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News → 2011-4-03 Your number, your property

Did you know that your businesses phone numbers, or any of your phone numbers, are technically your property? Just like your computers, or fax machine, or photocopier paper; they’re yours to take with you to where ever you want, whenever you wish. This is not just some idealistic statement, but it is stated pretty plainly on the CRTC website at http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/info_sht/t1023.htm. So if you or anyone you know thinks that your phone numbers belong to a telecommunications company, and changing the phone number to another service is at the telephone company’s discretion, you may wish to read on…

Generally, many major Canadian telecommunication companies prefer to keep this information to themselves, and don’t go out of their way to publicize it. One old trick they like to use is a lot of bureaucratic red tape for both the competing telecom firm as well as the soon to be former client. This method is to overburden the potentially ex customer from going through with a number transfer because they are faced with what would seem an insurmountable amount of work. Should the soon to be ex customer continue with a telephone number transfer, large telecommunication companies generally will “step up” the next step of red tape delay tactics.

One example of this “stepping up the red tape” is that recently Rogers put its business customers on a different service network. For nearly all, that network was Bell. Thus to transfer the phone number, your new provider would have no luck going to Rogers, nor would they going to Bell, as this new arrangement has neither one of them solely as the service provider. Instead your new provider would need to go to Bell and inform them that Rogers is the reseller for your number in order to initiate a number transfer. This process has had the effect of over complicating the procedure, and caused many potential ex-customers to stay as customers regardless of actual satisfaction of service, but more out of sheer complacency.

So for Bell and Roger’s, they needlessly overcomplicate the number transfer protocol to make it so specific that you will invariably get something wrong and the process will be delayed for a whole month. That is an extra bill they get to send to those persons leaving their service. Rogers did not inform their business customers of this fact, nor do they communicate it with their competition, as it would invariably make it easier to take numbers away from them.

If you are transferring your phone number to a new provider, it is important to remember that the number actually belongs to you to transfer to other providers as long as your bills are current; you may though have to buy out of a service contract if one was signed. However, often a strongly worded letter to your telephone company’s Office of the President threatening to bring the matter to the attention of the CRTC is sufficient to make them more helpful with your number transferring issues should they arise. Getting upset and yelling at Customer Service Representatives (CSR) generally yields no results, as the CSR’s are usually in no position to help any ways. Also generally they seem to be guided to give false information, (as that is the only information they are fed) when trying to find out how to transfer a number. Probably the most important thing to know when dealing with a large telecommunication company is that the pen is truly mightier than the sword, and a carefully worded letter through the right channels will get you farther along in five minutes then spending over an hour on the phone with customer service…