Wednesday, August 26, 2009

iPhone conference call problem

I was having problems with my iPhone's conference call feature. I could call one person, call a 2nd person, merge those calls, call a 3rd person, and...not merge the 3rd call into the first 2. I used to be able to do this. But it quit one day. This is kind of a problem since I host a weekly conference call with 3 other people.

My business partner's iPhone 3G had no problem doing this, so he has had to host the calls for a few weeks.


Especially since I knew that everyone is going to blame everyone else for the problem, and someone was probably going to even question whether the iPhone 3G supports a 4 way conference call. Sure enough. All of the above.

When I was at the Apple store a few weeks ago buying my son a Mac Mini, the salesperson suggested that I do a restore. I did that Sunday night. When it didn't resolve the problem I scheduled an appointment at the apple store genius bar.

My appointment at the genius bar was for Monday at 5:40 pm. At 6:30 pm, the genius, who had clearly been on her feet all day and was exhausted, called my number. I told her the problem. She straightaway said that she had seen this before, and that every time it was resolved by the customer calling AT&T who flipped a switch or something.

We talked about it for a bit because I wasn't convinced. I wasn't upset or anything, I just wanted to talk it through. She called for a test phone. Someone presented a clean iPhone 3G from the back. She pulled my SIM card and installed it in the clean phone. Sure enough the problem followed the SIM. I was convinced. It was an AT&T problem. Great. Now I had to call AT&T.

After 35 minutes on the phone with AT&T, talking to 3 people, and telling the story 3 times, the technician finally had an aha moment and realized that it must be the SIM that needs to be replaced. Ya think? So he added a note to my record and told me to go to an AT&T store, where they would swap out my SIM card for free. They did and now it's working!

I don't expect the receptionist or customer service rep at AT&T to be able to solve my technical problems. And I do understand that they can't send everyone with an issue straight to a technician (there's plenty of I.D.10.T problems out there). But I do expect the "technician" to have access to more internal resources than I have on Google. After "researching" it for about 10 minutes he came back to me and said that he couldn't find anything to suggest that the iPhone plan I was on supported more than 3 lines on a conference call. He came to this conclusion because the name of the feature on the plan was 3-way calling. OMG. If I were at my computer I could have sent him the link to the AT&T web page that clearly showed that the current 3G plans all support 5 line conference calling, but that AT&T has discontinued their formerly offered plans that allowed up to 6. But fortunately I was not at my computer. I knew better. For my mental health I was in my car driving in rush hour traffic. With nothing better to do than wait on hold.

I also expect Apple and AT&T to work together, since they are partnering to provide the iPhone product offering--the monthly plan and the pricing and the bundle is practically a joint venture. Apple proved to me that it wasn't a problem with the phone. They were willing to give me a brand new one, and almost did because I'm also having some (possibly related) issue with my battery draining too quickly. And Apple rescheduled me a genius bar appointment for tonight to give me a new phone in case my issues are not resolved. As for AT&T, I was told, "Oh sure, Apple blames it on us." Those aren't the exact words, but it is a very good translation from what TWO different people I talked to at AT&T said.

Finally, I would like to recommend to AT&T and all the companies out there with customer service centers that you DO NOT play commercials with a perky girl trying to sell me more of your stuff while I'm waiting on hold for excessive amounts of time. Every time that thing loops I want to strangle her. Instead, try to play something soothing. It could really help people calm down and not count the seconds of their life they've lost while your people try to work the system you've subjected them to. And I'm not talking about elevator music here. Good music. With a really long loop so I don't hear the same thing over and over.

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