Although my mobile phone has changed over the years I have retained the same number since I bought my first mobile phone back in 1999. It’s the number I give out to friends and colleagues. It’s the number I put on forms and web sites (the ones I trust). It’s the number I put on correspondence when I send my novels out to agents.
I’ve had it 14 years.
As far as I’m concerned it is my number.
My mobile phone tariff is Pay As You Go so as a consequence I have to buy my mobile phones outright – there is no contract with the service provider. So as far as I’m concerned the mobile phone is mine and I’m free to use the number as much or as little as I like.
Over the years I have used the mobile less and less. This abandonment has been exacerbated by the acquisition of a work mobile which, naturally, I now use to make most of my calls (as they tend to be work related). In fact, the only cost that has been incurred by my own mobile phone over the last few months has been incurred by the phone itself; it is a touchscreen and the “guard” switch frequently turns itself off to the point where the slightest accidental touch on the screen causes the phone to dial out. Thanks to Vodafone’s instant “£2 IOU credit” scheme I often found myself owing them money (despite my Pay As You Go tariff) for calls that I hadn’t actually made. I didn’t ask for the credit and didn’t want it. Personally I think it’s just another way for the phone company to screw money out of the slice of its customer base who are more pecuniary minded. So in the end, the last time I racked up a £2 “credit debt” I didn’t pay it off. Sod them.
That was possibly my mistake.
Because despite receiving a couple of phone calls earlier this week I suddenly turned my phone on one morning to find a “Sim card registration failure” message on the screen. A phone call to Vodafone revealed that as my mobile hadn’t been used to make any calls for the last 9 months they had decided the phone was no longer in use – this without checking – and they allocated the number (MY number) elsewhere. They would send me a new Sim card with a new number to reactivate the phone but my old number was now lost to me forever.
I have to say I am quite furious. I have my novel with a number of agents at the moment and my mobile number is all over the correspondence should they wish to ring me and make me an offer. The fact that they won’t is neither here nor there. It is sod’s law that this is the time an agent will bite and now won’t be able to get hold of me. Yes, they have my email address but you know… I’m thinking worst case scenario here: an agent who is e-averse.
How dare Vodafone remove my number just because I haven’t incurred any phone charges recently and do so without a by-your-leave or a thank-you. That phone is mine. I paid for it outright to make calls at my convenience not theirs. Overnight they have reduced it to a useless piece of plastic – which, if I had wanted such a thing, I would have bought a box of Mega Bloks (sorry – striking a blow for Lego).
I’m going to call Vodafone back (not from my mobile) and complain. I doubt it will do any good but my spleen needs to be vented. I’m now weighing up whether it’s worth the effort and expense to buy a new mobile tied into a different company just to spite Vodafone good and proper (like they actually care).
I suspect all phone companies are much the same but if any of you have any personal recommendations do please give me a call.
You have my number.