The CEO who fixes things herself

It all started when I returned from the UK after 2 months in mid August. I had unlocked my AT&T Blackberry Curve and while in England used a T-Mobile SIM card. Everything had gone as planned – I could send and receive email, make calls, without being charged exhorbitant prices for using my phone overseas.

On my return to the US, AT&T did not switch my data plan back on, as had been prearranged. It took two or three days of phone calls to get the plan switched back on. Once the data plan was reactivated, service books had to be resent, email addresses had to be reconfigured. It was not as easy as it should have been. But at least I was once again receiving emails to my phone. Actually, I was receiving a lot of emails. Twice as many as I should have, to be exact.

If you’re a Blackberry user, you’ll understand that for every Inbox on your device you get your messages in the Inbox, and they also show in your Messages folder. When you delete a message from an Inbox, it is automatically deleted from the Messages folder, as it is the same email, just one folder is an Inbox, the other is a consolidated folder that shows all messages – emails, SMS, BIM, missed calls etc. I like this folder in theory – I have 3 Inboxes on my device and with the Messages folder I can  scan all of them first thing in the morning before carpool and take care of anything urgent. But when everything is showing up twice, well, you can’t just scan 200 messages the way you would 100.  Not to mention the pressure on memory, because it’s fine to delete mail from my Inboxes, but what a nuisance to have to also go into the Messages folder and delete things separately! So every two or three days, usually while waiting in carpool line, I went into my Messages folder and deleted the excess emails. Which was a problem in itself sometimes, as occasionally new mail had shown up in the meantime and accidentally got deleted.

I’m not one to immediately dial 911. I prefer to troubleshoot myself first. Yeah, I know, not too many CEOs who do that, but I’m special. So I tried everything that I could thing of. I checked settings, changed the folder from “separate” to “combined” and back again. I deleted my email service books and resent them. I deleted my email accounts and set them up again. I uninstalled the Facebook for Blackberry application, along with my email accounts, reconfigured the email accounts and then reinstalled Facebook. All to no avail.

6 weeks into the mess I gave up and called AT&T support. The original customer service agent that I spoke with must have thought I was stupid. She clearly did not understand what the issue was, despite my going to great lengths to explain that no, I was not receiving duplicate emails in my Inbox, and no, this was not an issue with my email server, but a Blackberry issue. Yes, I had already resent service books a number of times. Yes, I had tried resetting all my email accounts, and yes, I was sure that I was only getting duplicate emails in my Messages folder, and never when I replicated mail on my PC, either in Lotus Notes, or in Gmail. Eventually I exasperated her enough that she put me through to a supervisor. Who just was as helpless. After an hour on the phone I arranged for a callback, as I had a child to pick up from preschool.

The callback came at 8pm that night. Once again I went through the explanation of what was going on. I answered questions about my email host (Gmail), how long this had been going on etc. After almost an  hour on the phone with no possible solution in sight, the AT&T tech finally agreed to put me through to RIM support. I spent another 1.5 hours on the phone with a very nice guy from RIM, but he was unable to solve my problem either. In fact, the only thing I managed to accomplish in that call was to get him to actually believe that there were two separate emails coming into my Messages folder. We were finally able to establish that when he looked for RFID on each message. The other thing was that the message going to the Messages folder was “received using: Unknown” as opposed to the one in the Inbox which was received using the correct email address. It was 10:30pm at that point, so he promised to look into it further and get back to me. I went to bed.

The next morning at the office I decided to find out for myself what was going on. I had a little more information than I had previously. I turned to everyone’s best Internet buddy – Google.  I had googled “duplicate messages” before and come up with no answers.  So this time I googled “message received using: Unknown” and bingo!

As it turns out, the issue of duplicate mail when the host is Gmail, and the user has been out of the USA and used a foreign SIM card is not unknown! And the fix? Simple! Delete service books from the Blackberry device. Turn off your phone and remove battery. Log into Gmail, change the password on your email. Log into your BIS account, change the password there too. Resend service books. Put the battery back into your device and wait for it to boot up. No more duplicates!

Within an hour of fixing the problem I received an email from RIM asking if they need to keep my ticket open. No solution to the problem, just wondering if I still needed their help. I replied to the email, and gave details on how to fix this problem, in the event that some other poor user called them in the future with the same issue. But it did make me extra frustrated to know how simple the fix was, and that none of the 4 people that I spoke to, the supposed “helpdesk” staff, at AT&T and RIM were able to come up with it.

The whole experience has left me pleased that I can fix things myself, despite not being a geek, but also annoyed that the real geeks were unable to fix it for me. It also left me wondering whether an iPhone is better? And I’d love some opinions on that one. If you’ve had both a Blackberry (especially the Curve) and an iPhone, which do you prefer? From what I understand, if you have multiple email inboxes on your phone, the iPhone is a nuisance. Can you sync the iPhone calendar with Lotus Notes? Or with anything? The answers to these questions are key, so I’d love to hear from you.

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Tnelson
    Sep 30, 2009 @ 21:59:12

    Your site was extremely interesting, especially since I was searching for thoughts on this subject last Thursday.


  2. JimmyBean
    Oct 01, 2009 @ 08:13:07

    I don’t know If I said it already but …Excellent site, keep up the good work. I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say I’m glad I found your blog. Thanks, 🙂

    A definite great read..Jim Bean


  3. Naren
    Jun 21, 2012 @ 01:12:22

    You are awesome! I just can’t believe that one can explain a typical problem in such an interesting way. I am impressed. Well, I am going through the same challenge and will give it a shot as you have mentioned. My second thought now, I should go for a iPhone!


  4. Anonymous
    Sep 03, 2012 @ 07:42:08

    I am having the same problem. Though, mine occurred when I was leaving the US and arrived here in Tanzania. Ever since arriving and putting in local sim, ive been getting doubles of gmail msgs. Awesome post (even more so if it resolves my issue!). Great stuff!


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