Rant: The hell that is iOS 7 Visual Voicemail on AT&T

Rant: The hell that is iOS 7 Visual Voicemail on AT&T Visual Voicemail and iOS 7 don't play nicely together, at least not on AT&T. Complaints about it are all over the internet, and I've been suffering with it since September. So, I decided to do some digging. After researching online and wasting time on the phone with AT&T, I've realized how much of a breakdown in communication there is between phone makers and the carriers.

The first problem, which started almost immediately after iOS 7 came out (but not so immediately that I could blame it as the sole culprit), left me unable to delete voicemail messages from Visual Voicemail. I tried several things to remedy the issue on my own, from resetting network settings to trying to trick Visual Voicemail by deleting the voicemails while in Airplane Mode. No matter what I did, eventually they all came back. So, I tried calling into AT&T's voicemail system and deleting the messages that way. Then I reset network settings again and rebooted my iPhone. The result? Still there. Every last one of them. Next, I popped my SIM card into another iPhone 5s that was restored to factory defaults. All the voicemails popped right up. I couldn't delete them from that iPhone either. I replaced it with another SIM and the issue disappeared on both phones. This ruled out the problem being device related and also proved that it happens on a case-by-case basis that is in no way tied to a specific iPhone, at least on AT&T.

I called AT&T in order to see if they could resolve the issue, or at least if they knew what was going on. That one call turned into many calls to AT&T. Fast forward through about three voicemail resets, deleting VVM altogether from the account, and about 10 iPhone reboots, and I was right back where I started. AT&T had no answers for me. They claimed none of the messages were actually on their server. Since I could still play them back, however, they had to be somewhere.

The second problem started a few weeks later. I stopped being able to record a greeting. The Phone app either crashed or would cut out mid-stream. It took almost an hour of frustration to get one to fully record, or so I thought. Little did I know it was still cutting the recording off. Apparently, according to callers, even though the full greeting played back for me, it was actually using a cut off earlier version that I never even saved.

Something broke with iOS 7 and AT&T has yet to submit a carrier update to Apple in order to fix it.

So, I asked some Apple employees what was going on. Most of them seemed familiar with the issue and the general consensus was that AT&T is mishandling the communication to the Visual Voicemail service. Something broke with iOS 7 and AT&T has yet to submit a carrier update to Apple in order to fix it. I don't pretend to know how carrier updates work or who's in charge of those, but based on what I've experienced, this makes sense to me.

A quick internet search told me that AT&T alone activates well over five million iPhones each quarter (conservative count). We also know that iOS 7's adoption rate was at 78% at the end of the year. That makes it highly likely that there are a ton of AT&T iPhones on the market running iOS 7. And they're not getting proper support for a feature that launched in 2007 with iOS 1. (iPhone OS 1.0.)

The maddening thing is this: If Visual Voicemail really is jacked because of AT&T and iOS 7, we're just going to have to wait for AT&T to push out a carrier update to fix it. And if you're having the same problem on your carrier, guess what? You're going to have to wait for them to update as well. iOS 7 came out almost four months ago. Four. Months. Complaints have been constant since then. What possible excuse could they have for not pushing out an update already?

If you're having a problem with Visual Voicemail on iOS 7, know that you're not alone, and let me know all about it in the comments!

Have you had issues with Visual Voicemail and iOS 7 on your carrier? If so let us know what you've experienced and whether or not it ever got resolved by either Apple or your carrier.

Have something to say about this story? Share your comments below! Need help with something else? Submit your question!

Allyson Kazmucha

Senior editor for iMore. I can take apart an iPhone in less than 6 minutes. I also like coffee and Harry Potter more than anyone really should.

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Rant: The hell that is iOS 7 Visual Voicemail on AT&T

87 Comments

Happened to me too and I have AT&T . Here's how I finally got them off. Play each message and fast forward to the end of the message. Then delete. Apparently if you do not listen to the message, iOS 7 will not let you delete it.

Call your voicemail and then it will play the last message you had received. When it is finished it will give you a list of things you can do press zero for more options. Next again it will give you a list if things press the * button. The next number to push will be 4 and finally 3 for personal greetings options. From there you can record a personal message or use a standard one where it say the number "blah blah " can't be reached. I hope this helps!

