new number

Emma and I have new mobile phone numbers as of yesterday, and there’s a bit of a story behind this. We wanted to change our calling plan because we never use all our minutes, and also wanted to get new phones – I wanted a smaller phone and the screen on Emma’s wasn’t working. So time for a change. I hunted around a few plans, and the best seemed to be a shared plan offered on, who I’ve used before and have been very happy with. American readers will know that recently a law was passed stating that carriers had to allow people to keep their numbers if they change mobile phone carrier, to increase competition, but as we were planning to stay with AT&T Wireless, just use a different plan, we thought that this would be easy.

So the phones arrived earlier this week, but with a new number for each of us, so we called AT&T to get them to fix it for us. After about a half hour call and being bumped from rep to rep, it turned out that they would not do it. What we had to do was to return the new phones (a plus for AT&T is that they have no cancellation fee if you stop the new plan within 30 days) and then get phones from AT&T themselves, which I guess is legal but seemed a little odd to say the least.

I was a bit dumbfounded after that conversation, and Em and I spent some time wondering what we should do, but seeing as AT&T sold the same phone on their site, with a full instant rebate (easier than the mail-in rebate with letstalk) we thought we might as well go for it. I called AT&T and the assistant said that he’d talk me through the process on their website. It turned out that following the steps he described showed the Nokia 3100, but at $99.99 each, compared with the free offer I saw elsewhere. It further turned out that the free phone offer is only for new customers – they basically were charging us for continuing to be customers. I put this to the assistant who, to his credit, agreed that this was indeed the case. So I told him that there seemed little point staying with them, as I could probably get a free phone from another carrier, and keep our numbers. Once again he said that this was probably true, so I said that I was going to hang up but thanks for his help. He thanked me, and said his probably scripted line, “AT&T appreciates your business”. I responded with “Clearly you do” and that was that.

Unfortunately on shopping around for other plans, none seems as good as the new one we got through letstalk, so after all that rigmarole we’ve got our new phones and also new numbers. It’s a bit of a hassle letting everyone know that we have them, but at least it gives us a chance to tell this ridiculous story of customer “service”.

One Response to “new number”

  1. [...] You may remember the bizarre story some time ago when Emma and I got new mobile phones, but were unable to keep our existing numbers. It meant that we got 763 prefixes, which is for the northern suburbs of Minneapolis (612 is the prefix for Minneapolis itself). And for some reason it means that we get tons and tons of wrong numbers, to the extent that I just don’t answer if I see a 763 number I don’t recognize appear on the screen – almost all the wrong numbers come from that area code. Maybe it’s because these people don’t know to dial a number properly or something, because living in the suburbs has melted their brains. Occasionally I’ve had incorrectly dialed faxes coming to my machine, which means that I’ve had to send faxes back to the number asking them to stop faxing me – at least caller ID means that I can do this. [...]

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