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HEADLINE: To Leave a Message, Please Press #@*&!

Hardware Trouble Hampers Ameritech's Voice Mail System for Thousands for 2 Days

By Stuart A. Hirsch The Indianapolis Star

Last updated 12:56 AM, EST, Thursday, April 13, 2000

A hardware problem that took two days to correct made Ameritech Corp.'s voice mail service clunky and cumbersome for residential and business customers.

An Ameritech spokesman said about 44,000 customers in the 317 area code were affected. Company technicians finally got the system working properly again Wednesday afternoon.

Spokesman Mike Marker said that while voice mail worked during the two-day period, Ameritech customers and people trying to reach them had to enter their complete area code and seven-digit telephone number to retrieve and leave messages.

One Ameritech voice mail customer told The Indianapolis Star the failure was annoying and worrisome.

She said callers were probably confused when, instead of hearing her greeting, they heard a long message asking whether they had voice mail on the system or wanted to leave a message.

Some callers might simply have hung up, thinking they dialed the wrong telephone number.

"I can't expect the people who call to wait to figure this out," she said.

The trouble began late Monday when a data link failed, Marker said. That's a device that tells the voice mail system where a call should go.

Ameritech voice mail customers whose service was interrupted may receive a two-day credit for their inconvenience by calling Ameritech at (800) 742-8771. Marker said customer bills would not automatically be adjusted because "we have no way of knowing which customers were affected."

This wasn't the first service problem for Ameritech's Indianapolis voice mail customers. An error by an Ameritech technician in September left some customers unable to retrieve messages. That problem lasted several days. ) 2000 Indiana Newspapers Inc. AP materials ) 2000 Associated


-- (, April 14, 2000

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