Monday, June 7, 2010
Help Me Howard: Phone Disconnected
Everybody uses a cell phone, but many people still also have a home phone, sometimes with a number they have had for years. But can the phone company take your number away from you? One woman was worried about that and called Help me Howard.
WSVN -- Remember back in the old days, back in the 90's, when everyone had a phone like this in their house?
Then the new century: everybody got a cell phone. But a lot of people hung onto their home phone.
Sherry McClain: "I've had one phone number for over 20 years."
Sherry McClain: "She said, 'Mom, your phone is off.' And I said, 'What? How could that be?'"
Sherry's home phone had been disconnected.
Sherry McClain: "It's very frustrating. How would you like to be in my shoes?"
Frustrating, Sherry says, because she considers herself one of the good customers.
Sherry McClain: "I'm never behind on any bill."
Sherry called the phone company. They never told her why her number was disconnected. They turned it back on, but...
Sherry McClain: "But Thursday, boom! The phone is disconnected again."
Turned off again. That's when Sherry contacted us. We got the phone company to reconnect her line. It worked, for a couple of days. Her phone was turned off for the third time in a month.
Sherry McClain: "Yes. It's disconnected, period."
Then, Sherry really got confused when she got a phone bill. It listed her address, but it's not her name, not her phone number, and it's for $125, way more than her normal phone bill.
Sherry McClain: "I want some answers. I want this situation to be resolved."
Howard, Sherry is irritated that her phone has been disconnected three times and is worried she may wind up losing her home phone number.
Howard Finkelstein, 7News Legal Expert: "First of all, the phone company doesn't own your phone number. No one does. It's considered a public resource, and if you pay your phone bills, the number cannot be taken away from you. If you don't pay your bill and your phone is disconnected, after 90 days, the number can be assigned to someone else."
When I talked to AT&T, they first thought the phone was turned off because a new customer gave the wrong address or a technician typed in the wrong address. After the third disconnection and the bill for someone else showed up at Sherry's house, they told me, they could not be sure of what is causing the problem until they finish their investigation.
Sherry McClain: "I will call my friends to let them know that my phone is back in service."
The phone company reconnected Sherry's phone again. It's working fine, and she is happy.
Sherry McClain: "Well, Help Me Howard has been a blessing to me. He has helped me to resolve the issues. I am very happy with his service, and I am very happy with AT&T, and I pray that this won't happen again."
Patrick Fraser: "And that bill Sherry got from the phone company for that other person was wiped out, making her even happier. By the way, if your phone is disconnected and you pay to reconnect it, you can usually get your old number back: if you do it within that 90-day period Howard talked about."
No tone, no connections, just a busy signal when you you try to dial up a solution? Ring us up. Our line is never disconnected, although we aren't wired right. The bad puns prove that.