to simply submit a new request. Many report that it is processed much more quickly than the first one and that the problem has been resolved with in a matter of minutes or hours in many cases. And from my experience dealing with AT&T support is not a fun process which tends to be slow and hasn't had a very high rate of providing solutions (when I was an AT&T customer- which is one of the main reasons I left them).
I've been having a hard time getting a hold of the original owner to get him to submit another request, but that seems like my only real option so I'm just being patient.