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What to do when you cannot hear a person on the phone
Old 03-01-2018, 06:49 PM   #1
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What to do when you cannot hear a person on the phone

I had a very important telephone call today with Social Security and the person on the other end had such a low soft voice I could not understand them. I explained my problem and the other person said she was talking as loud as she could. Thinking it was the connection I hung up and reinitiated the call but that did not help. My husband also tried to talk to the person but he could not hear her either. I had to ask the person to repeat every sentence but I still do not think I understood (my understanding of what she said to me does not make sense). I do not think it is my hearing or phone because I normally hear fine on the phone.

I asked the SS person to have her supervisor call me back but that has not happened and I doubt it will.

What do people do when they simply cannot hear a person on the phone because the person does not speak loudly enough? Very frustrating and it was an important call too.
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Old 03-01-2018, 06:58 PM   #2
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Might want to get a volume controlled handset if this happens from time to time.
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Old 03-01-2018, 07:22 PM   #3
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Does your phone have a speakerphone option?
I use that when the volume seems too low and it always helps a lot.
Typically there is a button to switch to speaker - I have it on both my cellphone and my regular (Ooma) landline.
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Old 03-01-2018, 08:37 PM   #4
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Might want to get a volume controlled handset if this happens from time to time.
I was away from home on my cell phone
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Old 03-01-2018, 08:42 PM   #5
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Does your phone have a speakerphone option?
I use that when the volume seems too low and it always helps a lot.
Typically there is a button to switch to speaker - I have it on both my cellphone and my regular (Ooma) landline.
Yes, tried my speakerphone, I think it made it worse. i also tried moving locations for better reception. I think the person on the other line was on a speaker phone, too far away from the speaker and a very soft voice.

I will try to call back tomorrow and try to get a supervisor or someone else.

The irritating thing was that I kept asking the other party to speak louder, move closer, not use speaker phone, etc, but they would not. A Social security employee.
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Old 03-01-2018, 08:53 PM   #6
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Do you have a landline you can use instead? I find the clarity of a landline phone much better than that of most cell connections, and clarity can help make up for low volume.
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Old 03-01-2018, 08:56 PM   #7
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What?
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Old 03-01-2018, 10:52 PM   #8
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I sympathize! I am hard of hearing and I experience the same problem. In fact, I resigned from a board which met by teleconference because I could not follow the conversation.

Here’s what I’ve done to address the problem:
1. Had my hearing tested, badly needed hearing aids. I get them recalibrated every year as my hearing continues to get worse, particularly in the upper frequencies. I find it most difficult to decipher high patched female voices.
2. Clean my hearing aids and my ears regularly.
3. Only make such calls at home from my landline if at all possible. Ensure there is no background noise.
4. Use the speakerphone. This makes a big difference. I have a wireless headset, but the speakerphone is better.
5. Ask the person on the other end to speak directly into the receiver and read back all important details (which you did).
6. Communicate by email whenever possible.
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Old 03-02-2018, 03:24 AM   #9
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It sounds like you are pretty sure that the problem was at the SS office end of the call. There's a good chance that the employee was using headset rather than a conventional phone, and a good chance that it wasn't adjusted right (mic too far from the mouth, etc).

I think you are doing all you can do by notifying the supervisor and having another try at getting the information you need. A "for profit" entity would probably care a lot that you got poor service (and that an employee wasted valuable company time by not using the equipment properly). But we are talking about a SS office here, so things might be different.
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Old 03-02-2018, 06:03 AM   #10
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DH had a hearing problem- made worse by the fact that his hearing was worse at high frequencies. It made it harder for him to hear women's voices than a deep male voice. If she had an accent, spoke quickly, or both, it was even worse. He'd just apologize, blame it on his hearing problem and ask to speak to someone else because he couldn't hear her. I got into the habit of hovering nearby when he ordered at restaurants because frequently I'd have to repeat what the waitress said.
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Old 03-02-2018, 06:07 AM   #11
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Many people simply do not know how to talk on the phone, so they are either too loud or too soft. There is nothing you can do at your end to correct a lifetime of poor speech habits.

