Verizon message service cut off

Times Staff Writer

Couldn’t get to your voice mail at home or work Wednesday or Thursday -- or leave a message on some phones?

Neither could any other California customers with voice mail on their Verizon Communications Inc. land lines.

A database error in a central server in Ontario froze the software for all 740,000 land-line customers subscribing to Verizon’s voice mail early Wednesday, and the state’s second-largest telephone company couldn’t say late Thursday when the problem would be fixed.


“Unfortunately, it’s a huge file and it’s taking a long time,” said Verizon spokesman Jonathan Davies. “All our resources are deployed, and we’ll have it back up as soon as possible.”

Most of Verizon’s 3 million land-line customers are in Southern California’s affluent beach communities and the Inland Empire. The outage did not affect Verizon Wireless customers.

The problem prevents customers from being able to access their voice mail and callers from being able to leave messages. Calls made to affected phone lines would simply ring unless someone picked up, Davies said.

Besides the lack of voice mail for two days, customers also lost all unchecked or saved voice mail Tuesday from the time the system was last backed up at the start of the day, Davies said. Verizon is tapping its backup server to restore customers’ voice mails and profiles from before Tuesday.

For customers such as David Kearney, whose home line and three business lines were affected, the outage translated into financial losses.

“It’s a big inconvenience and I figure I’m losing important calls, especially at my office,” said Kearney, who owns a Santa Monica acupuncture clinic and estimated that he was losing about $100 in potential business from each missed call.

“I’m intending to change my carrier,” he said. “I’m just frustrated.”

Vanda Hembree, a property manager for about 30 condominium complexes in Santa Monica and West Los Angeles, said all of the management firm’s dozen or so phone lines were affected, leaving homeowners upset that they couldn’t get through.

“It made us look like we were nonresponsive, which is never good,” said Hembree, who gave her cellphone number to board members at each complex Thursday morning. “Trying to conduct day-to-day business and keep our customers happy . . . is a challenge.”

In 2005, at least 150,000 customers over a large swath of Southern California lost their phone and Internet service for as much as 12 hours because of a computer glitch at a Verizon central switching plant in Long Beach.

That outage, which also cut off 911 service from many land lines, struck communities from Hermosa Beach to Newport Beach along the coast and as far inland as Whittier and Garden Grove. Some cellphone service was also lost, though on a more limited basis.