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CNN LIVE SATURDAY
Should You Keep Phone Number When Switching Wireless Carriers?
Aired December 13, 2003 - 12:42 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDERICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: How about a new phone for the holidays? Recently federal changes allow you to take your old phone number with you. But is it worth the hassle? Let's ask Joni Blecher from CNET.com, she joins us from San Francisco.
Good to see you, Joni.
JONI BLECHER, CNET.COM: Good to see you.
WHITFIELD: All right, so how popular has it been? Telephone number portability?
BLECHER: It's actually been pretty popular but not as popular as the industry expected. It's taking some time but most people are -- it's not as horrible as a lot of reports have made it out to be.
WHITFIELD: What seems to be the delay? What's going on? Are people reluctant, are they a little nervous? Are they're hearing the nightmares of how in some cases it takes days instead of hours?
BLECHER: I think, actually, what's happening is people are realizing their contracts aren't expired. It's a lot more expensive if your contract isn't expired yet to make the switch.
WHITFIELD: So take me through the steps. If you want to try and keep your number but you want to go portable, what do you need to do?
BLECHER: What you need to do is you need to take your existing bill with you to the new carrier that you want to change to. What you do is basically go into the store, you tell the new carrier this is what I would like to do. Here's my existing bill, tell me how long it's going to take. Tell me what is going to happen, if it does not happen in the time frame that you said.
It should take -- if it's the cell phone to cell phone change, it should take anywhere from 2 1/2 hours to two days at the most. If it's going to be longer than that and that's what they tell you, you need to find out how they're going to make that up to you.
WHITFIELD: Doesn't it often happen perhaps they tell them two hours or two days, but that it happens to be a little bit longer, so kind of once you got the process going, you can't backtrack, can you?
BLECHER: You haven't really shut off your other phone yet. It's not like you're going to be out of a phone. You can't really -- there's always the clause, you can backtrack if you want to. It's gotten so much smoother everyday, everyday people are making changes, it's getting easier and easier to make the change.
So, it's not -- we're not hearing as many stories as we heard that very first week.
WHITFIELD: You talk about contracts, that being one of the glitches, in some case people are healed to one of the contracts. If you're moving forward and not in the middle of a contract, how do you approach contracts that are being offered to you as a new customer?
BLECHER: You would approach it as you would any new cell phone. Basically the things to look for are how long is that contract going to be? Most carriers are trying to get people to sign up for two years now. There are situations where you can maybe pay a higher fee and get only a year.
The other thing to think about is your minutes, how many minutes will you use? What kind of plan is right for you?
And the most important thing to think about is, what is the clause date that you can still get out of the contract without having to pay a fee? It's usually anywhere -- it's usually approximately about 15 days. That's the first question to ask.
WHITFIELD: It sounds like a lot of folks are just going to wait until all the glitches get smoothed out. And they're going to wait to hear some more positive stories from, you know, more people who are actually doing it, before they jump on board?
WHITFIELD: All right, Joni Blecher with CNET.com. Thanks very much.
BLECHER: Thank you.
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