Actually, I have more trouble understanding sing-song voices than I do soft ones. The sing-song inflection is very common in customer service these days, probably because many of the C.S. centers aren't in the U.S. This is not to say those people don't speak good English - they do - and besides, I really respect bilingual people. But when the inflections are not what I'm used to hearing, I can lose a lot of the initial conversation while my brain is adjusting to the inflections.
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Old 03-02-2018, 06:31 AM   #12
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If this is the only occurrence of “hard to hear” and it happens with someone working as a phone rep, one likely cause is the rep is using an underpowered headset. She is not aware her voice is not adequately amplified. If she doesn’t change headsets, you may need to change reps.
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Old 03-02-2018, 12:02 PM   #13
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OP here, Dealing with Social Security has been a nightmare. I call and leave messages, have to take the call whenever I get it, weeks later, so end up on cell phone with someone who does not speak loud enough to hear. I ask to speak to someone else, never hear back. The only help I ever get is visiting the local office in person, but it is a long drive and I have to wait hours to see someone, no appointments available. In my experience SS is awful to deal with. I am dealing with SS identity theft, someone has been getting my payments and I have not been able to get it resolved.
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Old 03-02-2018, 01:20 PM   #14
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I asked the SS person to have her supervisor call me back but that has not happened and I doubt it will.
Why the doubt?

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What do people do when they simply cannot hear a person on the phone because the person does not speak loudly enough?
I ask to talk to someone else who can speak more clearly and loudly. If that's not possible I hang up. Perhaps I can talk with them in person, perhaps not.

In your case, I would ask to speak with someone else at SS. Or I would initiate the call and ask for the supervisor. I would explain the problem and see if they could call from a different office or a different location within the office.

And if it was important enough, I would go to my local SS office and have he conversation in person.

(In all of this, I'm assuming your phone is fine, your hearing is fine, and the problem is on the SS end of the call.)
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Old 03-02-2018, 02:01 PM   #15
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OP, have you tried writing the SS Administration about your concerns? I realize letters take longer and are not as convenient, but at least you have a record of what you told them. Just a thought.
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Old 03-03-2018, 12:30 PM   #16
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OP here, I have asked to speak to someone else at SS or a SS supervisor before and I never get a call back. When I could not hear the SS person on Thursday, I asked to speak to a supervisor, was promised a call back from a supervisor on Friday, never got the call. Asked for the number of the supervisor and was told I could not have it, the supervisor would have to call me which did not happen.
I have been several times to the local SS office. They tell me I will have to talk to someone at the fraud headquarters and that person will call me. That is the call I finally got Thursday after weeks of waiting and then I could not hear the person. SS will not let you call them (cannot get a direct number), you have to wait for a call from them. You are at their mercy...
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Old 03-03-2018, 12:35 PM   #17
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OP, have you tried writing the SS Administration about your concerns? I realize letters take longer and are not as convenient, but at least you have a record of what you told them. Just a thought.
Yes, i have written SS, filed an appeal and a fraud affidavit. The call on Thursday when I could not hear the person on the other end was the result of the fraud affidavit. I had been waiting on that call for weeks, very frustrating!

I have now contacted my Congressman for help and so far the Congressman's office has not gotten a call back from Social Security either!
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Old 03-03-2018, 12:44 PM   #18
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You are at their mercy...
Not always. At this point your are probably justified in calling your local congresscritter's office and tell them the story. They have a staff with a Rolodex (or whatever is used now) of phone numbers of people in SS, VA, etc. who will

a. Answer the phone
b. Know what they're talking about
c. (Aparently) Actually care about the outcome

Several years ago dealing with FIL's veterans issues we were having a very difficult time reaching anyone at the VA, endless menu loops and the like. A phone call to Shelley Capito's office resulted in a quick resolution. We also received a follow-up call from her office to make sure the issues had been resolved.

Congresscritters are occasionally useful. At least that was our result.
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Old 03-03-2018, 12:54 PM   #19
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Not always. At this point your are probably justified in calling your local congresscritter's office and tell them the story. They have a staff with a Rolodex (or whatever is used now) of phone numbers of people in SS, VA, etc. who will

a. Answer the phone
b. Know what they're talking about
c. (Aparently) Actually care about the outcome

Several years ago dealing with FIL's veterans issues we were having a very difficult time reaching anyone at the VA, endless menu loops and the like. A phone call to Shelley Capito's office resulted in a quick resolution. We also received a follow-up call from her office to make sure the issues had been resolved.

Congresscritters are occasionally useful. At least that was our result.
Yes, I have recently called my Congressman's office. So far the person they need to talk to at SS has not called them back either... The Congressman's office says they are also having difficulty getting in touch with anyone at SS.
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