Mobile phone number changing

Looks like Tantek’s getting a new mobile phone, and along with it a new number. Why? Why not just transfer your old number?

Well, you might find out what I did when you try and do that. I had, for some considerable time, a pay-as-you-go-along mobile. One number. I spent a lot of time teaching that number to people; almost as much time as I spent whining that the Sagem MW930 was lame and oh, by the way, could I have a new one, please, you know it makes sense. On a contract, ideally, so I didn’t run out of minutes at the end of the month, and so calls were cheaper. Mainly, though, so I had a phone that I could receive a call on in public without one of the two bad things happening: the first bad thing was dying of embarrassment when people looked over. I exaggerate slightly; it didn’t look that bad, I suppose; slightly curved and an iridescentish blue — how is it best to describe that metallic-colour-trapped-under-glass sort of look, I wonder? I imagine that the marketing people probably refer to it as “pearlescent” or something.

Where was I? Oh, yes, bad things that happened when I received a call. The second bad thing — and this is the one that made me want to get rid of the phone, ideally by smashing it down into a tiny pile of electronics dust and shattered components with a lump hammer — was that, when it received calls, it would sometimes turn off. Not immediately, though, and even if it claimed that the battery was full. Unless you ran the battery right down to the minimum by just not charging it at all for a few days (assuming that you didn’t get a phone call), it would never turn off randomly. If a call was accepted properly, it wouldn’t turn off randomly. But, one time in three, when a call came in, it would ring once — which is just enough time to sit bolt upright and start fumbling in your jacket pocket, either annoying the person sitting next to you or spilling your cup of tea in your lap — and then go dead. Naturally, since it had turned off, you had no idea who called. Find the phone in said jacket pocket, turn it back on, and the battery level indicator would merrily flash its three insolent bars at you. Smash, smash, smashsmashsmash. Hammer.

So, I got a new phone. An Ericsson T68, which seems to be rather nice, although it does sometimes take a while to recognise that you’ve pressed a button. (Remember when computers used to take ages, when they were even slightly busy, to respond to user input, and so you’d do the same thing a few times, only to find that all your keypresses took effect when the machine caught up and turned it into a blistering frenzy of wrong and potentially data-damaging activity? Just like that.) That aside, however, I quite like it. I wanted to like it when people rang, too, and I didn’t want to spend lots of time finding the email addresses and phone numbers of everyone I’ve ever met to tell them about a number change, not to mention the legions (well, er, small number) of people who had my number in some sort of professional capacity. So, I hassled my old mobile company (who ran the pay-as-you-go phone) to let me transfer the number to my new (different company, contract rather than pay-as-you-go) phone. And it all worked. I had to get something called a PAC code (which might be like PIN number, I don’t know), and I had to do the usual thing of running interference between the two firms (why is it that you can’t point one big firm at another and say: sort it out and tell me what happens? If you ever try that, and I have, then nothing happens. Sure would be nice to have work done without having to repeatedly kick people’s arses about it), but my number was transferred. About the same time, we moved house. Since the move was in the same town, I transferred the phone number from the old house to the new one, for all the same reasons as above.

And, you know what? (I’m sure you can guess.) No-one rang. No-one. Tumbleweeds blowing across the face of both mobile and landline receivers. And everyone I chased about it, everyone, said: well, you moved, and we didn’t know your new number! The populace has become so inured, so expectant of poor service from conglomerates and BigCos that, even when they pull out the stops, make a transition easy, and generally make my life and my contacts’ lives more pleasant, everyone expects to have to go through pain. All the way through the number transferral processes I was metaphorically gritting my teeth in anticipation of the denial or the refusal or the vast administrative hoop to jump through, and it never came. The lady at my original phone company seemed shocked that I was so surprised at how easy the process purported (and actually!) was. Your firm needs better PR, dear; they should be publicising this to the high heavens.

Oh, then when the landline company put cable into the new house we bought, on the day we moved in, their engineer drilled through my ring main and we had to eat dinner, fish and chips still in the paper, in darkness and surrounded by boxes while trying to block out the inward whistling and arguments between the hapless cable guy and his now-at-the-scene-of-the-crime boss. But we’ll ignore that. Besides, it makes a good end to a story. I must remember that.

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