If you’re a foreigner it’s damn near impossible to talk to a Chinese representative. (Seriously, I swear they’re not talking cohesively on purpose. Either that or call quality in China sucks.)

When you need to check up your fees or change your plans, you need something called a “service” password, or fúwù mìmǎ (服务密码). And if you don’t have a Chinese passport and citizenship and their ridiculous ID from their system, you will not get through the terrifying automated calling system they have, or the online form.

And that’s when a service lady from China Mobile sent me details on how to reset the “service” password, without going through the usual hoops set forth by the corporation. (You’re a star, lady.)

So without further ado, let’s dive right in.

Method 1

  1. Text 6044 to 10086 (China Mobile’s national hotline number.) The recovery process will begin.
  2. You will have to reply “是(shì)” to their gibberish. Do NOT reply with the quotation marks, OR the pinyin I wrote for you to aid with your typing. That will mess up the system. Just write: 是, and that’s it.
  3. A string of letters will be sent back along with more gibberish. Something along the lines of D9S1H5 or similar. Keep this.
  4. Now begins the stupidest part of the instructions. Ready? Hold onto that recovery code for 24 hours, but no more than 36 hours or else the process will stop and reset back to the beginning. I know, it’s stupid, and you’re probably wondering what the heck is happening back there, but it’s a stupid security measure they’ve put into place to stop unwarranted password resets.
  5. After 24 hours, send that recovery code back to 10086. (WTF)
  6. Your new service password will be sent back to you in reply.

Method 2

  1. Follow steps 1-4 from the first method. Remember to follow the 24 hour-36 hour rule or else this won’t work as well.
  2. Now, instead of texting back the recovery code, send 6045 OR “确认密码重置 (quèrèn mìmǎ chóng zhì)” to 10086. Do NOT reply with the quotation marks, OR the pinyin I wrote for you to aid with your typing. That will mess up the system. That Chinese gibberish just means, Confirm Password Reset.
  3. Your new service password will be sent back to you in reply.

Method 3

(by far the most tedious and buggy method)

  1. Call 10086.
  2. Press 4 for Password and Automated Response Machines. (密码服务与停复机 - mìmǎ fúwù yǔ tíng fù jī)
  3. Press 1 for Forgot Password. (忘记密码 - wàngjì mìmǎ)
  4. Press 2 for Undocumented Password Reset. Yes, I know, this sounds extremely sketchy but just do it. (无证件延时重置 - wú zhèngjiàn yán shí chóng zhì)
  5. The recovery code will be sent back to you.
  6. Either follow steps 4-6 from the first method, OR steps 2-3 from the second method.

Good luck, Chinese expats!