Andy McKay

Mar 07, 2012

Porting numbers in Canada


A while back I posted about how I was looking for an alternative to Rogers. Pretty much anyone who didn't want me to sign a contract for a phone will do. As it turned out I switched to Wind.

Sadly as it turned out Wind doesn't work with 5 blocks of my house. Even though they say they do on the map. It was really hard to get through to Wind customer service, but after a few days of frustration I switched to Koodo (really Telus) and all was good. Wind cancelled out my bill, no problem.

Until I got a bill from Rogers. So here goes:

December 20th, my 3 year contract ends, it's now on 30 day basis. January 20th. I phone up and give Rogers 30 days notice. That's in their contract and something I had discussed with them on a previous date, January 5th. My last bill will be February 20th.

February 19th is a Sunday, the Monday (February 20th) is a really busy day at work for me and I go downtown, not near my local Wind shop, I knew I wouldn't have time to get there. Knowing this I pop into Wind and transfer over to Wind. Get a new SIM and "port" my number over.

You'd think this is fine, for one day (the 20th) I will be paying two wireless providers, Rogers and Wind in order to keep my phone number. This seems reasonable to me, not perfect but I can cope. Rogers won't mind the fact that I'm paying them one day for a service I can't possibly use can they?

Rogers just sent me a bill for February 21st to March 30th. Why? Because I ported the number on February 19th. Just under 24 hours from the end of the 30 day cancellation period. What has the porting the number got to do with it?

Porting your number cancels your cancellation.

Rogers representative

Apparently that's right, porting my number nullifies my own cancellation. Meaning that I had to pay another 30 days for the cancellation period. If I'd waited for my 30 day cancellation to expire and then ported that would be ok, except I would be without phone service and lose my number.

These are some choice snippets from a (admittedly heated conversation on my part) phone call with them:

Me: So it's not possible to port my number away from Rogers and keep my number without paying the 30 day cancellation fee?
Rogers: Correct
Rogers: It was an error on your part porting the phone number one day early.
Rogers: There is no point calling a supervisor they will not help you out.
Rogers: There is no point calling anyone else they will not help you out.
My chat with Rogers.

By this point I was fuming. After 3 years and 3 months of contract with Rogers for me and my wife and playing by their rules and giving 30 days of cancellation, I ported my number 24 hours early. Of course no one tells you this when you port a number, they just happily do it.

As it turns out I'm not alone, in fact the body that "regulates" (I use that term loosely it gets confusing) the wireless industry said so in their 2009 / 2010 report:

...former CRTC Chairman Charles Dalfen stated that consumers should be given the widest possible choice of service providers and should be able to switch telephone companies without unwarranted cost or inconvenience .
In practice, however, consumers are generally forced to incur both needless cost and inconvenience in order to port a number.
CCTS annual report

...snip 4 paragraphs explaining how complicated this is...

In our view, this practice fails to achieve the objective of allowing customers to switch telephone companies without unwarranted cost or inconvenience . In fact, it accomplishes the oppositecustomers are put to additional inconvenience and extra cost . The current process is unfair to customers . There is no reason for a customer to have to make more than one call, or to pay two providers for the same months service .
CCTS annual report

I've lodged a complaint with CCTS and will fight this as much as I can.

There's no chance I'm going to pay this, it's unfair and I think it's the first time I've said to someone on the phone:

I'll see you in court.
Me to Rogers.

Update Monday March 12th: Rogers have credited me back the last bill and agree with my complaint. They say "technically" they are correct. This is in response to a complaint I filed with the CCTS, which is clearly the way to go. Rogers says "this happens a lot and we are looking at changing the process". Although according to the CCTS, this has been happening for years.