Friday, July 18, 2008

Part 2 of the Number Portability Saga

As I reported several weeks ago, I underwent to port my number from one service provider to another.

This is what has happened so far. (Names of the companies concerned are hidden to protect the innocent... for now)

My contract with Provider A was set to expire on the 25th of June. This is a little ambiguous. Does that mean that from the 25th of June it is no longer in effect, or does it mean that after the 25th of June it is no longer in effect? None of the documentation I had provided any clarity on that question.

So, in the first week of June I called Customer Support at Provider A to find out how to go about porting my number to Provider B. Provider A told me that all I had to do was sign a form indicating my intention to port, and to fax the signed form back to them before signing my contract with Provider B.

This raises an interesting question: Provider A is a telecommunications company that claim to pride themselves on their Internet solutions. Why, then, would they insist on a fax, as opposed to a scanned email? I asked. A scanned email wasn't even an option. No explanation was given. This is not surprising, and this level of service is why I decided to leave Provider A to begin with. But I digress.

To be sure, I called Customer Service at Provider B and asked them the same question. They gave me a similar answer... that all I needed to do was inform Provider A of my intention to port, and it would magically happen. Also that I should wait until closer to the time to process the documentation.


So, on Friday the 20th of June, I got my forms ready. I had the port notice to Provider A printed, I signed it and had it faxed to their offices. I then went to Provider B and signed up for my new contract. Provider B told me that when the port went through, I would be notified to come in and fetch my new phone.

On Monday the 23rd, Provider A called me. Probably for the first time ever. They informed me that if Provider B pushed the number port before my contract with Provider A expired on the 25th, I would be liable for a R4000 penalty to ICASA.

I made it clear that I was not happy about not having been informed about this little detail beforehand, but that I would contact Provider B and ask them to delay the port, if possible. I contacted Provider B, and they told me that the process had already been set in motion, and could not be stopped. But that it usually took several days to process, so it shouldn't be a problem. I then sent Provider A an email to their Customer Service department informing them that I was not able to change the date of the port, that I was not happy about this lack of information, and that under no circumstances would I pay any penalty. I have yet to receive a response to that email.

On the morning of the 25th I awoke to find my old phone no longer working. This was good news, as it meant my old SIM card had been deactivated, and I was to go to Provider B to fetch my new one. So I did. And it is awesome. But that's a story for another post.

Since then I haven't heard a peep from either Provider A or B until last week. I received an automated text message informing me that my last month's phone bill was payable, and the amount of it... which was considerably less than a normal month, which told me all was well with the world. Until yesterday.

Yesterday I received an automated email from Provider A informing me that my electronic statement had been issued. Guess what I saw on it. R4000.

So I, once again, wrote an email to their Customer Services department informing them that under no circumstances would I pay it, and that they were to adjust the balance on my account.

So far no response. It will be two weeks before the automated debit order deducts the money from my account. If I haven't heard from them by Monday, I'll cancel the Debit Order. I'm going to assume that this has been a simple clerical error. I'll give them the benefit of that doubt and see whether or not they cooperate.

If they don't, you guys will be the first to know. Stay tuned!