Fix problems with specific phone numbers (or certain calls)

If you can't dial out, start by figuring out if the problem is isolated to specific numbers or certain types of calls.

Happens with specific numbers/certain calls

Call from a different phone 

If you call from a different phone -- like your work, a cell or a neighbor's house -- and are still unable to get through, the problem is with the number itself. You may need to find an alternate way to reach the person.

Call at a different time

If you have you successfully called this number from your phone in the past, try it again later. If still don't get through, the number probably is no longer in service, and you need to find an alternate way to reach the person.

Dial the number differently

If the problem only happens when you call certain numbers, maybe you're not dialing enough numbers (or maybe too many) when you place the call.

For instance, if you only use 7 digits and the phone equipment is expecting 11, your call won't go through. The simplest solution is try one of the patterns you haven't dialed yet:

  • 7-digit (XXX-XXXX) -- phone number
  • 10-digit (XXX-XXX-XXXX) -- area code plus phone number
  • 11-digit (1-XXX-XXX-XXXX) -- 1 , area code and phone number

If you're calling internationally, dial 011 + country code + city code (where applicable) + telephone number. If you're calling Canada, there's no need to dial 011, the country code or a city code. For our neighbors to the north, you only need to dial 1 + 10-digit telephone number.

Note: Sometimes if you dial wrong, you will hear a recorded message. If you get a message, do as instructed.

Change your phone settings

If you can successfully call most numbers but can't get numbers associated with automated-help lines to recognize your entries, your phone probably needs to be changed from PULSE to TONE.

Many phones have a physical P/T switch located on the side, bottom or back of the unit. If you don't see a physical switch, get the phone's setup menu and look for the P/T settings.

Modify the calling instructions

To activate/deactivate many calling features (e.g., caller ID, voice mail, call waiting), you need to enter a star (*) and a code. If you're using a rotary phone, that's a problem because there's no star key on most rotary phones. In that case, dial 11 instead of the star so *60 becomes 1160.

From here, if you're specifically having problems with local calls, read "Things to check when you can't call locally" for what to do next. On the other hand, if you're having problems only calling long distance, read "What to do if you can't make a long-distance call."

Happens with ALL numbers/calls