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The struggles of number porting

There is one part of my business I truly hate. It's laborious, expensive and boring. No, it's not the accounts or staff appraisals. It is the number porting process.

The what?

You know when you change your mobile phone provider and you want to keep your old number? Well moving that number to the new provider is called porting. You get given a PAC code and the process is seamless (mostly) and done within 24 hours.

Porting also exists in the landline world. Except it's the complete polar opposite of the mobile experience. It's slow, costly and fraught with pitfalls. For example, the process of porting your old landline number to a new provider requires you to get as much information about your line from the old provider as possible. However, you'll soon find:

* Your old provider doesn't have a porting desk, or even has the faintest clue as to what porting even is.

* If you do find someone who can talk to you, they'll likely give you the wrong installation address (to port a number, you need the correct installation post code. It's kinda like a really insecure and pathetic password the industry uses to confirm it’s really you that wants to move the phone number and not some cyber hoodlum). Normally you'll be given the postcode written on your bill and you can be sure that's not the installation postcode.

* It costs £20 a pop. Wrong installation postcode? £20. Wrong contact name? £20. Port form written in biro instead of sacrificial goat blood? £20.

Basically, it's an archaic and broken process that was dragged into the new millennium after it was ordained that landlines can be used on VoIP phone systems. In a bid to encourage healthy competition. Lol.

However, it's quite clear this archaic process is used to the advantage of the losing provider. Sometimes (thankfully only sometimes), some lily-livered individuals attempting to port their number give up half way through and go back to the old provider they previously expressed a hatred for. A kind of sadomasochistic ritual that deep down they probably enjoy.

Luckily though, people built of sterner stuff firstly do their homework and get the details right, then if presented with rejected attempts go back and try again with renewed vigour and even more resentment towards the old provider. And perhaps even file a complaint with OFCOM and get a couple of hundred quid compensation (yes really) to boot.

Thankfully though the porting process does work fairly well if you do your homework first. It saves all kinds of headaches and reduces the porting time down from a couple of weeks down to a few days.

Everyone in the industry knows it's broken and we've been talking about changes for years but they never come. Thankfully more people are using VoIP from the get go, so the numbers are a lot easier to subsequently port anyway.

In the meantime though if you do decide to port your number, stay strong and focused and do your homework first and you'll be switching providers in no time.


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