BUSINESS

The Akron Beacon Journal Betty Lin-Fisher column

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

Sometimes the best-laid plans don’t work.

Last week, I reported on a new Time Warner Cable digital telephone feature that is designed to help thwart robocalls. It was intended to be a positive and helpful column.

Instead, I got slightly burned.

I had been working for a few months with Time Warner Cable ­— one of the largest phone providers in our area — to get a feature called “Simultaneous Ring.” It would allow customers to connect with a free online service at www.nomorobo.com that screens robocalls and hangs up on them.

The description of the process and other details are online at www.ohio.com/betty and a previous story about Nomorobo is at www.tinyurl.com/nomorobo.

I was assured by Time Warner Cable officials that what was called their new “Answer Anywhere” feature would be available.

It turned out the system wasn’t ready.

Readers emailed and called me and Time Warner Cable saying they did not see the “Answer Anywhere” function listed on the “My Services” area of their online account at www.twc.com.

The short answer about what went wrong? Time Warner Cable has been changing to a different software platform. New digital phone customers in the last year have been on the new system. Last week, that would have made the “Answer Anywhere” function available. But for existing customers, the upgrade wasn’t scheduled for the Akron area.

That information was not communicated to the right people at Time Warner Cable who were talking to me.

I tested the system myself and ran into some technical glitches.

I was unable to see the “Answer Anywhere” function, but Time Warner Cable tech workers updated it. I asked to make sure it was not just my account they were updating.

They assured me the update was for the Akron area, knowing I wouldn’t report on a service not yet available.

But their information was wrong, and there obviously was a big breakdown of communication.

“It’s not your fault, it was a miscommunication,” said Time Warner Cable spokesman Mike Hogan.

He believed the whole system was upgraded.

“We’re sorry for any confusion this announcement may have caused and we’re doing everything possible to help customers know how they can get this feature,” he said.

It appears I was the only media member interested in the “Answer Anywhere” function. In order for the Nomorobo free service to work, customers need the “Simultaneous Ring” or in Time Warner’s case, “Answer Anywhere” to be in operation.

Had I known Time Warner Cable needed more time, I would not have written the column.

John Higgins Jr., the vice president of operations for Time Warner Cable for its Northeast Ohio/Western Pennsylvania region, said: “We are sorry for any confusion customers may have experienced while trying to add the Answer Anywhere feature. We are working to resolve any issues and are certain customers will like this new enhancement to their service.”

The company says it is expediting the software upgrade. On your computer, log on to the “My Services” tab and go under your “Digital Phone” for Time Warner. Look for “Answer Anywhere” under the “Call Forwarding” section. The company is not certain when everyone will be upgraded.

There have been other issues, however. Somehow the caller ID information that is simultaneously forwarded to Nomorobo’s database is showing the wrong phone number in some cases. That means Nomorobo does not hang up on the calls.

Aaron Foss, Nomorobo developer, said when he looked at my phone number account, it was working fine and then sometime last week, the mixup happened. Though I am still getting phone calls, for some reason the data being sent to Nomorobo at the same time is not showing the phone number calling into my home, but my own number. Obviously I’m not a robocaller.

So until Time Warner Cable officials can fix that, it has rendered the Nomorobo service useless.

Foss and I heard of readers saying their calls all seem to have been blocked.

We are unsure whether this is related to the other Time Warner Cable problems or if customers accidentally activated the wrong phone feature.

After the upgrade, make sure you turn on the “Answer Anywhere” feature, not “Forward All My Calls,” which right now appears in blue on the website.

I’ve asked Time Warner Cable officials to change that since it’s a natural inclination for people to click on. By doing so, they’re forwarding all calls to Nomorobo and inadvertently blocking all calls.

Also, one reader noted that after a system upgrade, you will lose any voice mails you have saved on the old system.

The “Answer Anywhere” function, which gives people the option of a phone call ringing at up to five numbers, does appear to be working. It’s just not working for everyone with Nomorobo, and it appears to be Time Warner Cable’s issue.

Foss said he has not had issues with other phone provider launches of the “Simultaneous Ring” feature.

He suggests people turn off the “Answer Anywhere” to Nomorobo’s phone number to avoid missing calls.

Foss said he will email all registered Time Warner Cable users of Nomorobo when the problem is fixed.

Betty Lin-Fisher can be reached at 330-996-3724 or blinfisher@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/blinfisher and see all her stories at www.ohio.com/betty

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©2013 the Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)

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