Who really owns your cell phone number?
January 29, 2008 9:40 AM Subscribe
My former employer won't release my personal cell phone number.
posted by ad_hominem to Work & Money (18 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Last week, I was laid off as part of a restructuring at my company. My email access was turned off immediately (no surprise), and on Monday, my cell phone access was turned off as well (also no surprise, since they were paying the bill). The problem is that my former employer is refusing to release my cell phone number so I can get it reassigned to a personal account.
I've had my cell phone number since 2000. In 2002, I added it to the corporate plan at Company A. When I changed jobs in 2006, I moved my number from Company A to Company B without trouble. In 2007, Company B was acquired by Company C, and our phone accounts were consolidated under one provider. At no time was it ever suggested that I keep my personal number on a separate, personal account.
Of course, I use this number for everything. It's listed on my credit cards, bank accounts and tax returns. It's what far-flung friends use to contact me after months or years. As a renter with ro ommates, I can't be certain of keeping my home phone number, so this the only number I give out, and it's a very memorable combination of digits. So I don't, if at all possible, want to give it up.
In my job, I was not involved in the ongoing support of business customers. I rarely--if ever--received direct calls from customers or prospects directly on my cell phone, since most of our contact was in person, over email or via conference numbers. My phone number was published only on my business card, which I did not distribute widely. Furthermore, this number is currently disconnected, so even prospects that _might_ be trying to reach my former employer with concerns about a current deal will find themselves at a dead end.
I've written two very nice emails to the head of HR (whose decision this apparently is) detailing my case, and so far he has responded with a very short this-is-our-policy type of message, saying "It would be detrimental to the business if we released them." I'm not asking him to overturn the policy, I'm just asking for an exception on the grounds that this particular number is much more important to me than it is to them.
So at this point, what leverage do I have over my former employer? I have not yet signed the termination documents or returned assets like my laptop (they are based in another city), though I have already received my severance check. I don't really want this to get ugly: Except for the layoff (and of course, this phone issue), my experience there was quite positive.
So does anyone have any suggestions on what my next move should be? Has anyone heard of this policy at other companies? Thank you in advance.