Mary Ann and I have very similar mobile (cell) phone numbers – the first eight digits are the same; just the last three are different. This occasionally confuses us and, it seems, other people as well.
The problem started when we got back from the Philippines. Both of us had taken our phones to the Philippines – Mary Ann has a Blackberry, I have an HTC Wildfire – and while we were there substituted our T-Mobile contract SIM cards for pay as you go cards on a local network. So far so good, except somehow Mary Ann managed to lose her phone at the airport. Luckily for her (1) the phone is insured; (2) her T-Mobile SIM with all her contact numbers was in her purse.
When we arrived back in the UK, Mary Ann gave me my T-Mobile SIM card (or rather put it on my desk next to the laptop on which I was working). Inevitably, I managed to lose it. I’ve looked everywhere – on the floor, under the printer, behind the stacks of paper on my desk. Nowhere to be seen.
There we were, Mary Ann with a SIM card but no phone and me with a phone but no SIM card. So we trundled down to Camden Town and Carphone Warehouse, whence we had purchased our phones. Is it possible to get a replacement SIM card, I enquired. A pleasant young lady behind the till told me that I would have to get one from T-Mobile.
Fortunately the T-Mobile shop is a few yards along Camden High Street. The shop assistant found the details of our registration on the computer, relieved me of ten pounds (being the charge for a replacement SIM) and gave me a new card. I have to say, that there was a bit of confusion then, because Mary Ann quoted a phone number off the top of her head which brought up her phone record, not mine. (“Oh yes, that’s my number. In that case, Paul’s number is…”)
On leaving the shop I put the new SIM card in my phone. It didn’t seem to be working very well – no wifi connection – but I did get a couple of text messages from T-Mobile, including one informing that my next phone bill was going to be some huge amount (I am not allowed to say exactly how much.) How could this be, when my phone had been off the network for the past seven weeks?
That was yesterday. Today when we were out of the house I noticed I was still not able to access the internet on the phone and I was pondering this mysterious phone bill. I decided to sign up to My T-Mobile in order to view my phone bill online. Very strange – according to the online statement I was just being charged my regular monthly fee. And my phone still wasn’t working properly. Mary Ann tried calling it from our landline – no response. “Try calling the landline from your phone” she suggested. The house phone rang. Even stranger. So we checked the number of the incoming call by using the 1471 service.
“That’s my number” said Mary Ann.
Somehow the replacement SIM had been issued in Mary Ann’s number and not mine. Now she had two SIM cards and no phone and I didn’t have any SIM card. The penny dropped: “then that must be your phone bill, not mine.” Quickly registering Mary Ann’s phone number on My T-Mobile revealed that this was indeed the case. For some reason, rather than being collected automatically from our bank account, the monthly charges had been accumulating while we were away, only we didn’t know this, of course.
Mystery solved, all that was needed was a phone call to T-Mobile to ask that the SIM be re-registered to my original number. Cue a frustrating phone call where I had to navigate through a number of menus (if you want to pay a bill, press 1…) only to be told that the helpline was now closed for the day. So that’s a job for tomorrow.
Confused? Join the club.