NewsLocal News


Woman fighting with phone companies to get landline number ported for husband with Alzheimer's disease

It's the only number he knows, she says
Posted at 5:44 PM, Jan 31, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-10 20:19:21-05

NORTH ROYALTON, Ohio — A viewer reached out to News 5 Investigators for what she considers an emergency. She has a landline but the number is in limbo and says she needs it for her husband’s health and safety.

Barbara Stefanick has been trying to keep the landline number she’s had for more than two decades. It’s the only number her husband knows.

Phone number porting is when you switch service providers but keep your old number.

Stefanick says she did it once before with no problem, until now.

To some, a home phone may be just a relic of the past, but to Stefanick it’s a lifeline.

"I'm just a real believer in landlines just for security, for safety, reliability,” Stefanick said.

But recently, Stefanick hasn’t been able to rely on the number she’s had for 25 years.

"It's just been so frustrating because my husband knows this phone number. If he were to get lost, it would be so good for him to have the phone number. In his mind to have somebody call,” Stefanick said.

Stefanick and her husband, Ernie, moved back to Ohio from Massachusetts in early December.

"I was really surprised when we found this place,” Ernie said.

The move, Stefanick says, was for the great healthcare options. Ernie is living with Alzheimer’s disease.

"He's just sweetly forgetful and hates to admit it, so I'm just trying to make things fluid for him,” Stefanick said.

What hasn’t been fluid, is the process of getting their landline ported.

"I probably have talked to at least 20 different people,” Stefanick said.

Stefanick says it wasn’t a problem when she had it done four years ago for the move to New England.

"They just flipped a switch,” Stefanick said.

Stefanick says she’s been on the phone with three different companies, Verizon, Spectrum and AT&T. News 5 Investigators reached out to all of them to help her solve this problem.

"I said, really to me, this is an emergency that we get this done. That has not helped,” Stefanick said.

Verizon, which Stefanick says she’s been paying to keep the line active, told me the number belongs to AT&T.

An AT&T representative said it’s not their account.

Spectrum is Stefanick’s new carrier and Spectrum says it’s not their issue, it’s between AT&T and Verizon.

But Spectrum says Stefanick is being directly handled by their escalation department.

"They've canceled, I think, 10 times,” Stefanick said.

"We've already paid two months for this number, that's just in the air. I can't envision this. It’s somewhere up there and you can't just get it down,” Stefanick said.

Stefanick is a retired nurse. She stood up for her parents and now her husband.

"I used to really fight for them and I really felt sometimes you have to have somebody fight for you and so many times it worked out,” Stefanick said.

News 5 Investigators first met Barbara and Ernie last Thursday.

Stefanick says she was told Monday by Spectrum this job was expedited and set another date next month to come out. She was pleased with the conversation but still isn’t confident it’ll happen.

We did ask if she considered using a cell phone.

Stefanick says she has her own cell phone and doesn’t want a second one. She says she tried one with her husband, but it didn’t work out. She just wants the landline number for his safety and her peace of mind.

We started looking into this after Stefanick reached out to us. If you have a story you think we should dig into, contact the News 5 Investigator Tip Line by emailing or calling 1-888-WEWS-TIP.

Watch live and local news any time:

News 5 Evening

Download the News 5 Cleveland app now for more stories from us, plus alerts on major news, the latest weather forecast, traffic information and much more. Download now on your Apple device here, and your Android device here.

You can also catch News 5 Cleveland on Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, YouTube TV, DIRECTV NOW, Hulu Live and more. We're also on Amazon Alexa devices. Learn more about our streaming options here.