Griping about AT&T, and Visual Voicemail problems on the iPhone

Sun, Jul 19, 2009


If there’s one glaring downside to iPhone ownership, most people would agree that its having to endure AT&T’s somewhat shoddy cellphone coverage.  AT&T’s coverage is so poor in some areas that many people who would otherwise purchase an iPhone have remained on the sidelines, silently hoping and praying that the iPhone soon makes it over to another carrier like Verizon.

With it still unclear as to when Apple’s contract with AT&T expires, and whether or not Apple is planning on renewing its exclusivity contract, those with a burning fire of hatred for AT&T might take solace in the following story from MG Siegler from TechCrunch

Siegler takes AT&T to task for what he portrays as their complete and utter disregard for keeping their customer base informed about a very important technical glitch that affected a number of AT&T customers over the past few weeks.  Specifically, Siegler writes that the visual voicemail feature on the iPhone was out of commission for a few weeks, and that AT&T lazily went about handling the matter.

In my mind, the most recent AT&T failure is completely inexcusable. Its visual voicemail system — which is the only way to be notified of voicemails on the iPhone — has been down for many users for days, if not weeks. And AT&T apparently didn’t bother to tell anyone. What does this mean? Thousands, or hundreds of thousands or maybe even millions of missed connections, that could be vital for personal lives, business and a host of other things. I’m simply dumbfounded by the failure.

Here’s how I found out about it. While I was coming home from the office yesterday, I all of a sudden got bombarded by visual voicemails. It was only then that I realized that I had not received one in a while. How long? Since sometime before July 3, apparently. Yes, 2 weeks without a single voicemail.

Even better is that not only did I get bombarded by these weeks old voicemails at once, but I still cannot listen to them. It has been over a day since the notifications finally came in, and visual voicemail is still down…

Oh, and did I mention that half of those missed voicemails don’t even show up in my call logs as missed calls? So who knows what else I’ve missed from people who didn’t bother to leave voicemails…

AT&T promises that network upgrades are coming, but the fact is, the company has had over 2 years to fix these issues (that have arisen since the launch of the iPhone) and they have not. Hell, they can’t even get basic services like MMS and tethering working, even as their carrier counterparts in other countries already have them up and running. And now you can add visual voicemail to the list. Pathetic.

Yikes, no missed calls and no visual voicemails for that length of time is a serious problem.

AT&T undoubtedly loves the monthly revenue it gets from iPhone users (an average of $90 a month), but given all of AT&T’s problems over the past 2 years, you have to wonder if they simply bit off more than they can chew.  In a certain regard it’s not really AT&T’s fault – I mean, who could have predicted just how popular the iPhone would become, and just how frequently its owners would use the device for data intensive tasks.  But like Siegler points out, they’ve had well over 2 years to address and resolve these concerns, so there’s really only so much slack you can give them.


, ,

2 Comments For This Post

  1. Andrew Schamess Says:

    I’m an MD and the visual voicemail problem for me is major. Since coverage is spotty, my phone often does not ring; and I’ve been getting voicemail messages hours or days late. This means patients, hospitals, etc. cannot reach me in an emergency.

    I spent hours with AT&T support over several days last week. They reset my network settings, changed the piping on my phone, and many other things. Nothing worked. Tech support finally said there’s nothing more they can do. Apparently the problem is with the subcontractor who translates their phone messages into visual voicemail.

    I’m now in a position where I have no choice but to change carriers. I cannot afford to have a non-functional phone. And AT&T is saying they won’t let me out of the contract – even though it’s their own failure of service that’s forcing me to change. So now, in addition to losing the use of a phone that cost me $400, I get to pay $120 to AT&T for early contract termination.

    Extremely frustrating. I’d advise anyone considering an iPhone purchase to hold off until they have this resolved, or until they open iPhone to other carriers.

  2. KMacD Says:

    There are certain contractual obligations that AT&T agreed to when you signed up. One of those, though it may be “implied” (legal term), is that AT&T make a reasonable effort to provide the services agreed upon. Call your CPA and have them call their attorney. The instructions to the attorney should be, “I will not pay the early termination fee due to breach of contract on the part of AT&T. Further, I would like for you to handle this matter to my financial satisfaction without further discussion. Thank you very much.” Then get on about the business of helping patients.

eXTReMe Tracker