Running out of cell phone numbers September 27, 2008Posted by Matsu in Apple, Business, Humor, Information Technology, Technology, Web.
Tags: AT&T, cell phone, iPhone
Seeing this article about the upcoming IP number shortage reminded me of a recent experience I had with cell phones and cell phone numbers.
A couple of weeks ago I (with the help of my wonderful assistant) ordered about eight iPhones for a department where I work. Two of the phones were just upgrades to existing plans, but the other six were new service, so we were expanding the number of corporate cell phones on our account. That would seem to be a normal not-so-exciting routine process. Well, you’d be surprised at what a chore it was to get the vendor (AT&T) to ship the new phones.
Right away, after ordering the new phones through AT&T’s corporate customer website, we received e-mail confirmation of the phone order. Then, in about 24 hours we received several e-mail notices as the first of the eight phones were shipped. About two days after the order, all but three iPhones were on their way to me. But, three days later, we still had not received notice that the last three phones were shipped. When we called AT&T they told us those last three iPhone orders were “stuck” in the website. WHAT does that mean? They said to just wait and see if they will get “unstuck” on their own. I had a very tight deadline to roll out these phones and didn’t have time to wait for sticky websites. So, after much pressure on our AT&T account rep. and after many calls to the AT&T corporate support call center, they finally got the idea that we couldn’t wait any longer. After all, the rest of the cell phones part of the same order had already been received so it wasn’t a problem with the way we ordered the phones.
Finally, one of the people we spoke to shed some light on the problem — AT&T has run out of phone numbers, so the new iPhones that were added to our account had no phone number and couldn’t ship until AT&T could go wherever they go to ask for additional phone numbers for this part of the country. Isn’t that the wackiest thing you ever heard? I was really surprised that they had not seen this problem coming as they use up and assigned phone numbers to new phones every day. Surely, they have systems in place to monitor things like the amount of spare (unassigned) phone numbers left in their pool of numbers. It should not have caught them off guard the way it did.
So, the next time you are told by AT&T that your cell phone order is “stuck” in the website, know that they really mean they are stuck without any phone numbers and are scrambling to get more telephone numbers to assign their new cell phone customers.
The following YouTube video has nothing to do with this post, other than the fact that I just purchased eight iPhone 3G phones from AT&T. The “will it blend” series cracks me up and I thought I’d share the video where they guy puts a new iPhone 3G into the blender to see what happens.