In May, I began having issues with text messaging so after trying to resolve the issue myself, my husband did a backup of my phone and we headed to the TMobile store. The associate hadn't seen that issue before and wasn't sure what to try but decided first to do a SIM swap. I wouldn't know if that would fix the issue until I sent a few texts and waited for responses so we left the store. Before I even got to the car, I opened my voice mail and noticed something was different. What was different? Why did it look different? Oh yeah. All of my saved VMs were gone. Vanished. I ran back to the store trying not to have a panic attack. I asked the associate what happened and explained my concern. "My dad died in April, too," he said. "I understand your panic." He dialed into my VM but the messages weren't there. He told me I could try calling tech support or doing a system reboot. My husband did the reboot when we got home. No messages. I called tech support and he said casually that they would probably show up overnight. Mkay.
They didn't. Not the next day either. Nor the next day. I called tech support again and was told that there would be no way to recover them. Against my will, I sobbed on the phone with the technician. They say there are five stages of grief. I was entrenched in denial. I would not accept that my dad's messages to me were gone forever, that I could never again hear him say "Hi Pam, it's your Dad. I was just calling to check in on you and see how you were doing. Give me a call back. Love you."
No, I didn't accept that.
A friend of mine who works as an attorney for a large domain registrar advised me to pursue it with legal action...either the threat of legal action or a strongly worded letter from an attorney. I decided that would be a last resort but I would try Twitter first.
I did hear back from them but after a few exchanges, I got the same response. They're sorry. There's nothing they can do. Apparently that was enough to push me to stage 2, anger. My husband said that the CEO of T-Mobile, John Legere, is famously a Twitter a user, (as in he steps in it sometimes.)
Within an hour, the Executive Vice President was calling me. He was entirely apologetic and understanding. He listened as I explained all of the issues I'd been having that got to that point. He was hopeful they could recover the messages for me. I became hopeful, though my hope was tempered with the fact that he was a "business" man, not a tech.
Shortly after we hung up, one of those "top engineers" called me. He got all of the details but also explained the reality of the situation.
- Sometimes when a SIM swap is performed, the voice mails are zapped. (Hindsight: I wish the store associate had informed me of this).
- Saved messages are stored on the phone only, not on their servers. Messages on their servers are purged every 30 days (these messages were 3 months old).
- There are ways to back up saved voice mails by storing them on a drive or emailing them to yourself. (Hindsight: I wish I had done this. The knowledge did me no good at this point but I include it for others who may be thinking about how to back up these types of memories).
The communication between the engineer and me went on for days. He worked with the engineers at Apple to see if there was a possibility of recovering them through iTunes or via previous back ups. Conclusion: Apple says backups do not include voice mails.
While I waver back and forth between depression and acceptance, I'm finding myself more in the stage of acceptance. The outcome for the VMs is no different than it was before I sent that tweet. What has changed, though, is that I am now at peace with the fact that I wasn't just fed a "sorry, there's nothing we can do line." Thousands of dollars of man hours were put into preserving those VMs. I feel their efforts were strong and genuin
1) My dad raised me to be the blue-blooded liberal I am. I disagree with the Supreme Court's notion that corporations are people. No, it is the people who run the corporation who humanize it. John Legere and the Executive VP David Carey give T-Mobile a huge heart. I would also like to thank Travis Maas, the engineer, who put in all those man hours.
2) Videos of your loved ones are not the same as voice mails. I do have videos of my dad and I will back them up. Those messages directly to you, though, need to be saved and backed up. You may not need to think about this for years but you'll be glad you have them.
3) Twitter is a powerful, powerful tool. I do not feel like my voice was really heard until I sent that first Tweet. Also through Twitter, I know what discussions my state legislators are having about teacher salaries, as they're happening. I get to be a part of the conversation through my tweets.
4) Jimmy Fallon followed me this week. Okay this has nothing to do with anything but it happened. See?
5) T-Mobile says that they are using this experience to make their service and technology better so that others won't find themselves in this situation. I take them at their word.
Not convinced yet? Just google "power of Twitter" to read other stories, like mine, of people who effected change through a single tweet. If you want to follow me, my @librarylilley Twitter handle is my librarian handle (no politics). I will also be Tweeting this school year for the CMS Virtual Learning and Media Services department as @CMS_VLMS.
Eugene Howard Lilley
(June 19, 1945 - April 18, 2014)