Interestingly enough, I saw many complaints from Verizon customers too. Found this in about 5 seconds on a google search:

https://community.verizonwireless.com/thread/805865

I just can't really comment on Verizon since I don't use it.

Hey Ally, I read through most of the comments in that thread and it looks like Verizon had a similar issue but maybe got it solved. I didn't see many comments after October and nothing after December 9th. Maybe Verizon solved it on their end? LMAO, If they did, think they'll share that info with AT&T?

They may have. I didn't look too far into it with Verizon as I don't have anything to compare it to. From what I saw it looked like their issues were predominantly with the iPhone 4/4s, which is weird.

That is perplexing. Does AT&T have a forum like the verizon one you posted? If so have the tech support folks monitoring it been at least apologetic about the problem at all?

Well some customers have zero issue. It doesn't effect everyone but it does effect a substantial amount of people from what I can see and read online.

I'm one of those customers who never has an issue. It could be that I don't delete messages right away. A lot of time I get the message my voicemail is almost full before I start deleting messages.

I have the same issue. I have gotten around it by not deleting all messages. Just a few at a time and leave a couple in there at all times. Crazy!

Apple does notify carriers and developers when they push a new iOS out. It's not up to apple at that point to babysit and make sure they do their part. I am on AT&T and luckily haven't had this issue but have heard numerous complaint about this issue.

This has been a problem before iOS7. I've had the problem of not being able to permanently delete messages since iOS5 on my AT&T iphone. However, i am able to delete them after several attempts and this is still the case.

Mine always pop back up. I've had the random delete issue you're describing for a while too but persistence always paid off. Not anymore. They always come back after iOS 7.

I have not noticed this issue. Testing now.

Allyson, after you delete voice mail from your iPhone how much time passes before they reappear? Was it random?

I had the exact same issue....bought 5s on launch, it drove me up the wall for a month. Like you, I spent hours on the phone w/AT&T. The last conversation in early November included a tier 2 support rep @ Apple....two hours later, no fix. We tried everything we could find online and nothing worked (airplane mode, network reset, VM reset, VVM reset...no dice. I've owned every iPhone and NEVER had the issue. Last week I set up a genius appt for a frayed power cord on my rMBP. It's got AppCare so replacement was immediate. I asked if he had a couple minutes to check my phone and the voice mail issue. He saw the issue, pulled a 5c out...put my SIM card in and I'll be!! Worked as advertised;)
He went to the back. Grabbed a brand new 5s. Put my SIM in....and 11 days later, I've no issues. The 5 I had upgraded from went to my wife and she wasn't getting my voicemail, etc so I eliminated that from being the issue. That's what keeps me coming back. Unbelievable customer service. It's a swing for the fence but it worked for me! Give it a shot if you've got a local Apple store. I've seen other carrier posts with the same issue, but it seems significantly less prevelant. I typed a post on MacRumors and had one respondee telling me the same. Airplane mode. Delete. Turn on....like you, they'd randomly pop back up. Weird though....a massive Apple enthusiast/iOS enthusiast site like MR without a LONG string of 'me too' responses....I'm not so sure it IS on AT&T's side.
Anyway....that was the cure on my end. I know the frustration and wish you luck Allyson, because indeed it's a PITA! ( as well, I had the same 'personal greeting' challenges).
Jer

