COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A Columbia couple returned from vacation last week to find a surprise -- their phone number had been given away to another person with no warning.
Alvin McNaughton's home phone said "Check Telephone Line" after returning from an out-of-town trip to his home in Wildewood a couple days ago.
He found out there was nothing wrong with the phone or the line, so he called AT&T on his cell phone and was told "that they gave our number away," said McNaughton. "I said, 'what?' Actually, I said more than that."
McNaughton says the AT&T rep explained the number had been transferred to Sprint. "I asked why, and he said 'because they asked for it,'" recounted McNaughton. "I said, 'well didn't you check to see if it was an active line before you gave it away?' And he said, 'uh, no.'"
Using the cell phones that he and his wife ordinarily only use for emergencies, McNaughton started calling everyone he could think of to find out why his land line number had been swiped.
He talked to people in Dallas and Nashville and San Francisco, burning up most of the minutes on the prepaid phones. "You can't talk to the same person twice," said McNaughton. "They have people all over the country. And they'll give you their name and their employee number and such, but you can't get back to them."
McNaughton also called the woman who'd been assigned the number that used to be his. "I said 'it's put us in a bad situation because all of our doctors and everybody has that number for us, and I was wondering if you would mind giving it up?'" said McNaughton. "She said, 'absolutely not.' That's a bad thing to do."
McNaughton says he pays his bills, and hasn't been able to find out why his number was snatched away and handed to someone with a completely different phone company. AT&T has assured him he will have his number and service back by Friday.
A spokesman issued a statement Wednesday afternoon apologizing to McNaughton for the mistake. The statement says AT&T "knows better than anyone the importance of staying connected."