Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Porting numbers or not...

As I am sure every single one of our VoIP customers knows, we can't (yet) port numbers out to another provider.

What we can do is direct the calls to a SIP endpoint anywhere on the planet for no charge (for the calls), so pretty flexible.

To be honest I suspect it will be a while before we can. We use SIP based carriers and have no SS7 ourselves, yet. You never know, one day we may have it sorted. But we have no actual porting agreements in place to port out numbers at present.

OFCOM make it clear that have to explain this to customers, including during the sales process, and we do. And we keep a clear record of it. People have moaned that there are rather a lot of check boxes on the number orders, and this is one of them. OFCOM make us point of a number of things to customers!

So what the hell do you do when someone is making formal complaints that we are obstructing his number port? He keeps hassling and now is making a formal complaint to us and OFCOM!

It has got to the stage that he now agrees that he saw and agreed the terms but he still expects something more to be done on his complaint. As far as I am concerned, having agreed we told him we can't port numbers, the fact we don't port numbers is not actually a dispute - it is what was agreed!

Hopefully this is now clear enough evidence of a non-complaint that when he tries to go to ADR we can get it thrown out without a case being started. It would be an interesting test of the new ADR provider.

There is no dispute to resolve - we 100% agree with him that we don't port numbers out. No dispute at all to resolve.

We charge £1/month for a number, and nothing for incoming calls. We make nothing either. We can't be having a service like that which could cost over £300 for ADR and a lot of time. The whole thing is mental. If this went to ADR I *would* put up the prices of our numbers and you can thank OFCOM for that.

Oh well, we'll see how it goes. What we can be sure of is that ADR will make this customer uneconomical to supply service to, which would be a shame.

Update: Is this fair?
Your emails, and in particular the order confirmation you agreed and
your recent statement that you agreed those terms, will be held as
evidence should you try and take this matter further. If you do take
this matter further I feel it will become uneconomical to continue
providing services to you. As director I am legally required by the
Companies Act to act in the best interests of the shareholders, so will
have no choice but to terminate your services in accordance with agreed
contract terms should they become uneconomical to provide. However, at
this stage we have no plans to terminate your services.

15 comments:

  1. Take a look via Google at various people's rants about Tesco Homephone - when it existed. It was used by a lot of SOHO businesses, and there was no porting agreement when they went belly up. To my knowledge they didn't advertise up front that there was no agreement. My $dayjob-1 had a number of small local businesses call us trying to port their numbers over, and we had to order them new numbers. There was certainly no comeback for them in that case.

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    1. Indeed - there is a requirement to say up front (which we do), but what is fun is, as far as I know, if a supplier goes bust then ported out numbers would stop working anyway. So even buying where there is a porting agreement, and even porting out, would not stop the problems. Crazy system!

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  2. UK number porting is just call diverts on steroids. Not a good solution!

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  3. I worry about the non portability of the numbers that I have with Gradwell. I've not formally asked them if I can port numbers away but I assumed that I cannot. There was no attempt to make me aware of the portabillity status when placing an order.

    AAISP have incredibly fair pricing for VoIP _and_ make it very obvious what features exist or don't exist. Don't let this customer get their way! It's harsh but what is the point in having the excessive tick boxes if they solve nothing.

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    1. I won't - I am slightly calmer about this whole ADR crap now, as I have had my world view re-aligned the last time, so it is less of a shock now.

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    2. Gradwell do have out bound number porting agreements with us (i.e. my company, I am not speaking on behalf of AAISP here) as well as about a dozen other SIP carriers, just as a point of interest.

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  4. Sometimes I think there needs to be a reading comprehension test before people can fill out forms on the internet. We state twice on every page on our website that we don't actually make/receive phone calls due to hearing disabilities, but we had another person email us asking for us to call them.... Grr.

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    1. Maybe they had visual disabilities... What's sauce for the goose...

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    2. Nah - they wanted a phone call to "ensure we weren't indian fraudsters"

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  5. As a silent reader, I must agree porting is practically impossible. yes technically it is possible. but in the cases we have attempted in the last 18 months. only one was successful and we have SS7 direct to BT!

    Our alternative option is as suggested, forward the calls/traffic to alternative locations using SIP or IAX. In these cases where the end customer has been happy to do this, it has been 100% successful! Maybe it's time the whole porting arrangement was reviewed/slashed. At the end of the day nobody really owns the telephone numbers they pay to use, not even the network operator! it's just assigned to permit the use of such numbers. so porting should be changed to diverting of calls to alternative locations, a bit like someone suggested above!

    Porting of numbers in theory should only be required if the operator of number can't provide the service, what's worrying is it's used in most cases purely to cover commercials when an alternative provider promises the earth for a lot less. in this case maybe a standard porting/sip forwarding agreement needs drawing up, not for free! And not to be used for abuse by the position of the number supplier by holding their number to ransom over costs (remember mac codes and dsl... I'll go no further.)

    At the end of the day if it's ported out or forwarded via sip to another location. the number operator is STILL holding that number and continue to provide a service even if it's ported away.

    Keep smiling and providing an excellent service, you can't keep everyone happy but your best efforts will provide a good service :)

    and apologies for the random mumblings this morning...

    Dave

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  6. I don't understand why the Customer cannot port the number away from your supplier?

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    1. We have not porting agreements in place - no telcos have asked for any. That is why.

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  7. I've lost count of the number of times I've emailed a company and had the reply 'phone us on xxxx' (where xxxx is the number already on the website, right under the email address).

    Some companies just don't seem to understand that (a) if I'd wanted to phone I'd have done so already, and (b) WTF is the point of posting an email address if you're not prepared to use it, and (c) by replying in that manner they just lost my business, permanently.

    It's somewhat unsurprising it happens the other way around. One of these days I'll get an email asking someone to call me about a fax they sent me by post...

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  8. From a conversation on IRC, a few of us wondered why ENUM was not being pushed a little more strongly.

    It would be easy for a co-operative of UK telcos to come together to create something like http://e164.org. This would permit, for example, porting agreements between ourselves (Vitell) and A&A to be very easily created and managed.

    Better, however, would be if Nominet published more than "for more information, contact us" (http://www.nominet.org.uk/whoweare/whatwedo/our-products-services/enum) on their website - Have they even got ENUM up and running properly and available for use yet?

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  9. Ah, porting. My favourite subject.

    It's a complete mess, isn't it? I keep hearing promises of a proper UK portability database, but am yet to see anything concrete.

    Re: e164.org, watch this space...

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