HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – Switching cell phone carriers is a common practice. But for one local woman it created a rare complication.
Years ago, Wendy Roblero decided to change cell phone carriers. She brought her old number with her to her new company. But it appears her old cell phone provider never made her number inactive, and is reissuing it to other customers.
"I started getting calls for one person and I thought 'this is odd' so I thought 'well, maybe a lady met someone at a bar, didn't want to give out her number, fudged it and it happened to be my number,'" she recalled.
But the calls kept coming.
"A couple of days later I got a call from a lady saying 'Please don't be angry with me. But we have the same number, I've just purchased a phone and this is the number they gave me.' It wasn't her fault," said Roblero.
It made Roblero realize there was a bigger problem than just getting a few people calling the wrong number. Anytime someone dials her number, it is a coin toss to see which phone will ring; Wendy Roblero's phone, or a complete stranger's phone.
"The frustrating part is there are so many representatives that tell me 'that can't happen," Roblero said.
Technically, it shouldn't happen. Each cell phone company has a pool of numbers they pull from to give out to customers. When a customer brings, or 'ports,' a number, that number should no longer be in the pool. Even when someone cancels a service, typically cell phone companies keep a number inactive for several years.
"I never know which of my calls are coming to me, and which are going to her," said Roblero.
Her cell phone provider said people calling with her same carrier will get through to her. But most of the time, Roblero notices it is more like a coin toss, with a stranger picking up calls meant for her.
"Even yesterday, my mechanic called to tell me my car was ready, but she got the phone call and told him you have the wrong number. It's frustrating," said Roblero.
She also uses the phone for her business calls.
"When she tells them they have the wrong number and it's someone who doesn't know me well enough to know what's going on, or if it is a client, it can be an entirely missed opportunity," she expressed.
Even worse, Roblero said, is when people don't pick up the phone to call, but send text messages.
"Through a text message there is absolutely no idea they are talking to another person unless they volunteer that information," she worried.
So, why doesn't she just change her number?
"It's been suggested I change my number. But I was the first owner of this number, issued at least ten years ago," she explained, adding how frustrating it would be to contact every person she has met over the last ten years to tell them she has a new number.
WMBF News contacted representatives from both stations. Her past carrier is engaging a customer service team to find out how this problem happened, and how to resolve it for Roblero.