November 06, 2008

Official T-Mobile Policy: Tough Luck If You Lose Messages

Greetings. In Readers Blow Their Stacks Over Voicemail Prompts and Beware: T-Mobile's Voicemail Paging Trap I recently discussed the serious risks of T-Mobile's voicemail system offering callers numeric paging even when the called party has numeric paging notification disabled (apparently the default setting).

The risks are obvious. Telling callers that they can leave a numeric page instead of a voicemail message, and then effectively throwing that page into the trash when the called party has paging notification off (and has no interest in returning a call to random paging call back numbers in any case), creates a terrible situation. You can easily end up with callers who believe that they are going to get a call back -- but never will. In critical situations, human nature being what it is, this could be disastrous.

The blog items noted above discuss this scenario in more detail.

I found it difficult to believe that official T-Mobile policy could possibly amount to the "tough luck" response that people seemed to be getting.

Unfortunately, it appears that T-Mobile is indeed giving their subscribers the "one-finger salute" on this matter.

I've now taken this issue up through T-Mobile Tier 2 support, media relations, and a few minutes ago with T-Mobile U.S. "Executive Resolutions" (Office of the President). I might as well have been talking to parrots. No, wait, that's not fair to parrots. You get more responsive statements when talking to those intelligent birds.

T-Mobile appears to be utterly and completely clueless about the risks associated with their current voicemail configuration, and totally unwilling to be educated on the matter. In all cases, I ended up receiving what sounded like the same prepared script informing me that "since all T-Mobile subscribers had the ability to enable numeric paging, all callers must receive the paging option."

I attempted to explain the obvious and potentially serious risks of accepting numeric pages, and even saying that they were sent, when the called party hadn't enabled paging notification and wouldn't return pages -- meaning that those pages were just being sucked into a black hole.

No luck. I might as well have been talking to machines -- the same unresponsive pap was just repeated to me again and again.

While I couldn't get any T-Mobile representative to admit it, it's clear that their policy in this regard amounts to a total lack of concern regarding whether or not T-Mobile subscribers can rely upon receiving even important messages.

I'm still not entirely sure whether I've penetrated deep enough within the T-Mobile corporate structure to reach someone competent to comprehend the risks involved in their current configuration. Perhaps there's someone in Germany (from where T-Mobile is ultimately controlled) who can understand the simple concepts involved.

In the meantime, I'll begin investigating the possible escalation of this matter to U.S. state and federal regulatory authorities.

Lost messages can be merely an inconvenience, or they can be a disaster affecting life and property. Technical problems will occur from time to time and can often be excused. But bad policies that create unnecessary risks, combined with an unwillingness to correct such policies, is an inexcusable situation.


Posted by Lauren at November 6, 2008 11:36 AM | Permalink
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