Comcast Mistakenly Disconnects Telephone Number Customer Had For 54 Years

After more than five decades with the same phone number, Frances “Sugar” Shankman lost her number when Comcast mistakenly disconnected her line.” When Frances tried to get the number back, Comcast issued her a new one.

“This is ridiculous,” Shankman said. “I moved to Highland Park in 1952. I’ve had the same number since then.”

Since the account was in her late husband’s name, Shankman had to produce a death certificate, but by then it was too late. Comcast had put her number into the pool for new customers and wouldn’t give it back.

” Upset, Shankman canceled her service with Comcast and switched to AT&T on Nov. 16.

Her new phone company vowed to give her the old number, but only after Comcast released it, which under FCC rules must be done within 30 days.”

Finally, she wrote the Chicago Tribune who managed to get her number back through AT&T. Comcast has since apologized to Mrs. Shankman, and denied the Trib had anything to do with solving the problem.

” “We apologize for the inconvenience this caused Ms. Shankman,” Amores said. “Once we learned of her situation, we took immediate action to resolve it.”

People get attached to their phone numbers. You don’t want to mess with that. —MEGHANN MARCO

Phone customer gets lost in number game [Chicago Tribune]


Edit Your Comment

  1. homerjay says:

    Yet another reason to avoid Comcast like its got VD.

  2. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    Wow, that’s just heartless.

  3. RexRhino says:


    Unfortunatly, phone companies are not like brands of peanut butter. It is not even like long distance or mobile phones. There is not a lot of competition for local phone service.

  4. AcilletaM says:

    Comcast here sucks. Big time. My always on internet connection is not that. One CSR suggested the problem was I had the cable modem plugged into a surge protector. Multiple cable modems have come and gone and I finally snapped and told them if they send one more person here, it’s just going to be them picking up their shit and leaving.

    I will take any recommendations for an alternative with these restictions:
    1) Not AT&T. I don’t care if it’s free.
    2) I have 8Mbps and need it to be as fast as possible. I use it for work and the last thing I want to be doing at 3AM when I get paged is waiting to connect or waiting for the screen to refresh.

  5. Chairman-Meow says:

    Ever since I dropped Comcast and went Sattelite, I got those “we miss you” cards from them almost every day. It got so bad I actually called them in order to get them to stop.

    What are they thinking ? “Hey! maybe the 200th card will do the trick and he’ll come crawling back to us begging for bad-service and yet another shopping channel” ?

    Any company that raises rates so they can, and I quote “Provide better customer service” should be shunned. They are evil-bastards.

  6. homerjay says:


    Around here (not sure how it is where she is) when Comcast is a cable company who also offers phone service. Nowhere near here are they the only option. In fact, they’re typically the ‘alternative’ option.

  7. I get the same crap Front_Toward_Enemy. I canceled my digital cable TV because they were too expensive and put ads on the guide menus not even 3 weeks ago.

    Now, I get at least 1 flyer a day from Comcast with ridiculously expensive bundled offers. Yesterday’s offer was digital TV, internet and phone for the low low price of $159.99/month!

    The only reason Comcast is in business is because they are a monopoly.

  8. Bye says:

    Somebody needs to find out this poor woman’s old number and start calling the new owners asking them to give it up for the greater good. Hopefully it would only take 1 call, however…

  9. Bye says:

    Oops, sorry. Shoulda RTFA.

    Carry on!

  10. jacques says:

    I guess I’m lucky – I’ve got two cable companies here, WOW and Comcast. I ditched Comcast for DirecTV and AT&T. It costs a little more, but the service I’ve gotten from both are fine (no 3 hr hold times, and AT&T actually knows how to fix their DSL problems), and the 6MB connection for the DSL is fine.

  11. permissionmag says:

    “Comcast has since apologized to Mrs. Shankman, and denied the Trib had anything to do with solving the problem.”

    I’m glad Comcast sorted it out, but I’m constantly disgusted at the dishonesty of corporate communications. Of course the Trib had something to do with it. Does anyone think for one moment that they would have helped her without the public pressure?

    Phone numbers are something that can become as integral to our identity as addresses or Social Security numbers. I’m surprised that there is no law or regulation to protect people’s ownership of them.

  12. Permissionmag, that’s a really interesting idea!

    I think it was only recently that cell providers became required to port your old number for free. It would be interesting if we could register phone numbers like domain names…That would certainly reduce the number of calls from collection agencies for “Pedro” that I get on my new cell. -_-;

  13. GenXCub says:

    Crayon & Permission, I think that would be unrealistic (though a good idea in theory) because the whole point of a phone number is to give it out, which really makes it a different animal compared to a SSN. For the Original article, I could see why she would be angry… for myself, I’ve had so many phone numbers, that while I would be angry with my provider and search for another, I don’t think I’d be bothered having a different number.

  14. fotoman1133406 says:

    Bull, COMCAST finally “got there head out of it’s !@#$%^&*”:?>
    Bad publicity hurts, especialy when it’s over something stupid as this case.

    Way to go lady, you got them on there knees.

  15. Flashygrrl says:

    Yeah, we should be able to register our number and keep it forever, we just got a new one and keep on getting calls for “Mike”. Most of the people call during the day when my fiance is sleeping off third-shift. However, unfortunately, here at least the beginning three numbers in the phone number (not the area code) have to do with what part in town you are living in.

  16. silvertooth says:

    The EXACT same thing happened to me with Helio (cell phone provider), although it took a month to get my phone number back after being told over 30 times that it couldn’t be done. Then they billed me for the changes and for the phone that they had already taken back. I feel the pain.