Hey, kids! Remember this from last October?

Can you unlock a cell phone you bought from TracFone and use it with another provider? Yes, says this page [the page has now been revised]. TracFone will be happy to unlock it for you if your phone meets certain criteria. Here are two of them:

The TracFone device was first introduced for sale on or after January 1, 2014.

The TracFone device has been in service for at least 12 months with paid, verifiable airtime.

So good luck with that unlocking thing.

The amusing thing, of course, was that, last October, there had not been twelve months since January 1, 2014, so it was literally impossible to fulfill these conditions.

One of those “laws” that people love to quote on the Internet is called Hanlon’s Razor: “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.” In that spirit, we were inclined to imagine that the policy created impossible conditions simply because someone had not thought it through very carefully.

But an alert observer has just pointed out to Dr. Boli (you know who you are, and thank you very much) that Tracfone just announced a new unlocking policy. And it begins with this preamble:

Handsets offered for sale by TracFone (with the exception of iPhones) are locked to TracFone service, and not technically capable of being unlocked. TracFone has recently entered into an agreement with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regarding handset unlocking. Next year TracFone will begin launching handsets which are capable of being unlocked.

If this is correct, then it seems that TracFone was not unlocking phones at all, because it was not possible to do so. We still do not attribute the former policy to malice, because of course that might be libelous; but the stupidity takes on brighter colors. Meanwhile, it is good to see that the FCC is doing some of the work we hired it to do.