From THE ARIZONA REPUBLIC
Up to a half-million Cox Communications residential telephone customers in Arizona were fuming Wednesday as they endured the eighth consecutive day of a widespread voice-mail service outage.
Reports from media outlets in California and Nevada indicated Cox telephone customers in those states also had been without the ability to leave or retrieve voice-mail messages for at least a week.
Customers still had the ability to make and receive calls as of 3 p.m. Wednesday, but unanswered calls prompted an “experiencing technical difficulties” message from Cox followed by a busy signal, rather than picking up to voice mail.
Cox has more than 2 million cable-TV, Internet and telephone customers in Arizona, including an estimated 1.7 million customers in the Phoenix area.
Company spokeswoman Andrea Katsenes would not disclose how many customers were affected by the extended outage but did say that less than one-fourth of all Cox customers use the company’s residential telephone service.
Still, that could mean as many as 500,000 in Arizona are without voice mail.
Katsenes confirmed that the outage began Feb. 21 and said the company had been working diligently to resolve the problem.
She would not disclose the cause of the outage or what steps were being taken to fix it.
There seemed to be confusion and mixed signals about the voice-mail problem even within the company Wednesday, as customers reported being given incorrect information when calling Cox for help.
Wednesday morning, Cox sent an e-mail to its phone customers stating, “We are glad to inform you that voice mail has now been fully restored.”
However, several calls and e-mails to Cox customers to confirm the company’s announcement made it clear that the voice-mail service continued to be plagued with problems.
Cox telephone customer David Berk of Cave Creek said in an e-mail that he still was unable to retrieve voice-mail messages as of 2 p.m. Wednesday.
Berk said he had tried calling his voice-mail box 10 times and had received a busy signal every time.
“What is the problem?” he said. “Why can’t Cox fix it after a week?”
After informing Katsenes that customers still were having problems, The Republic received an e-mail from her saying, “This situation is fluid, but I promise to keep you up to date as things change.”
“Earlier today we restored voice-mail service,” she said. “Unfortunately, due to unforeseen technical issues, we continue to experience a service disruption.”
Since the outage began, Cox has said affected customers would be given the option of setting up call-forwarding service to another phone number for free. In addition, the company said it would issue automatic bill credits to affected phone customers, reimbursing them for the period in which their voice mail did not function.
The Cox technical support number in the Phoenix area is 623-594-1000, and updates on technical problems can be found at ww2.cox.com/myconnection/community/alert.cox.
Reach the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 602-444-86