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Thread: Looking for input on telecommunications scenario

  1. #1
    Senior Member rosarugosa's Avatar
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    Looking for input on telecommunications scenario

    This is giving me such a headache and I'm hoping someone has a solution! My mom has early Alzheimer's. She has a landline with a message machine (AT&T cordless handset). If she does not answer the phone, calls go to the phone's message machine and a message can be recorded. If she is on the phone or phone is off the hook, her calls go to Verizon home voice mail. A broken dial tone alerts her (in theory) that she needs to call a certain number to retrieve her messages. DH & I have the identical setup.
    The problem is that I've been unable to teach her how to retrieve those Verizon VM messages. I wrote up a step-by-step cheat sheet and we practiced, but she just didn't get it. (She can retrieve messages from her machine with no problem). I contacted Verizon and had them deactivate her Verizon VM, since I was concerned that she was getting messages and not retrieving them.
    So now the real problem seems to be that if someone calls when she is on the phone, the caller gets a message asking them to enter a code if they have a mailbox on the system. That is of course causing confusion and frustration.
    Any suggestions on how to make this better?

  2. #2
    Senior Member iris lilies's Avatar
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    How far away do you live, and why dont you make it your deal to check her messages when you are there?

    i have to wonder how important ARE the message left for her.

    For example, I no longer pay a whole lot of attention to my voicemail phone because I expect anything of importance to come to me via email when we go to our weekend house I come back and gosh there are messages but who cares. A recent one was marked “urgent” but you know what? It was not urgent and was in fact abput something I was not going to do.

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    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    IL has a point. I have a landline, but I only use it for outgoing calls when I conduct interviews. Otherwise, if people don't have my cell phone number, I assume messages are telemarketing or spam. I haven't checked my landline vm in ages. (I have to say, because of this I almost missed a family funeral, but one of my relatives was persistent and when they didn't see me at the wake they assumed I didn't get the message and they called me on my cell).

    Does your mother have any cell phone at all? Can you ask doctors and friends to text your mother as opposed to leaving messages? Or would that add to the confusion?
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    Senior Member SteveinMN's Avatar
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    If Mom can't manage dialing the phone (which she has done for decades) and push a few more buttons to retrieve voicemail, IMHO texting on a tiny cell phone is out of the question. I would not attempt that with my mom, and she does not have Alzheimer's and I did teach her successfully how to drive.

    rosa, regarding the prompt people get while she's on the phone, I didn't see that you asked Verizon what was up with that. That's what I would do first. Maybe that's something they misconfigured or they need to provision differently at the switching station (now that you can tell them what's not working properly).

    Another alternative would be for you or DH to check Mom's voicemailbox every n days or so. Every vm system I've used allows you to dial into the system using either the recipient's phone number and, say, pressing * or to dial into an assigned voicemail number and check that way. More work for you but it might be a way to catch important messages.

    If that's nothing Verizon can change, though, I'd strongly consider reinstating voicemail, recording a message stating Mom's name and number and telling callers right after that that her voicemail box will not be checked, so please reach Mom another way or leave a message at their own risk, not hers. Undoubtedly some daydreamer will screw that up, but they can't say they weren't warned.
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    Senior Member jp1's Avatar
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    I was going to ask the same thing about the prompt. Does the phone system not do busy signals anymore?

  6. #6
    Senior Member iris lilies's Avatar
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    Oh right, I forgot. Rosa would not have to actually be at her mothers house to check those messages.

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    Senior Member rosarugosa's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone. I can access her messages from my home, I just figured it was optimal if people didn't leave them in the first place. Might as well at least shoot for optimal, right? I agree that I need to call Verizon. I was expecting that callers would get a busy signal or something along those lines. Maybe Verizon just programmed something incorrectly, since the message seems odd and not relevant. It seems weird to me that home message machine can't take messages for both unanswered and busy, but reading through my own manual, it appears that might be the case.
    Mom exclusively uses a landline. We did get her a Jitterbug smart phone, but no luck so far in teaching her to use it, so that might be a lost cause. I haven't totally given up though.

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    Senior Member SteveinMN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rosarugosa View Post
    I was expecting that callers would get a busy signal or something along those lines. Maybe Verizon just programmed something incorrectly, since the message seems odd and not relevant. It seems weird to me that home message machine can't take messages for both unanswered and busy, but reading through my own manual, it appears that might be the case.
    Except for the odd prompt for the code, everything here is working as designed. The AT&T machine is tied to her landline phone; if the landline is busy, the answering machine cannot accept any calls. The Verizon voicemail is handled at their switching station; rather than offer callers a busy signal, the switch sends the call to voicemail. But Verizon can't do that once the call arrives at the house phone.
    Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome. - Booker T. Washington

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    Senior Member rosarugosa's Avatar
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    Thanks, Steve. That does make it easier to understand what's going on.

  10. #10
    Senior Member razz's Avatar
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    Rosa, are the messages necessary at all? If she answers, she is home and available to take the call. If she is on the phone, the line will be busy. If not, the phone rings. For decades that was all that was available.

    What does your mother really want or need as she sees it?
    Did Steve mention that a simple message could be left indicating that she is not available at this time, please call later? Is that what your mother would prefer? I have found that if a message is left, one assumes that the called party will hear and understand the message. This may be more of the problem. NO answering machine means that the calling party knows that no message was delivered.
    Gandhi: Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony .

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