Stuck in Number Portability Hell

I was foolish enough to make the mistake of trying to port my home phone number to a new cell phone on December 9. I was originally planning to wait until all the reported glitches in the porting process were ironed out, but Amazon’s great Treo 600 deal forced my hand early. I knew the process wouldn’t be smooth but I had no idea it was this difficult to transfer a damn phone number. Today marks day 21 of waiting for Sprint PCS to get my number working on their system.

I knew I was in trouble as soon as my phone arrived and I called Sprint to activate it. Here’s how the phone conversation with the rep went (more or less):

Going back and forth with me giving all the basic information the rep has been asking me for. After several minutes I realize that he’s never said anything about porting a number, so I interrupt…

Me: I don’t know if this is the point that I should be saying this, but I’d like to transfer my home phone number to this cell phone.

Sprint Rep: OK, and goes right back to reading from his script/filling in the form on his screen…

a few minutes later…

SR: OK sir, we’re all finished, your new phone number is

Me: (cutting him off before he can get past the area code) I just told you that I want to transfer my existing number over.

SR: Huh? Oh, you mean port your number?

Me: yeah (duh!!?!)

SR: Did you mention that earlier?

Me: I sure did. (Thinking… wtf? even if I didn’t mention it, shouldn’t he have asked me this given how big a deal it has been since porting began a couple of weeks ago)

Then he proceeds to cancel a bunch of stuff he did and tries to transfer me to the porting department. Of course my call got dropped during the transfer. So this is where the fun really begins. I call Sprint back to speak to a rep but I can’t get in their damn system. In their infinite wisdom, they have an automated phone answering system that doesn’t give you the option of speaking to a human. You either have to choose ‘activate a new phone’ or ‘current customer’. In the first case you have to enter the serial number (or some equivalent identifier) off the phone to be able to proceed. I choose this option but when I enter the number the system tells me it’s invalid. This is because it’s already been activated. OK, so I call back and choose ‘current customer’. Guess what? Now I have to enter my Sprint phone number… which I don’t know! Now I’m really pissed. After a couple of more tries with the automated phone system I was able to get to a human who was able to give me my temporary number.

So I finally get through to the porting department. This seems to go smoothly, except for the fact that they think my home phone number (the one being ported) belongs to Cingular. I inform her that it doesn’t, and that it never has. I tell her that the number is with Z-Tel. She informs me that the process may take 3 to 5 days, even though the FCC has mandated that it should take a matter of hours.

So 5 days go by and there’s still no change in my phone number. I call Sprint to see what’s going on. They inform me that the request didn’t go through. We go back and forth over the info and I tell them again that the number is not a Cingular number, and that their database must be incorrect. They ‘escalate’ me by transferring me to their ‘tier 2’ porting department. (I’ve never been on hold for less than an hour waiting for the tier 2 group, listening to the same damn song on their hold music!) I give the tier 2 guy all the history, and he assures me that all will be well in a couple of days.

I won’t bore you with the rest of the details, but it’s just more of the same. I call them after a day or two — wait on hold for at least an hour — they still think they should be dealing with Cingular — I tell them otherwise. Meanwhile I’m paying for an extra phone. By the time I decide to just give up and cancel Sprint, my 14 day grace period has passed. Now I’ll have to pay a $150 cancellation fee. (bastards!)

I started off trying to give Sprint the benefit of the doubt in that some of the porting problems could have been partially the fault of the other carrier(s). Now I’m not so sure. It certainly would have been wiser of me to wait a couple of more months to try this port. I should have stuck with my original plan. At least I’m not alone. There are a lot of horror stories like mine over at the forums. Yes, misery does love company.

I’ll post on this again when/if my number finally gets ported. Meanwhile, I’ll be listening to Sprint’s hold music.

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9 Responses to Stuck in Number Portability Hell

  1. James says:

    I think I will keep my current phone service. This sounds like a nightmare.

  2. Madison says:

    I didn’t know all of those glitches were happening. Thanks for the heads up.

  3. Ron Bell says:

    What a nightmare!

    But at least you got a cool new Treo 600. Hopefully, it will be more than an attractive paperweight someday soon.


  4. Michael says:

    The Treo is usable, just with a temporary phone number. Sprint therefore doesn’t see this as a big deal, but they fail top realize that they’re costing me money b/c I have to keep my other phone service active until the port is finished.

  5. RedHeadDread says:

    What a nightmare! They sure are keeping these glitches quiet in the media. I hope you get it all straightened out soon with out having to get too nasty.

    So when do we get your review of the Treo itself?

  6. Michael says:

    I’ve been trying different levels of outrage, to see if any particular attitude gets me results. But I’ve also been careful not to get myself dropped to the bottom of the queue. MAybe going ballistic will do the trick. Hmm…

    I hadn’t even thought about doing a Treo review. Maybe I’ll do one… I am in need more writing material. 🙂

  7. Abe says:

    I’ve always found with Sprint it helps not to get outraged at all, but instead to be really nice, small talk for a minute and then calmly and politely ask for what you want. Of course I’ve also given them thousands of dollars and they know that…

    Different story dealing with that automated system. I tend to just yell “I want to speak to a human not a fucking robot” at the robot chick until they get me an operator.

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