What to do if you can't hear or be heard when making (or receiving) a call

Do these scenarios sound familiar? You make a call. Then, either you can't hear the person you called, or they can't hear you. Or, maybe the same problem happens when someone calls you.

To fix the problem, isolate the cause. Is your phone equipment damaged, or is there something wrong with your phone service?  Does the problem happen on ALL calls from ALL phones? Maybe it only occurs during certain calls, certain times of day or even specific numbers.

Start with the basics

Start by examining your phone equipment. Damaged phones, cords and jacks can cause unpredictable reception problems.

If the problem doesn't happen all the time, is it isolated to specific numbers or certain calls? For instance, do you only experience it when you make long distance calls?

If the problem impacts ALL calls, maybe you can't hear or be heard because there's too much noise on your line. If so, you can get rid of annoying noise on your line.

Look for simple fixes

These topics are covered in the phone equipment article in more detail, but since they're common causes for this service issue, we want to draw your attention to them.

  • Most phones have adjustable volume controls. If you pick up the receiver and can't hear anyone talking, check (and increase) the volume. (Note: If people at a particular number keep commenting that they can't hear you, have them check their speaker volume.)
  • If you have a cordless phone, the batteries could be weak and need a charge. Swap them for some fresh ones and see if that solves the problem.
  • If the problem only happens with one phone, try plugging a different phone into that phone's jack. Next, place a call from the new phone to see if the issue is resolved.
  • How many things do you have plugged into your phone jacks? Each line can only support so much. Unplug all your equipment and then plug in each device one by one. When the problem shows up again, you know you've reached the maximum load capacity for your phone line.