I'm sorry---should've clarified, we did it with AT&T, on the phone---with an immediate deactivation of my 'current/faulty phone' SIM, --after deactivating first my actual voicemail # from the server, thus erasing all messages, but I had written down my important information a while back....then VMM option turned 'off' on my contract/line....I have a business plan with about a dozen 'lines' including iPads, etc---so they took their time verifying each number, making sure nothing else was allowing acceptance of my VMM from existing number.....Apple Store provides new phone, new SIM card, activates over the line with AT&T, they bring my voice mail back on line....I call in, set up PIN, personal options, et al....they turn VMM on, wait...30 seconds, nothing...2 minutes. Nothing. Genius goes to another client to help while I keep an eye on it, 12 minutes later he returns....but the voice mails don't. I tell him I'm going to shop in the mall for an hour or two, as my wife and I will be heading from there to lunch in the food court.....if it happens, they return, I'll be back. We'll know it's not 'device specific'. Mine was. But it MIGHT have been cured with a new SIM in the old phone doing the same process.
That said---I'd done every step and measure you had....including having VMM shut off for 24 and 48 hours on different occasions. Neither worked.
IMO----if you look @ MacRumors, again an extremely active iPhone forum, I literally had one or two responses. It's NOT a 'huge' problem...as I've been on the phone multiple times with Apple, AT&T----and the Genius, ALL were recognizing and seeing the issue for the first time. They expedited the phone to Cupertino for testing directly with AT&T....so Hopefully, with 7.1's release, it'll be fixed for you....maybe they were ALL BS'ing me, but again....searching through MR's forums, it's not uncommon for simple iOS/iPhone/iAnything flaws to become 30 page, 800 response, 25,000 view threads ;) ----as I'm sure you're well aware! As I buy iPad after iPad, I've yet to see these 'display' anomalies so prevalent ..... again, ONLY on MR!
Good Luck---I should've been more specific, but if you go to Apple----the 5c was the one that worked for us....he made sure before opening a new phone, all avenues were checked.
BTW----This happened late last week----I, too, was living with it forever...I'd honestly given up...because after enough times erasing the damn things, they'd be 'gone'. No rhyme or reason, landline, iPhone, Android.....maybe even a pay phone voice mail (do they still exist? :))....I wasn't able to narrow it down to any single, repeatable instance either.
We (were) in the same boat---my lifeboat (Apple Store/Genius/AT&T) really DID inflate! Give yours a try! It just might work:)
Good Luck, and I'm sorry as it really is a PITA, I run my own company and it's embarrassing missing or losing or unable to save/organize important voice mails. It's been 6 days, and I'm voicemail FREE!!! Never thought I'd be so happy---and I agree, we've had this feature (that as a Note 3 owner KILLS me isn't made 'stock' in Android or with AT&T) since iOS 1.0. Having it 'broken' was painful....but it's a baby (iOS 7), a ground up re-write, and I'm excited the direction their going....much more I 'like/love' about iOS 7 than I'm not fond of. Their are quirks, and this was the biggest I was facing....but this remedy worked for me. Copy it, put it on a TexEd file as a recipe and stop by your local Apple store today...I bet it works for ya!
J

I have att. I have iphone 5s. I delete voicemail. Then I go to delete messages. To clear them I have to click that info button. The one with the i in the middle. Then I click back and finally it lets me clear the messages. Try that

That works initially, but for me they come back afterwards. The only semi-sure way I have of deleting messages is directly via AT&T's voicemail.

I have a TMobile iPhone and the VVM is fantastic so issues whatsoever. I feel ya though! I had AT&T at one point and hope the fix the issue for ya.

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I have AT&T and I had the problem with deleted voicemails reappearing for the first several weeks after installing iOS 7.

After deleting them over and over, eventually it settled down and I haven't had a problem with re-appearing voicemails in weeks (knock on wood.)

(And in response to another comment who suggested listening to the VMs first... many of the VMs I deleted I had not listened to at all, and they haven't reappeared either.)

It would seem that each individual's experience differs. I for one listen to all my messages in their entirety and sometimes they still don't clear from the system. My only resolution is to delete them each time they appear. Eventually (like after 3 times), they are completely gone. Also try closing the phone app immediately after deleting a message that sometimes works too but it's basically a crap shoot.

It's nothing *new*, but I recommend checking out Google Voice on iOS. GV can completely replace your carrier voicemail, it transcribes messages to text, never runs out of space, and it's free.

I found it unusable due to the fact that you can't change the default notification tone, so my G+, Gvoice, and every other 3rd party app used the same tone... WTF? Apple really, really, REALLY needs to implement a good Google Voice alternative.

Currently on iPhone 5, been on iOS since a 3G and always on ATT and no issues. I repair phones for an Apple authorized facility (previously Apple Store, long story) but we haven't had any issues nearly at all with VVM. I hope you get it fixed! If so, definitely post the answer!

I have had this problem off, and on. I will get voice mail hours after a person left the message. (away from the phone) I also have the problem of voice mail pop back up over and over after clearing it. I listen to the message, and delete, then clear it. AT&T has reset my voice mail several times. I really think it is an issue with iOS7, and AT&T. I never had the problem until iOS7. Another strange thing, my son has a 4S and running iOS 7.0.4. He has no problems at all. Could it be something in the hardware of the 5S? I do not believe it is a one fix issue.

