Making Google Voice Work for You without more Work
You love the idea of Google Voice, you just don’t love the idea of trying to get all of your contacts to update their address books with your new phone number, right? So you’re all hot to port your mobile number to Google Voice now that Google has opened up the option to do so. The downside being that early termination fee, right? If you port your number out from your wireless carrier, that cancels your contract and they bill you for the ETF. Deal breaker, right? It isn’t if you plan a bit for the change.
Lifehacker, one of my all time favorite blogs, has a very nice writeup about porting your still under contract cell number to Google Voice while maintaining your current contract and avoiding the early termination fees normally associated with porting your number out from your wireless carrier.
How to Port Your Cell Number to Google Voice with no Termination Fee
I’ll summarize it by saying that the author called ahead to tell customer service what he was doing, ported his number to Google Voice and then went into the Verizon store and talked his way in to reactivating his contract with a new number assigned to his phone. And got his ETF waived. It’s an okay method to make this happen if you can walk the tightrope and pull it off, but there is a foolproof option that sidesteps the risk of encountering the ETF screw job altogether.
Step One: Find a Stupid Cell Phone; Not Android, Not BlackBerry, Just a Cell Phone
Dig up an old cell phone that you have lying around the house, charge the battery and then take it to a corporate store for your carrier of choice. Tell the nice person behind the counter that you would like to move your main number over to this plain old cell phone as a Family Plan, month-to-month add-on, for the purpose of porting the number out to Google Voice. Have them assign a new number to your Android device.
In every case where I have advised this method the person involved had their number moved to the older cellphone as a month-to-month addition to their family plan, got their number ported out without issue or ETF and had uninterrupted service.
The key steps:
- Find a plain old cell phone to use. Every carrier that I am aware of requires a new two-year agreement with every data plan, even if you bring in a device that you own. This needs to be a dumb phone.
- Explain what you want to do. Don’t just assume that the person helping you gets it. Tell them that your plan is to move your number to this month-to-month phone for the purpose of porting out to Google Voice while maintaining your current contract and service after the port is complete.
- Don’t sign anything until you read it. Make sure that you aren’t blindsided by buffoonery or inattention to the details.
- Make a call to customer service after your visit. Verify that you aren’t tied to a contract on that line and then initiate the port out of your number with Google Voice.
- If a mistake is made, walk right back in to the store and ask for the manager. Explain what happened and then demand that they fix it or undo the entire mess. The manager will correct the error and you will be on your way to completion.
The Costs, Without any ETFs
You can add a line to most any family plan for $10 a month. Google charges $20 to port in your existing cell phone number. For a total of $30 you have your cell phone number ported, you have a new private number assigned to your Android phone and you were never in danger of being charged an early termination fee.