ORLANDO, Fla. — An Apopka woman claims her cell number disappeared after she switched providers to save money.
She thought federal regulations allowed her to keep the same number, but when that didn’t happen she called Action 9 for results.
“They’re holding my phone number hostage,” Melody Slotsve said.
She never expected changing her cell provider would trigger an 8-week consumer fight that’s not over yet.
“It’s been maddening for me,” Slotsve said.
Slotsve and her husband signed a new provider contract with Cricket Wireless to save money. But within hours, she says she could not make calls or send texts.
Slotsve questioned Cricket Wireless.
“Cricket said my phone was stolen, then it was lost, then it was on the blacklist,” Slotsve said.
The couple discovered Cricket had not ported Slotsve’s cell number to the new account because of those issues, and her previous cell service never said her phone had been blacklisted.
Federal regulations protect cellphone numbers. The portability rule allows customers to keep their number anytime they change companies, and, in most cases, it is supposed to be completed in one day. But that can be tricky since cell companies don’t like to make switching services easy.
According to Slotsve, her porting complaint hit a brick wall. “We have had district managers, supervisors, and everybody on the phone promising us they would call us back.”
Slotsve said Cricket’s insurance company eventually offered to retrieve her original cell number for a fee.
“If I paid $257, I could get my phone number back,” Slotsve said.
Action 9 checked complaints with the FCC. Since 2015, an average of 400 consumers in Florida complained each year about not being able to keep their phone numbers.
Consumer investigator Todd Ulrich spoke with Better Business Bureau President Holly Salmons.
“In most cases I get to keep my number?” Ulrich asked.
“Yes, in most cases FCC protected your rights to keep and port that number,” Salmons replied.
Salmons says consumers must still make sure porting is included in the new contract and not cancel the existing contract too soon.
“Read the contract you’re currently under and make sure you follow to the letter of the contract,” Salmons said.
Ulrich contacted Cricket’s corporate office. A manager said Slotsve’s cellphone was a resold device, which complicated issues, but that the company is working to help her keep her original phone number.
“And I want my number back,” Slotsve said.
Consumer experts say to keep your number, do not terminate your existing contract until you’ve picked your new provider. And tell the new company you want to keep your number and include that in your contract.
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