Given how slow AT&T is to release updates to their Android phones well after the exact same model gets it on other carriers, not to mention how long it takes them to fix phone crippling bugs released with bad updates on those phones, I'm thoroughly convinced that AT&T's tech team is nothing but a bunch of feces throwing monkeys.

Hey!

Hey, now that kind of trollish mudslinging is uncalled for! Do you have any idea of how insulting statements like that are? Just for once, I'd like you kids on the internet to take a moment and consider what you're typing. Just think for a moment!

There's real minds, with feelings and dreams and cares that you're attacking when you spew that vitriolic cuss! So just you be sure that you understand who you're hurting!

I mean seriously! There's no need to stoop to that level just to insult feces throwing monkeys!

I do not use the visual voicemail any longer. I started using YouMail about a year ago and have not had any problems since. Not to mention I receive my voicemails in my email and can forward them to other people via email if necessary.

Well I have PLAY carrier in Europe and haven't had any problems with my VVM, I hope I don't have any problems in the future with it either. Play seems to be up-to-date with their carrier updates also, a 2 days after getting my iPhone 5s I received a carrier update.

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I'm with O2 in the uk and have the same annoying problem.!! Frustrating thing is that everyone blames apple.

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"What possible excuse could they have for not pushing out an update already?"
- 'cause they don't care... Same reason why I STILL disable "Cellular Data" because of the data overage debacle I suffered some time ago!

The only real issue I've had is I have to select a voice mail & wait a few seconds before I can "Delete All" trashed messages.

Meh.

*if I start experiencing VVM issues, Ally...
I'll probably just laugh, cuss, & laugh some more.

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Absolute frustration! This has been going on since update. AT&T told me to make sure I completely shut my phone down every morning for proper updates- whatever! Nothing is proper about this annoyance - I have done everything being mentioned and they all come back - and people can no longer leave messages. What is AT&T thinking?

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Also, some time visual voicemail just doesn't show up on the phone at all. Then hours late it will reappear. My deleted voice mail are staying on the phone. I hope this get taking care of soon.

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With all due respect, the title of this post should be "Rant: My hell that is iOS 7 Visual Voicemail..." It must no doubt be frustrating for the author to not get answers or assistance with the issue, but I think even from the article, it is not clear that the problem with voicemail is an issue with the carrier and, given the numbers of activation quoted and the user adoption of iOS 7, it is likely not a widespread problem.

Glad I'm not the only one. I'm on AT&T with an iPhone 5s running ios 7.04. Same problem. Some vmails delete. Some don't, or take several deletes to make the delete, delete.

I don't recall ever having this problem before, and I've been rocking an iPhone since the original release running ios1.0 on AT&T.

AT&T, Apple, get your shit together.

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I really don't get the fascination with visual voicemail. My carrier here in the uk (Hutchinson 3 uk) doesn't support the service. It's no hardship pressing the voicemail button, and listen to them "the old fashioned way" - my works mobile got upgraded to an iPhone 5 last year, that's on O2. It does have visual voicemail, and t be honest, I find it more annoying and frustrating to use.

No issues on my iPhone 5 running iOS 7.0.4 and carrier AT&T 15.5. I hope the issues get resolved for those that are having them.

On my old Android device and on my current iPhone I continue to use Google Voice to handle my Visual Voicemail and Voicemail. It works well, only takes a little research to set up and what is really nice as a bonus is the voicemails (audio and transcription) can be preserved in your Gmail even if they are deleted from your phone. The transcription isn't always the best if people don't speak clearly but it is really efficient and I don't have to worry about setting up new voicemail greetings, passwords or learning new systems when I switch phones. (I also don't have to pay the carriers for their versions) ... but when Apple's Visual Voicemail works properly it is pretty darn good.

