Many Chinese like to believe having 8s and 6s in their phone numbers will guarantee good luck, but for a Shanghai Mobile customer, triple 8s have brought him nothing but trouble.
Allen Xu has used one phone number for the last 10 years: 13917200888. Without any warning, the digits were reclaimed by Shanghai Mobile, a branch of telecommunications service provider China Mobile. The telecommunications provider claimed Xu owed 7 yuan.
Xu's wife, Chang Ling, who posted the story on China’s micro-blogging service Sina Weibo , said they paid the 7 yuan on November 26. However, the couple was told to deposit 14,000 yuan more (HK$17,000) and agree to pay 400 yuan a month to keep the phone number.
When they didn’t agree, Shanghai Mobile told the couple the number was a “national high-quality resource” and refused to give it back.
The story enraged many netizens who speculate that Shanghai Mobile intends to resell the number for a high profit.
On Shanghai Mobile’s official website, favourable numbers are sold at 50 yuan, 100 yuan, or even higher prices.
Chang told SCMP.com on Thursday that senior officials from Shanghai Mobile had contacted her boss, threatening her to delete the Weibo post.
In a phone conversation, a top official from Shanghai Mobile also promised her to resolve the dispute by Monday. They had repeatedly asked Chang to delete her Weibo post, which she refused, said Chang.
“They have made no attempt to contact my husband, who is the owner of the number,” she said. “Instead they did so many unnecessary things including talking to my boss.”
Chang said she found Shanghai Mobile’s approach ridiculous.
“We want Shanghai Mobile to resolve this according to their laws and regulations,” she said. “We will accept any result as long as they offer a clear explanation.”
"I don't care if this means I will lose my job," Chang said.