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by Shawn B.

This is one of the most misunderstood problems by clients and customer service reps alike.

Most of the time, when a person hears that their friend can't call them, they twist the issue around and say "my phone can't receive calls".

Let's be clear about something: if you try to trouble-shoot this from a "can't receive calls" viewpoint, you are going to arrive at the wrong conclusions. Not receiving calls is a passive problem and if you think that way, you have a bit of a victim-mentality, but that's another subject for another day.

Not being able to make calls is an active problem, and THAT is always where you want to start your trouble-shooting investigation.

KEY POINT: Whoever can't make the call is the party that investigates the issue.

Burn this phrase into your brain. Ninety-nine per cent of the time, the origination point of the problem is also the cause of the problem. So if a land line can't call a cell phone, the owner of that land line needs to call their provider. If another cell phone can't call your cell phone, that friend of yours needs to call their provider. It's so simple, yet no one gets it.

Now, it IS true that sometimes the problem ends up being on the receiving network's end...and sometimes the problem is with some third party that is carrying the land line or long distance traffic, but the only way that is going to be determined is if the originating network duplicates the call and then traces it to the sticking-point.

Possible Sticking-Points:

1) The originator could be pointing the call to the wrong switch, CLLI, point code, etc. They could also be pre-pending the wrong digits. They're not doing a dip. Usually you'll hear some kind of an error message. Pay attention to which phone provider is giving the error message.

2) There may not be enough trunks or T1's between the two (or more) networks. In this case, the caller might hear an intermittent "fast-busy".

3) In a lot of cases, if your number range is brand new and just got released, some networks are too stupid, inept, or lazy to load the range into their translations tables. This is silly, considering the phone networks are alerted months before a new line range is due to go live!

There are other reasons for these problems, but the best way to get them solved is for the originator to call their provider. TIP: when the originator calls into their customer service department, they should just say "I can't call such-and-such number". Do NOT say the name of the provider who owns the number you're trying to call. Too often, the untrained service rep, who is probably penalized for logging trouble-tickets, will say "Oh, you can't call such-and-such? Well, then, it must be their problem."

I don't know what it is, but when service reps hear the name of another provider, they get stupid all of a sudden and start pointing fingers away from the obvious source of the problem.

I hope those reps get to read this article.

In the end, whoever can't make the call MUST force their provider to log a ticket. If it's your friends, clients, or family members that can't call YOU, and THEY don't want to fix the problem, you're kind of trapped, aren't you? Do you call your cell phone provider and yell like a maniac, saying "Fix it!"? Think of the situation you've just made for the service rep you just spoke to; you've told them to go find out what provider your friend/client/family member is on, and potentially what long distance provider they're using, and to then start calling around that company in order to fix a problem that your friend, client, or family member should have done themselves. Now there's TWO MIDDLE MEN (you and the service rep) trying to work on the problem that you shouldn't be involved in.

Why not just ask the janitor there to handle it?! They're just as close to the problem as everyone else in the middle!

In the end, I want you to remember one thing:

Whoever can't make the call is the party that investigates the issue.

About the Author

Shawn has 10-years experience in wireless and enjoys keeping up on wireless industry newswireless phone services. He also likes to trouble-shoot various cell phone problems. and


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