I am with AT&T and have been experiencing this issue since early November. I went through the gamut of troubleshooting steps with AT&T with 3-4 different Tech Support Reps and the 5th one do I find out that AT&T knows about the ongoing issue and that their Network Engineers are working on trying to resolve the issue with no ETA being provided. 2 months later I called on Monday to find out what the status of the issue is and AT&T Tech Support rep tells me that the issue is not resolved and that the Network Engineers are still working on it with no ETA given. I asked if the Network Engineers were hoping that iOS 7.1 would fix the issue (working with Apple to implement a fix with the update) but no response was given. Very frustrating!

no issues here on t-mobile. everything runs great, and the LTE speed is phenomenal! i feel the force is with t-mo and the jedi have targeted the blue and orange death star. it is only time that at&t implodes and explodes.

I don't have visual voicemail with H2O and i try putting the T-Mobile Sim To edit the apn and anything happens no mms and no visual voicemail

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I am with AT&T and I can't delete visual voicemails either ever since updating to IO7. I've tried everything. I can delete them briefly but then they come right back and no one has any answers. AT&T says it's an Apple thing, and Apple says it's an AT&T thing. I've been at 100% for months and have officially given up...

I'm having the same problem with my iPhone 5s on AT&T. I did find a temporary fix that only works until you power off and back on the phone. If you call the AT&T voicemail it will tell you that you have skipped messages. (These are the ones that you have just deleted) Once you delete those messages, the visual voicemail will work correctly until the next time your phone powers off. At least this is working for me as of now. Just remember that every time you turn your phone off you will have to call your voicemail to delete the skipped message before the visual voicemail will work.
Please let me know if you are able to do anything else that works. Thanks!!

This is a disaster. I got my new 5S at launch too, and have been having the same trouble. All of the workarounds described have failed. Apple is pointing to AT&T, and AT&T is pointing at Apple. I got my 5S at an Apple store since AT&T was sold out after launch. My old one had broken so I didn't have a choice. This is my primary business communications device. I have assumed that there was a sync issue between AT&T and Apple, and maybe only folks that got a phone through Apple and not AT&T were having the issues. I wonder if anyone has seen a comparison on that. Apple has now given me a brand new 5s to prove it wasn't the device and I am still having the trouble. AT&T has had a ticket open for weeks for me, and they haven't even called to give me feedback. I am calling them weekly as this is completely unusable as a business phone. I am missing voicemails becuase I constantly have 20+ new ones (that are not new), or my voicemail gets full.

I hate it, but if not fixed by the end of the month, I am going Samsung and T-Mobile to eliminate both hardware and carrier.

Having the same issue. Tried all the fixes, but no go. I believe it's an iOS 7 problem. It started after upgrading my 4S. Continues with my 5S. But this problem sometimes leads to a full mailbox. This is not new technology. It should be fixed!

Just got an iPhone 5S. Got it set up. Went to voicemail and it started dialing. No visual voicemail whatsoever. Got on chat with AT&T. Tried resetting network settings. Tried factory reset. Tried calling myself and leaving a message. Nothing worked. Their solution? Bring to the store. It's 3 hours old for crying out loud. Someone, please God...make it stop. Anyone have a solution? Thanks for your help.

Same issue here. I have spent hours with Apple and AT&T, restoring, resetting, restoring in recovery mode, new s cards, new phone...no change. More hours deleting old voicemails. This is not why I have had an I phone for the last 6 years. The finger pointing between Apple and AT&T is silly. Please fix our phones now.

For reference, I've had (and complained about) this problem on O2 UK since my new 5S in October and on my 4S since the ios 7 upgrade. Not just AT&T.
I deal with up to 10 VMs a day so it's a pain.

I have had the problem since my upgrade to IOS 7. At least that is when I think it started. Today I went old school and deleted all my voice mails directly off AT&T. Then I went back and deleted them off the iPhone. Crossing my fingers, but it seems to have worked.

Allyson,

I'm so happy I found this! My wife and I are both using iPhone 5s on ATT with the same iOS version and carrier updates. I've never had a problem with vvm. She's had this problem ever since she activated her phone last November. Like you, we've spent hours on the phone with AT&T and with Apple. Each company blames the other.

We've wiped the phone and restored factory settings several times. Now, visual voicemail isn't working at all. But, that's better than having 100 messages that you can't erase. Still, it's inconvenient to do without the feature. (by the way - she also has the problem with the outgoing greeting)

The last thing Apple support had us do was connect the her iPhone to a computer while running a diagnostic program and deleting the messages. The program collected data from the phone while the messages reappeared. We sent that log to them at the beginning of January. Yesterday we emailed for an update. Their engineers are still looking into it.

