Phone Transfer

As mentioned previously, I'm giving up the cell phone that my employer has supplied and switching to a personal phone. I still had my old Nokia at home, so last week I switched the SIM card out of my BlackBerry and turned in the hardware. I received a notice from my employer that the phone number had been released so I could now transfer the number to my new personal account.

So today I went into the local AT&T store to switch the number. I wanted to put it on a Go Phone plan, as I hardly use my cell phone and a $25 card should last me 3 months. The reps at the store were friendly and helpful, and put me in touch with AT&T customer support. This is where the trouble set in. First, apparently you can't transfer a number from a business account directly to a non-contract, non-plan account (aka Go Phone prepaid). If I really wanted to keep the same number, I needed to first create an account with a plan (although I was assured this could be done without a contract). The business number would be transferred to the individual plan, and then the individual plan could be converted to a Go Phone. Fine, so one hour later, I'm setup with the minimum individual plan ($39.99 / month) with no contract and I'm all set to switch to the Go Phone. I was warned that I might be billed for the one day of service that I'm on the individual plan, but I figure that $1.33 plus tax is a small price to pay to keep the same cell phone number I've used for the past five years.

Here is where trouble starts again. Apparently the person who setup and transferred my number to the individual plan didn't realize that there was a clause that said you had to keep the individual plan for one period (a month) before it could be transferred to a Go Phone plan. This isn't what I was told (and $40 is way more than I'm willing to pay to keep my number). The in-store rep steps in at this point and starts calling his own set of numbers using his AT&T sales rep code in an attempt to get in touch with someone who can make the first CSR's statements a reality. Meanwhile, the store manager is jotting down all of my contact information and profusely apologizing for the delay and confusion (the phone was on speaker, so all of the store help heard the first CSR say that I could change to a Go Phone that day, and we made him repeat it explicitly).

Another hour later and the in-store rep is still on hold, this time for the fifth person who might be able to help. I've been in the store for over two hours now, and I still don't have what I walked in for. The store manager walked over to me at this point and said, "In all likelihood, you will probably be stuck with the one month of service at $39.99. If that's the case, at the end of the month, come back to the store and I'll switch you to a Go Phone plan and credit you with the cost of this month. In the meantime, go ahead and take care of whatever you need to do, and we'll call you when we get this settled."

This isn't what I had in mind. I have to say, the in-store rep and manager did a great job of trying to set things right for me, but the customer support reps on the phone were not helping them out at all. They first had to talk to business accounts, then transfer of service, then national individual accounts, then Go Phone accounts, and they were on hold with the next department when I left. I'm not happy with the result at all, but if the manager follows through with his promise of crediting me for the trouble, at least I'll have a positive opinion of the in-store staff. If I knew it was going to cost $40 to keep my number, I would have learned to live with a new number.


Jade Mason