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Cannot set up WhatsApp on O2 PAYG phone

ann13
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Some months ago I set up a new phone (as a secondary or spare) with a new O2 SIM and a new number on a Classic PAYG account.  The phone works fine.  I then installed the WhatsApp app, and registered it to the new O2 number. Fine. It activated. I sent a few WhatsApp messages to selected contacts (about half a dozen) notifying them of this new number. Almost all replied - on that new WhatsApp - to acknowledge. BUT - the next day on that new phone’s WhatsApp, I got a popup saying, “This account is not allowed to use WhatsApp”, with a note saying ‘your chats are still saved’, and a button to “request a review”.

Thinking this was simply a technical glitch, I uninstalled and reinstalled the app. Didn’t help: same popup message. So I sent a review-request to WhatsApp. A couple of days later I got a reply (into my email Inbox) from WhatsApp ''support" which looked very much like an auto-message, with no sender’s name, saying the account had been banned for breaching the Terms of Service. I was baffled.

So I sent a follow-up asking what exactly I had done wrong. I got a further email reply, again from “support” saying, “… We received a large number of complaints about your account ….and to protect our users’ privacy we won’t disclose the nature of the complaints”, and adds that the account/number will remain banned. The message ends, “…responses to this email thread won’t be read”. Which again suggests that this was a stock auto-reply.

The message didn’t seem credible. I had only used the new WhatsApp account for a few hours, sent just half a dozen messages with no links or attachments, and had had perfectly normal replies. So I sent a query via the WhatsApp website asking for clarification - how many complaints and when? I have had no response.

So I’ve been trying to figure out the cause of the problem. One suggestion was that the O2 number now on my new SIM and phone might in the past have been used previously by a spammer/scammer and been blacklisted. But the SIM and its number has been sitting unused for some time before I installed it in a new handset. And anyway the WhatsApp website help pages say “If you’re using a new phone number, it’s possible that the previous owner of your new phone number violated our Terms of Service and this caused the account to be banned. You won’t be penalized for violations by a previous owner of your phone number.” So this implies that WhatsApp are able to establish whether or when any past violations occurred; and they say explicitly that they will not penalise a new user for the actions of a previous owner of the number.

On another forum it has been suggested that the ban is on the account, not the number. This seems illogical as the account depends on, and cannot exist without, a number being registered to it.

I do have a WhatsApp account on my "main" phone - which of course has a different number and is on another network (giffgaff). But I cannot see how or why that would prevent me from setting up WhatsApp on my "new" or spare phone on the O2 network.

The fact that I cannot get a straight answer or any explanation from WhatsApp is almost Kafka-esque. Their first response was that the rules had been breached, but without saying how. The second response referred to a number of complaints, without any substantiating detail as to the number or timing of the complaints. And now - silence. I cannot see any way to seek further clarification or reinstatement of the “new” WhatsApp account.

What can I do?

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MI5
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@ann13 

You'll need a new number as WhatsApp clearly have an issue with the number you are using.

Guide: How to change your mobile number 

I have no affiliation whatsoever with O2 or any subsidiary companies. Comments posted are entirely of my own opinion. This is not Customer Service so we are unable to help with account specific issues.

Currently using:
Pixel 7a (O2 & Lyca), One Plus 6 (Sfr), iPhone 12 Pro Max (Vodafone)
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ann13
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Thanks MI5.... I wasn't aware that I could change my O2 number [once] without charge, so that is useful advice and an option I will pursue.

But it is a workaround which doesn't address the original problem.  So I confess to being still somewhat frustrated.  As you say, "... WhatsApp clearly have an issue with the [existing] number...".  Really?  Why?  That may be so.  But it is not at all clear.  It doesn't seem credible, and they have given no plausible explanation.  Why won't they reply, explain, and provide evidence?

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MI5
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No idea why @ann13 

Only WhatsApp can answer that, whether they choose to or not is a different matter.

I have no affiliation whatsoever with O2 or any subsidiary companies. Comments posted are entirely of my own opinion. This is not Customer Service so we are unable to help with account specific issues.

Currently using:
Pixel 7a (O2 & Lyca), One Plus 6 (Sfr), iPhone 12 Pro Max (Vodafone)
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madasaf1sh
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@ann13 

 

You would need to ask WhatsApp, and they dont really do support... its the Meta Verse way, if it was a business account where you spend a lot with them they would help you a lot more.. 


And they don't need to provide anything I am sorry to say, as its a business decision by them on their platform, and they can choose who uses it..

 

Best thing to do is follow the advice from @MI5 and get the number changed, but there is no guarantee that whatsapp wont block that number as well.

- Xperia 1V - o2 and Spusu
- Pixel 8 Pro - o2 and Vodafone UK
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ann13
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@madasaf1sh... No doubt you are right to say that WhatsApp is not obliged to explain or even respond to support messages (and it's pretty obvious that they are not inclined to do so!).  But it is a pretty odd way for a product-provider or service-provider to behave. 

 

Yes, they are a business;  and as a business, you would imagine they would want to attract, and then keep, customers. That's how businesses grow, isn't it?  Do we conclude that WhatsApp simply isn't bothered?  Or that they only look after those from whom they can extract the most money?  If that is the case, it is both arrogant and cynical.

It strengthens the argument for effective competition:  if WhatsApp offers lousy customer service, a rival who does better ought to be able to attract more - and more loyal - clients.  At the moment it looks very much as if WhatsApp is exploiting what looks like quasi-monopolistic power.  But that takes us into a whole wider debate.  I think I'll just settle (a bit reluctantly!) for the workaround of a new O2 number....

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Bambino
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@ann13 As WhatsApp is free to use unless you're a business customer I'm not sure what monies you think they're extracting? There's obviously an issue with the number you were using, so just set up a new number and move on.

I DO NOT WORK FOR O2



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Enlli
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WhatsApp is free for the likes of us.

My wife uses it to speak once a week with her sister in Canada, usually about an hour in duration. It's free and saved her a fortune in international call rates.

The family use it for messages and the odd photo rather than sending text messages. ...again free

Quite frankly I don't expect much in the way of customer service considering what we are paying...absolutely nothing

You mentioned Clasic PAYG SIM, count yourself fortunate having that seeing they are legacy and no longer available 

This is not O2 and we are all customers here similar to yourself and cannot answer account type queries.
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MI5
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How WhatsApp Makes Money (Despite Being Free to Use) (finty.com)

I have no affiliation whatsoever with O2 or any subsidiary companies. Comments posted are entirely of my own opinion. This is not Customer Service so we are unable to help with account specific issues.

Currently using:
Pixel 7a (O2 & Lyca), One Plus 6 (Sfr), iPhone 12 Pro Max (Vodafone)
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madasaf1sh
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@ann13 


WhatsApp could close tomorrow, start charging and there is nothing anyone can do about it..

 

There is competition in the likes of Telegram or Signal, or install your own servers and install an OpenSource version and use that... so use them instead, and you will get the same amount of support from them...

 

You have a choice use it or dont simples, no one forces you to use WhatsApp, and at the end of the day its an add on of Meta ... and there are alternatives to all there services... and you can always install your own service... 

- Xperia 1V - o2 and Spusu
- Pixel 8 Pro - o2 and Vodafone UK
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