Man Wants $1 Million for Prestigious NYC Area Code


area-codeAn eager eBay seller hopes to capitalize on the cachet of a 212 phone number by hawking his digits for a cool $1 million. A listing for (212)-5XX-9000 went up a year ago on the auction site, and 26 offers rolled in.

They ranged from $2 to $500, though, and none was “serious,” said the seller, Carmen, who doesn’t want to give his full name or phone number, fearing pranksters.

A demand exists for the coveted area code, said David Day, manager of, a site selling the Manhattan numbers. He called it a status symbol.

“Individuals come because they don’t want to get stuck with a 347 or 646 from the phone company, which makes them look like they are new to the city,” he said. “Then you have corporations or businesses that come to us because they have a reputation and they want to stand out. They don’t want to look like they just set up shop.”

A 212 number goes for anywhere from $50 to $500 on eBay. But Carmen, a retiree from Fort Lee, N.J., is banking that a company will pay much more for his easy-to-remember digits for its business branding.

Carmen got the number 35 years ago for his business, when he had an office in midtown.

On a whim he requested a double or triple-zero phone number from Verizon’s customer service. To his surprise, the phone company granted his wish.

“I was tickled pink when I got that number,” he said. “I was a one-man-show at that time. I advertised considerably back in those days. The name and number association was one and the same.”

Roughly six months later, Verizon came calling back and said they gave out that number by mistake, Carmen said.

“They typically reserve numbers like these for big companies, and they wanted it back. I said, ‘No way,'” he recalled.

Now he hopes the sale of the digits will help cover the care of his 98-year-old mother, who has dementia.

Is it legal? Verizon said it’s unclear, but points out that New York State Public Service Commission rules say subscribers have “no proprietary right in any number that is assigned by the Telephone Company.”

That said, switching a phone number over is technically possible, said Bill Kula, Verizon’s director of media relations.

Both Verizon and AT&T say they still hand out 212’s on a rolling basis because people give them up when they move out of the area. Neither company would specify if they had any to hand out.

{NY Daily News/}