Houston we have a problem! I can’t get an iPhone now. This is related to some constraints that I will further elaborate. Dirk just sent me a link to this post by Jens Matheuszik from Pottblog who has the same problem (post in German) and I was contacted by one founder of a big startup that has since left that has the same problem again. So, where are we.
The iPhone is out, but we can’t get it … because we want to keep our old mobile phone number. Now there is something called “Bundesnetzagentur” here in Germany that sets some basic rules that the carriers (all of them) and gase providers and the like have to abide to. It’s done to foster competition. Some years ago one thing was done to allow you to more easily switch your mobile phone providers: You could take your number with you. As a background for the non-germans here, in Germany previously every carrier had their own number (e.g. 0171 xxxxxxx) for T-Mobile and that has now changed. There are some basic rules for how this works.
Let’s presume you are moving from Base (my current carrier) to T-Mobile. You can cancel you contract at Base at any time. As soon as there are 4 months (123 days to be exact) left in your current contract you can go to your new carrier and get a new contract with a request for number portability. You can do that later, but at the latest 4 weeks after your old contract ran out. Those are the rules by the Regulierungsbehörde. But remember, those are the minimum rules, how Jens above so wonderfully found out.
Back to my case. I cancelled my contract and I can theoretically get a new contract this Friday, when there are 123 days left on my old contract, requesting my number to be ported. The problem that now appeared is that T-Mobile says: Very good sir, please sign here, and as your contract ends on the 17th of October, we will be sending you your iPhone a few days before that with your new SIM card and you will have your new contract on the 18th of October, thank you for signing up.”
WHAT?!?!? Yes, you read correctly, I would get the phone only at the end of my contract. Obviously I couldn’t let it rest at that, like Jens. Here are some things that do not work:
- I cannot make Base cancel my contract sooner, even though I would offer to pay all the remaining fee.
- I cannot make Base to give free the number and give me a temporary one.
- I have to admit that I can understand Base’s reasoning.
- I cannot get the iPhone now from T-Mobile even though the contract would start in October. It is not important here that I would pay them the sign-up fee and so on now.
- I cannot get the iPhone now and let the contract start now and get a temporary number from T-Mobile up until the old number is transferred (making them instant money)
- I also cannot get the iPhone and use another contract I have at T-Mobile that is still running for a few weeks (end of September, never mind why that is, not important as I do not want to keep that number) making them instantly more money.
- It is not possible to extend my old T-Mobile contract with an old number and move the new number over when the old contract at Base expires.
I am out of options. I sent them a mail to ask for a solution but have not received an answer yet. That mails is 3 days old now. But Jens has some interesting learnings that I can also confirm. Other carriers will give you a temporary number if you want to start a contract with them now and port the number over later. T-Mobile says that they can’t because the Regulierungsbehörde says so, but that is not true. They only say that the porting of the number cannot be requested sooner than 4 months before contract end and 1 month after contract end. Theoretically I should be able to go to T-Mobile at any date, say I want a new contract, get that, and port my old number over later. It’s not that hard in theory, unless of course all their billing system rely on not a customer number but on the mobile phone number, which again would be weird because I have a customer number in my online interface for the old contract. So again that can’t be the case. So they are not forbidden to give out temporary numbers. They are not forbidden to port over numbers to existing contracts. They are not forbidden to give me my phone now even though the contract starts later I would presume (and don’t tell me that I can cancel everything until the contract start, I would have to give back the phone then without having used that or I can’t or you have bad lawyers writing your contracts and I doubt that ). In any case, with T-Mobile being the biggest carrier in germany, or second biggest after Vodafone, no clue, I would presume they can handle giving me a temporary number, or letting me use my existing one if they don’t have one free anymore! This can’t be that hard.
In any case, this saga continues and I am looking forward to seeing if we find a resolution. Please leave a comment if you have similar problems, here or at Jens post. Thanks.
Update: I got an update from an email I sent. There is nothing they can do if I want to keep my number. The phone will be sent and the contract will start when my old contract expires. So I presume we need to go to PR and or Headquarters with this one