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If you bought this through an auction site like eBay you may have buyer protection depending on how the listing was worded. If you bought it from a private seller online then you may not have any recourse. Most likely the device has a balance on it unpaid and that person left T-Mobile and never paid their bill. However the original owner would have to pay the balance and request an unlock code or have it unlocked by T-Mobile even though it will work on the Metro Network.
Hey johnmckanon! I'm sorry to read about this predicament -- snn555 is right; for legal reasons we won't be able to disclose the reason for the blacklist or settle the matter with anyone other than the original owner of the device. I hope that you were able to contact them; but if not I'd definitely recommend taking him up on the suggestion of exploring your buyer's protection options. I'm sorry that it's not better news, but hope you've been able to make some headway here with his advice!