Horror Story of the Week: How Not to Do a Hardware Upgrade

Hardware Upgrade Mishap: Imagine yourself in this situation: 


You are faced with the task of getting a new employee a new phone and number. In order to keep costs down, you decide to recycle one of the old unused numbers on your account.  You Find a number on your bill that is showing no usage and has the user name of employee who is no longer with the company.  A quick call to the carrier customer service confirms that there has been no usage, so you go ahead with the upgrade and switch to a new SIM card. 

Moments later you get a frantic call from one of your employees. Their phone has all of a sudden stopped working. When he gives you his number, your stomach drops. His number is the one that you just upgraded! 


After a few frantic phone calls, you get it sorted out, find another number, and get the upgrade and SIM card changed again. Again, your phone begins to ring. You brace yourself. It is another user. Their phone has mysteriously  stopped working. You don’t even want to ask, but get his number, only to find out it was the number your had used for the upgrade the second time. 


A few more frantic phone calls, and the second user has his phone again, you have found a third number for the upgrade. Hesitantly, you go ahead with the upgrade a third time, and change the SIM, and wait, staring balefully at the telephone. It rings as if to taunt you. You feel like bashing your head against the wall. If this is another user, you give up! The new guy can do without a phone! Finally you grab the phone and answer it…… and it is your mother. 


In terms of business, a problem like  this equals lost time and money, not to mention the mountains of frustration that both you and users have to endure. Hopefully this is a situation that you will be fortunate enough to avoid, but what do you do if you find yourself in this predicament?

  • Switch back SIMs:

Call your carrier customer service and switch back to the original SIM card. This will get your user back up and running again. Unfortunately, you will have to toss the SIM card that you activated. Because they can only be used by one number, you will not be able to reuse it.

  • Reverse the Upgrade:

Once you have switched the SIM’s back, explain what has happened and get the carrier to reverse the upgrade. Double check with them to make sure that you are not going to get charged any cancellation fees.

Once you find another number, you can continue with the upgrade on it, and switch the number to a new SIM.


Don’t want to find yourself in a situation like this? There are a few preventative actions that you can take:

  • Call the user:

While it may seem like a no-brainer, calling the user is a pretty effective way of finding out if the number is being used. Even if it goes to voicemail, chances are you will be able to find out who is using the phone by the greeting. If you still aren’t sure and the upgrade isn’t urgent, leave a message. If no one gets back to you in a couple days, then chances are the unit isn’t being used. Follow up with the carrier customer service to confirm if there has been no usage.

  • Keep a list:

User names are not always up to date with carriers. The easiest way around this is to make and update a list of active numbers and users. At a glance, you will be able to see who has what phone, and if there may be any spares kicking around. The key to this is to keep the list updated. If the list is not actively updated, then it becomes useless, and a problem like this one is more likely to occur.


While an issue like this one is not common, a little preparation never hurts when facing an issue like a hardware upgrade mishap. Whether you have someone to help you, or if you are faced with the task alone, knowing how to quickly resolve the issue is a great asset to your mobile expense management.


  1. Thanks for the helpful information! We wouldn’t have found this kind of on my own!

  2. How Not to Do a Hardware Upgrade | Telecom Expense Management http://ow.ly/61PCX


  1. […] see if any other cell phone numbers on the account are eligible for an upgrade. Sometimes you can use another mobile number in your fleet to get the needed new hardware for the discounted price – then just switch the […]

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