What’s the Official Policy of ATT (Cingular) On Unlocking Cell Phones?

Most of you are probably aware that cell phone companies here in the US lock your GSM (verizon and sprint folks this won’t apply to you) cell phone down so that ONLY that providers SIM (ATT/Cingular for example) can be used.  Thus, you cannot go buy a "pre-loaded" 100 minute SIM card from "Joe’s Wireless".  Nor can you use SIMS purchased while traveling internationally.  However, ATT/Cingular will gladly turn on international calling for you at $.99+  per minute (inbound and outbound).  Europe and other countries are more liberal in their cell phone minute purchasing whereby you can hit any drug store and buy a pre-paid SIM with XXX minutes and a local phone number.  Inbound calls are free.  Outbound can be made at a greatly discounted rate vs. ATT’s.

I’m trying to ascertain whether or not ATT has a policy of unlocking a phone if consumer asks to have it done. There are plenty of 3rd party people that sell unlock codes, etc…but I’m wondering, has anyone gotten an ATT/Cingular employee or local store to unlock their phone for them?  If yes, which store?  If not, what is the reason given. 

I’m going to buy an unlock code on line if I cannot get quick unlock resolution. 

(I’m traveling to Panama City, Panama soon and would like to keep in touch at a reasonable rate).

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