By Kurtis Ming

Jacquie Bockius may be one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet.

After hurting her back, she spends most her days at her home of two decades, keeping her lush garden green and taking care of stray animals in the neighborhood.

“We have three dogs and many cats,” Bockius said with a smile, while holding “Percy,” one of the newer feline additions to her family.

Bockius is one of nearly one-fifth of Americans without a cell phone, partly because she says cell service at her home is spotty, so she relies on her landline phone to communicate with her doctors.

But one hot summer day, the calls stopped.

“Who knows how many important calls I’ve missed?” she said. “It may not be anything to other people, but it really … It turns my life upside down.”

When she called AT&T, she says she was told her number of 18 years didn’t exist — instead, the number belonged to a Comcast customer.

But her monthly AT&T bills showed otherwise.

“Why would my phone be given to someone else?” she told CBS Sacramento. “It just didn’t make sense. Everybody I know knows that number.”

“This is obviously a mis-port,” said Gary Almond, President of the Northeast California Better Business Bureau.

Almond said mistakes can happen when phone numbers are transferred from one company to another, a process known as “porting.” In this case, however, Bockius wasn’t trying to switch to Comcast — but somehow her number had been reassigned.

AT&T referred her to Comcast, then Comcast sent her back to AT&T. She never got an answer about what happened, even after purchasing a prepaid cell phone and using up all the minutes on hold.

“Nobody could tell me what’s going on,” she said.

“The big problem here is you have another carrier involved now,” Almond said.

When CBS Sacramento reached out to Comcast, the company told us it was all “a data entry error.” A worker who mistyped the phone number. Many companies, including Bockius’ provider, AT&T, have safeguards to protect against human mistakes like this, but for some reason it didn’t work here.

The day after we got involved, AT&T apologized for the situation and, Bockius’ phone was reconnected after a week of missed calls.

“I’m happy to have my phone back,” she said.

Comments (3)
  1. Todd says:

    This is actually not as uncommon as AT&T would leave you to believe. I used to manage the phone accounts for a large ($350M+) Sacramento business; this company had the same main number for the headquarters office for at least 15 years, but there were two separate occasions where our phones quit ringing – to find out that our main number had been given to a new customer (a new pest control company, and another new business).

    AT&T Admitted to me that there’s nothing in their systems that prevents a mis-key from causing this; that instead they’re dependent on checking multiple systems manually to ensure that the number isn’t already in use before assigning it.

    Because of the size of my account, I had enough pull to get things like this resolved within about 24 hours – but for a residential user it would be hard to get through to anyone who could actually help.

  2. michelle says:

    this happened to me but with my wireless prepaid service. an att retail store allowed a guy who I just met & don’t know at all who only knew my name & cel # to cancel my service,and gave him my credit balance & take over my cel # I’ve had for 3 yrs. the guy asked me for 2 wks to be put on his acc but I wasn’t comfortable with it. had no idea he could do it without my consent but he did. he lets me use the ph but he has control of it & its been my business line im self employed hairstylist. been on ph a total of 5 hrs & get nowhere. ugh! help

    1. michelle says:

      *on ph with att for more than 5 hrs total after several attemps for anwsers. the guy drinks a lot and its scary I’ve met him breifly two times. he wanted to date me but I didn’t. I’ve got several different responses from att & the store who made a sale off him that’s why they allowed iit I think but I only get limited info bc I don’t have last 4 digit of his ssn. even tho he cancelled my acc. there more b.s any suggestions? text me 209-256-4886

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