Xtreme Ebaying

“The Big Rip”

Verizon sez: You can’t sell phone numbers

By now, you’ve probably heard about the guy who put his mobile phone number — 867-5309 — up for sale on Ebay. Since that’s the number made famous by the Tommy Tutone hit song, it has been receiving massive bids: When I last checked in, it was going for $80,700. When I blogged about this a few days ago, I noted that customers do not actually own their phone numbers, and suspected that the phone company might step in and say, “hold it, we ought to get any cash for the sale here.”

Whaddya know. In an interview with Newsday, Verizon said such sales aren’t allowed:

But there’s a question of whether the number can even be transferred to the winner once the auction ends Feb. 22. Verizon says there’s no question: It can’t. Individuals do not have ownership of the numbers given to them, a Verizon spokesman said.

… and sure enough, if you check the item itself, it’s been taken down.

(Thanks to Boing Boing for this one!)

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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