What to expect when you’re expecting… to change cell carriers.

I recently decided to go back to Verizon from using Straight Talk. When we had our son we cut back on our expenses a lot and are only just now sorting out how much of that is truly necessary. Anyway, we decided to go back to the smart phone world and to do so on a network we knew was reliable, Verizon.

People had warned me ahead of time that moving your number from a prepaid carrier can be difficult. We did as much research ahead of time as possible and moved forward confidently. My wife was certain she wanted an iPhone, and their prices dropped on Apple’s website first so we ordered it from there. You can choose all of the options for your new Verizon plan from there and everything so it all seemed very streamlined. The problem is, when we received the phone it could not activate. Something became stuck in the process of porting the number. I spent a large portion of a weekend on the phone with Verizon support. They were able to port the number over but it became stuck in their system, which they said could take 7-9 more days to resolve. We were exasperated at this point, so we just went into the Verizon store on Monday and said forget it, we don’t even care if we lose the old number. Their response to us? Can’t touch it. You ordered the phone through Apple so we can’t work with it.¬†We ended up buying two completely different phones and returning the first to Apple. We also both got new numbers instead of having Verizon port our old ones over.

Eventually we were able to run blissfully through fields with new iPhones and everything worked great, but it was a painful process to get there. Below are my tips on how to avoid this.

  1. Order your phone either through the actual Verizon store or off of their website. According to the guy I talked to they cannot work with any other devices if you bring them in, not even from their resalers in the same area.
  2. If you’re going to order the phone off of Apple.com or another site instead of the Verizon one, opt to get a new number. The guy I talked to said this is always how they do transfers. They get the phone up and running with a temporary number and then port over your old one.
  3. Instead of bringing your old number over to the new carrier at all, make it a flexible virtual number by transferring it to Google Voice. This is what we did with my number. I can now point it at any device, including my new cell phone. I can even tell the service to ring the house phone or my wife’s if I don’t answer. There are a wide range of features and there is only a $20 one-time fee for transferring a current number.
  4. No matter what option you choose for porting an old number over, DO NOT touch the old service until EVERYTHING is up and running. This causes bad things to happen. Just let it sit completely alone. Don’t even have your old phone on. The systems don’t play nicely together otherwise.

I hope you can avoid my pain and suffering. In the end, having known a few simple things would have probably made the process go flawlessly.

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