Don’t you just LOVE it when your wireless cell provider decides to change things on your account without you asking or them telling you?!?  And then you get to WASTE YOUR TIME on the phone with them while they fix it!

OK – here’s what happened:  My brother sent me an email the other day saying the voicemail on my cell phone doesn’t work any more.  I tried it from my home phone, and sure enough, if I don’t pick up, I get a fast busy when it would normally go to voicemail.

So I call AT&T’s support line.  I get a very pleasant sounding woman, explain to her that my voicemail doesn’t seem to work any more, and she looks up my account.  After a minute, she tells me that the voicemail feature was removed from my account on Nov. 14, but there is no note in the account as to why someone might have done that.  (I left Sprint because they seemed to be changing things every couple of months just to see if I was paying attention – I don’t need AT&T doing that as well!)  Anyway, she added back my voicemail feature and told me I’d need to go in to my voicemail to set it up once we finished.  Fair enough considering… (she was rather helpful and pleasant, I have to credit her that)  She told me she’d call me back on a land-line to help me go through the setup.  I gave her my home number, then waited a minute until she called me back on my cell phone.  She told me that my home line blocked the call since her company (a contactor to AT&T) has the caller-ID blocked!  Why does a phone company (or its subcontractor) need to block its caller-ID?!??  (I HATE IT when a company does that!)  Anyway, I was on my own trying to set up my voicemail.

I hung up the phone and immediately dialed my voicemail.  I got a recording saying “Welcome to voicemail.  Press 1 to access your voicemail once the greeting has started.  Press 2 to send voicemail to someone’s mailbox…”, a bunch of crap like that (I don’t recall the exact words).  I was waiting for some “greeting” to start so I could press 1 to access my voicemail.  It never happened.  So I press 1 and it asks for my mailbox number.  What mailbox number?!?  I never had a mailbox number before!!  I tried my cell phone number, but it didn’t like that.  It told me “if you don’t know you mailbox number, contact your administrator”.  I AM THE ADMINISTRATOR!!  It’s my account – I pay the bill!

After several attempts at accessing my voicemail, I decided to call back AT&T support from my land-line so they could guide me through the process on my cell phone.  I got Larry.  He made me tell him my phone number a last 4 digits of my SSN (which I’ve already entered on the keypad).  What is wrong with these companies?!?  (I think I know, but I’ll save that for another blog entry)  Anyway, it took me a few minutes to get him to look up my account and explain what was happening.  He asked if he could put me on hold a minute so he could analyze the account to see what was going on?  As if I had a choice, I said OK.  NINE MINUTES LATER, he comes back on the line and asks me try dial voicemail on the phone.  I dialed, got the same prompts, etc.  He suggested using my cell phone number without the area code as my mailbox number.  (geez, that’s an obvious thing to try)  No luck.  We tried a few other variations with no luck.  He asked if he could put me ON HOLD AGAIN so he could investigate this some more.  Sure, why not?  What else could I be doing with my time?!?

Anyway, after 10 more minutes on hold, someone (not Larry) picks up the phone: “Hello, may I help you?”  “Who is this?  And what happened to Larry?” I asked.  He said he doesn’t know what happened to Larry or why I was transferred to him, but if I explained my situation, he’d try to help me.  At this point, I was already on the phone with Larry for 30 minutes!  Now I get to start over?!?  Anyway, I explained that my voicemail wasn’t letting me in to set things up.  He looked up my account, tweaked a few things, told me to power-cycle the phone a few times, but I kept getting the same old crap when I went into voicemail.  He had me pull up the voicemail phone number setting in the phone – it said “+1401xxxxxxx” – he instructed me to remove the “+” from the number.  Really?  I’ve had this phone for over a year, and all of a sudden, it doesn’t like the “+”?!?  Anyway, I removed it and that didn’t make a difference.  He said “Oh, OK, I know what’s happening…”, pushed a few keys on his keyboard and said “try again”.  FINALLY, the voicemail prompts were making sense, asking my to set up my PIN and greeting.

It only took 50 minutes on the phone with AT&T’s “technical support” to get my cell phone’s voicemail working again!