Use your product before selling it. Please!

Verizon’s IOBI service sounds nice: manage your phones from your web browser. It’s kind of cool. But they screwed up royally. The product likely cost tens if not hundreds of millions to roll out, and it’s clear no one bothered to try using it.

IOBI lets you change your call forwarding, call blocking, etc. remotely. How? You call a phone number and speak your commands. Sounds pretty sensible, eh? Very 21st century.

Too bad they clearly never tested it. IOBI has two show-stopping problems. First, you can register up to 3 phones allowed to call in to the 800 number to change forwarding. Again, sounds reasonable. I registered my cell phone, home phone, and work phone. But wait! I was traveling and lost my cell phone. Now, I’m totally unable to reforward my phones to the house where I’m staying, since I can only change my forwarding from a pre-approved phone. Why not just let me enter a PIN or password, like I can with every other service in the world? (And even if I call from an approved phone, they require a PIN, so it’s not like they don’t have the capability!)

To make matters worse, the system is only voice activated. Let’s see, a remote forwarding service. Where are people likely to use it from? Their cell phones. While walking down the street. With traffic, wind, and random noise in the background, not to mention a poor connection. I’ve found IOBI is utterly useless from a cell phone. Even when quiet, it often can’t understand me.

I’m amazed that these flaws—which are really show-stoppers—didn’t come up in user testing. It’s a nice service that just doesn’t work except under perfect conditions.

The icing on the customer service cake is that Verizon used to offer a touch-tone activated remote call forwarding that could be called from any phone. I used it for years and was quite happy. But that’s now a discontinued product, so my “trial” of IOBI eliminated any possibility of resuming my reliable, working service.

Chalk one up to progress.

Wish Verizon IOBI would get a clue

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