Those Darned Cell Phones

Here’s a question for you:   Suppose I have a cell phone.  (I do!)  Suppose I decide for one reason or another that I no longer want my cell phone.  (I won’t)  I call AT&T and after I’ve punched a series of numbers to talk to someone who I probably cannot understand and who cannot understand my southern accent, I explain to them that I’m canceling my cell phone.  It’s over . . I no longer have a cell phone.  Now . . here’s the question.  How long before AT&T gives my number to someone else?  Just guess . . tell me what you think.

Here’s the story.  Vince decided a while back that he wanted a cell phone.  Don’t ask me why.  After a couple of months, he still hasn’t set up his voice mail; he still doesn’t know how to do more than answer the darned thing.  He gets lots of practice answering the phone because someone had his phone number before Vince got it.  Let’s just call this person Joe (not his real name).

Joe’s friends call day and night.  Joe’s friends don’t believe that Joe no longer has the number.  Joe might have some unsavory characters looking for him.  Joe told someone that he wants one of his puppies and it’s now time to pick up the puppy.  Dang it . . they want that darned puppy picked up NOW!  Some of these callers . . well sometimes they’re just not very nice.  And, some of these people have now resorted to sending text messages .. which cost us money!

Last week I called AT&T.  My first question was “How long do you hold these numbers before assigning them to someone else?”  You won’t believe their answer.   When someone cancels their number, we put that number in a bucket and then when we need a number, we pull one out. So, I could cancel my number and it could sit in that bucket for months or it could get pulled moments after I’ve canceled it?  Yes.

Her advice was that we pay an extra $10 or $20 per month for text messaging so we wouldn’t be paying for these texts for Joe.  Are you serious??

And, you want to know what the really bad part of this is?  We know Joe!  Joe doesn’t know that we have his cell phone number, nor does he know about all these calls we’re getting but I can tell you . . if I were Joe, I’d be pretty darned embarrassed!

One more thing . . you’d better seriously hope that you never get the phone number Chad has.  My phone rings about once a month.  Chad’s rings continuously!

I still think we should go back to the days when there were no cell phones and no TV’s.


  1. 1


    Ah… hilarious and sad at the same time! We went through that with hubby’s cell phone when he first got it. Such a pain too, as the guy had bill collectors after him. We’d had that number now for 9 years, and if we ever change cell companies for him he’ll be transferring the same number over to the new one!

    I’m experiencing that here at the house as well. The person who had this number prior to us also had bill collectors after them… and those are some rude people!

  2. 2

    Clare says

    We just transferred from t-mobile to AT&T in August. Since my husband and I dont do texting, we had them block any incoming texting which doesnt cost you a dime. This way we dont text and we dont receive the texts, until we get a little more savvy with it and/or we think we now need to know how to…i.e. as in now ONLINE BANKING.

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    Evelyn says

    I’ve had that happen to me before too- I started a new business, got the phone number, got all the stationery printed – and then the phone started to ring constantly – the school all the time about the guys kids missing school – I kept calling the school and telling them that this was no longer their number, but to no avail – and TONS of bill collectors – and then the people calling to offer credit cards. Good grief! If my phone rang 1/2 as much for the business – I would have been very happy.

  4. 5


    We still get occasional calls (even from the POLICE) at our house phone for the person who previously had this number…and it’s been nearly 5 years since WE got the number. As for the cell phone, I’m with you. I keep mine off 99% of the time and only use it for me to make calls…NOT for incoming calls….no voicemail set up or anything like that. With our previous company, I was getting charged for text messages sent by COMPANIES….kind of a telemarketing thing and I didn’t even know how to READ text messages. We contacted them to take the charges OFF the phone (was a matter of less than $1 at that time) and they refused, so we cancelled our service with them IMMEDIATELY. Sometimes I think technology has taken over our lives…but, of course, I’d be lost without my computer.

  5. 6


    You could do away with cell phones as far a I’m concerned. The cell phone law/driving law that went into effect here in, what, July is a joke and is totally ignored by everyone. I can’t imagine any call so important that I can’t wait a minute or two until I;ve pulled over to receive/make a call safely.

    What do all these people have to talk about? Some recently told me that it’s because more and more folks are cancelling their land line service at home and have just cell phones now. Fine. If there were no cell phones, you’d have to wait until you got home to retrieve your messages. So wait! You’re now at work or church or in the bathroom or the market or a restaurant. You’re not at home! Oooo, don’t get me started. Oh, wait, you did! LOL

  6. 7


    Oh, you don’t even want to try and cancel a phone with A T&T. Bill’s father got to where he couldn’t use his phone anymore and you wouldn’t believe what they make you go through. You can get a phone no. fairly quickly but you can’t cancel very quickly at all.