It doesn't seem like this problem is a priority to either party involved. But, it's good to know we're not alone in our frustration!

AT&T iPhone 5s Voicemail from hell. My
voicemail is constantly full because of
deleted messages that reappear and
even multiply. Many hours of my time
have been lost trying get this issue resolved.
Even replaced the phone and set it up
without the benefit of iTunes backup
to avoid possible software conflicts. In the
end It's just another day with the same
problem.

Depending on my phone to earn my living
I just really wish Apple and AT&T
resolve this issue immediately.

Yes VVM has turned into an absolute joke. My messages start to pile up because they come back after having been deleted. I've tried many tricks, including deleting directly via AT&T's voicemail number. I've lost track of which messages are which given my phone is a business phone. When you talk to both Apple and AT&T they just handball the problem back to each other. Surely someone would think of the customer and take the initiative to try and fix it. And the issue with the greeting is really annoying too.

Well my VVM does not work. I have done EVERYTHING including what was mentioned above. Manually called from my phone and used minutes, called from land line, reset my network settings, had ATT reconfigure my network settings, then finally, finally after calling 2 weeks ago and stating I was canceling my service after being a "loyal customer" since 1991, the level 2 tech support sent a ticket to Network Engineering. It worked for a whole week.
Today I installed the SQL update and once again my phone does not delete messages.
I was so mistreated by an ATT Customer Service Rep from the Constant Credit Dept. who told me voice mail is not a credit issue and would not honor a credit since I have been receiving credits since Sept. Well if this is not resolved by March 1, I am switching teams. Either i will go to Tmobile or sell my phone and go to Verizon and get an Android.

I cannot stand iOS7. I've missed important calls, can't access my voicemails, get delayed messages, cannot delete my messages. It's maddening. I went to Apple. They scratched their heads and acted like they'd never heard of it. I went to AT&T and they, at least, admitted to being aware of the issue. They has to reset my voicemail and wipe out all my old calls - for now. This doesn't solve the problem. This is a temporary fix. Honestly, it makes me want to get a Samsung Galaxy. And I've been a loyal Apple customer since the 80s. Interfering with my voicemail - and doing NOTHING - to fix it and, in fact, ignoring it - makes me feel slapped. I rely on this technology as a freelancer. I simply can't afford to have a full mailbox and miss important calls. IOS7 is AWFUL.

My vm and email are running amok after the iOS 7 download. Cannot delete either. Have iPhone 5s and ATT is my carrier. Should I download iOS 7.1...will that fix it?

Not sure if it will stick but I tried the following just now and it seems to have cleared them.

1. Call your own cell # it will take you right into VM and del each message by pressing 7 till they are all gone. Then go into del messages by pressing 19 or 12 I belive and del from there as well.
2.Re-record your greeting. Buy pressing 3 for personal options, then i think its 3 or 4 again for custom greeting. Then Reboot iphone.
3. Go into Visual VM . Press Edit (top left) then swipe each vm and del.
4. Again del from deleted by selecting Clear All.
5. Power off iPhone then Power back.
6. Go into vvm again and select custom greeting. Then press Save.

Ill repost but I seem to be VM free now.

Yes, I have this problem. The apple store woman denied it was a problem across the board and told me "if it is you will have to wait for a fix." I have been an apple customer since 2005. I am ready to unload this iphone5s which now since I downloaded 7.1 is not letting me push the delete all button in deleted messages...before it at least would delete some after 10-15 tries.

Not sure what the problem is. Neither I nor the 15 close friends I know who have iPhones running iOS7 on the AT&T network have ever had this problem. Visual voicemail is by far one of my favorite features of iOS. I recently have been using an Android phone for work and I HATE not having Visual Voicemail. That would really frustrate me if it didn't work.

As a Verizon user who has NOT experienced the issue on my iPhone 5s, but just fixed it on my wife's iPhone 5s, I can confidently say that while the problem may belong to the Apple software on the vendor's side, only the vendor can fix it.

We had to have the voicemail account deleted and a new one created in order to fix it. As it is now July, it seems a proper fix is still eluding them, although the traffic is certainly way down on the issue.

Verizon was quite excellent in fixing the issue - no blame game.