If you didn’t already know, I’m moving from Vancouver, BC to Toronto, ON this coming January to start work at a new company – leaving my present company after 14 years. I moved to Vancouver specifically to work there, because my H1-B visa for the US was expiring and I couldn’t stay in the US. At the time, it seemed that Vancouver would be a good ‘temporary’ location to stay in North America and then get back down to the US.

Yeah, that didn’t happen, and with the current state of things in the US, is not going to happen any time soon.

With the current company heading into treacherous waters (45 people leaving in the space of a year), I felt it time to jump ship – and the ship I found is over the other side of Canada with a company that does almost the same thing, but for a different customer sector. A pretty good match, in all.

But, as part of the move process, I can’t keep my current phone number. Rogers Wireless wants $250 in penalty for me to move the number to a different carrier, because no way am I going to pay their phone plan prices. So, I got a new phone number, and everything worked fine in changing things over to use it … until it came to my Amazon account.

The problems I have had with trying to change my Amazon account to use this number have been incredible, and it was recommended by an Amazon employee friend I have that I email Jeff Bezos – the head honcho there (and, I think, currently the richest man in the world). Now, it’s quite likely that he himself will ever see this email, as there’s apparently a team that reads the email that goes to him and sends it in the right direction, makes things happen. But still, if it ends up with this issue getting fixed… then yay.

Here’s what I sent, which explains the situation well, I think:

Dear, Jeff,

It is not usual for me to escalate a customer service issue to a CEO, but after expressing my frustration over this particular issue to an Amazon employee, they recommended that I contact you.

Here is the situation:

I am changing jobs, and as a result of this, moving from Vancouver, BC to Toronto, ON.  For the last 10 or so years, my employer in Vancouver has provided me with a cell phone – and this has been the only phone number I have had. However, as it will cost me a not insignificant amount to keep this phone number, I opted to get a new phone number instead. I got such a new number this week (Tuesday December 26th), and began the process of changing all the places online that use a phone number as some method of username. I lose access to this previous number on January 5th 2018.

All went well with this, until I got to trying to change my mobile phone number with Amazon. The message that I received when attempting to do this through the site was that the “mobile phone number (I) provided is already in use”, and that I should use a different phone number. But this will be the only phone number I have, so that is not an option.

I then contacted customer service on Tuesday. First I used the online chat service, who said they could not help, and said this needed to be dealt with over the phone. I then used the number provided, and spoke with someone. It took some time for them to actually understand what I was trying to do, and then they claimed they had made the change.

I checked on the site the next day, and no change had been made.

I called customer service again today, and it was explained that this change could not be made because this phone number was already in use by another Amazon subscriber.

I do know that there is a good chance from time to time that such a situation could happen – where someone perhaps changes their phone number and does not update their account, or perhaps even the account holder (for whatever reason) no longer has that phone number, and no longer uses (again, for whatever reason) the Amazon service. I would find it quite hard to believe that my situation is unique.

I did suggest to the CSR that perhaps they could use the same method of authentication as they did earlier in the call – send a code to the new phone number, which I could read back to them, in order to demonstrate that I do have the phone number that I am trying to change my account to use. I was informed that because there is this account that is still open with this – my new – phone number, that this is not possible, and that I should use a different number.

I escalated the call to a supervisor, who went to investigate this more. They called me back later and recommended that I talk to my cell phone provider, and inform them that I have been given a phone number that is already in use. The only place that this phone number is considered to be ‘in use’ is Amazon – nowhere else have I had that issue.

As I have just gone through and changed my phone number in many places, as well as providing this new number to friends and family, I do not consider this to be an acceptable solution.

While I do understand that an account holder’s security is a very prime concern, by not allowing the phone number to be changed to someone who can demonstrate they are the holder of that phone number, this could potentially give me access to that subscriber’s account – merely by using my new phone number with the “Forgot Password” feature on the site, and getting a temporary access code sent to that phone number.

I have zero desire to break into the account that way, but it does highlight a definite security flaw that is exposed by customer service’s policy of not changing the phone number, despite my being able to prove it is mine.

I am hoping that you may be able to address this issue, please.

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