  7. 8


    Judy, can you just ask AT&T for a new number? Maybe if you explained/whined long enough they would do it at no charge?

    Just HANG ONTO that phone once you get it all straightened out. My husband’s phone was stolen from his car once by somebody who immediately used it to text all kinds of people with really nasty stuff. Of course they all started texting him back and by the time we got the number switched to a new phone we got inundated with frantic texts from people wanting to know who this was and why they were getting nasty texts. Took quite awhile to straighten THAT one out, I tell you.

  8. 9


    Ask for a new number or have text messages blocked. That shouldn’t cost you anything to have all text messages blocked. Of course this won’t work if Vince decides to learn how to text message.

  9. 10


    We have the same problem with our land line from AT&T. Apparently it’s a popular number for people with debt, as we have had multiple debt collection agencies call us looking for information on other people. Some are very rude and don’t believe that we don’t know the people, and one tried to convince me that my hubby was keeping deep, dark secrets from me by not telling me who this woman was. Right.

    DH has a pay-as-you-go cell, and that makes it easier for me to not call it inordinately. I refuse to have one. What’s the point? You always forget it, can’t get it, don’t have reception, have it off, when someone is calling in an emergency!

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    For the past two years we’ve had Internet and text messaging turned off on our cell phones. They really didn’t want to do that, but we insisted. You won’t regret doing it. Go to one of their stores and have it done – it’s easier to understand English there! LOL

  11. 13


    I didn’t realize with cell phone there are different rules. I worked for a phone company at one time. The rule is 1 year the number is put on hold incase the person wants it back. After 1 year the number can be put back in circulaion to be used.

    I had a friend get assigned soemones old number for a cell. His voicemail was set to say “no you have not reached Joe you’ve reached Kyle.”

    Good Luck!

  12. 14

    shannon says

    I’ve been without my phone for a couple of days and I miss it tremendously. I wonder how long before I feel okay without it? The reason I am without it is because something is wrong with the charge port on the phone. I’ve had to hook up my home phone again.

  13. 15


    Oh boy – I’m a dinosaur! Don’t want one, hated having to listen to others at the grocery store, in line. But the most distressing to me was … several times I was serving lunch to a FRIEND, and on numerous times, she put ME on hold (hey, it’s my house, my lunch, my dishes, etc!) while she talked and chatted to several of HER friends. Now, THAT was rude – I don’t care who it was, unless it was an emergency, she was at MY house and should have called them back! RUDE, RUDE, RUDE!

    And when I leave for work, at the same time young mothers are delivering kids to school, that hand is FREQUENTLY at the left side of their face, blocking peripheral vision, talking, and several times, THEY did not see ME who had the right of way, because of that danged phone!

    I DO have one now, for emergencies, which I NEVER turn on, and I’ve probably forgotten how to use it now! I also, do NOT want to be interrupted when I’m driving — just too dangerous. I have a message machine at home and if it’s important, they can leave a message. If there is an emergency, someone should call 911, not me.

    Whew! I feel better! Doesn’t help any one else but … LOL

  14. 16


    We have had the same problem with our house phone number. We get calls constantly for the couple who had the number 3 YEARS AGO! What I know about these people…they have a lawn service, I know their house and car insurance people, I know they have both bill collectors & a couple of lawyers looking for them, the wife borrow some equipment from the Red Cross (and they want it back) and some time in the last few weeks she had an car accident in Houston, Texas and some legal folks are looking for her. ARGH!

  15. 17

    Liz says


    I agree with previous posters concerning going to an ATT store and have them cancel the internet and text messaging. I was able to call ATT after I had internet charges on my phone bill and they did block it.

    I would also suggest that if you get someone saying to pay for the text messages, ask for a supervisor and demand that they block text and internet or change the number. I have also learned to ask for “level 2” assistance for internet… gets you to someone in the US and not overseas.

    Merry Christmas, y’all..

  16. 18


    Judy, If I were Vince, I would be calling the cell phone company and DEMANDING that they change me to a new number NOW, at no charge. It is ridiculous that they suggest you should add a texting package to your plan because of this, they should be able to BLOCK the texts if Vince doesn’t want to get them.
    I would be on the phone with the Department of Consumer Protection in my state right away if they refused to change my number in this situation.

  17. 19

    Andee in AZ says

    Judy…I am laughing out loud with this post! Sometimes I just don’t get these companies and the way they do things either!
    We actually have the same type problem with our house phone. We moved here six months ago and have been taking Scott’s calls ever since. Seriously EVERYONE does not have his new number…and if I did I would be calling him. The best part is about two weeks ago we started getting calls for Daria too! Today I had a message on my machine for her and the message said if this is not Daria or her number, hang up…otherwise you acknowledge you are Daria and this is a collection call. So people are going to have to start calling me Daria and I hope her debts are less than mine!