The Not-So Wonderful Side of Technology

I’m no tech junkie.

I don’t own a smartphone. I don’t allow my kid to play video games. I am anti-Facebook and I don’t text.

However, this is not to say that I don’t embrace the wonders of technology. For example, I am hugely grateful for television remotes and I couldn’t make a living without a laptop.

In addition, I don’t think I could live without a telephone answering machine.

In fact, without the simple technological wonder, I wouldn’t be able to listen to my grandmother’s voice whenever I felt the need.

My dear, sweet grandmother who died nearly five years ago.

I saved the messages she left on my answering machine before she passed, and haven’t had the heart to erase them. Every so often when I miss the sound of her voice, I play the messages and smile… or cry.

I miss my grandmother with all of my heart and cherish those messages. However, my grandma was 95 when she died. I can’t image if the recorded messages were all I had left of my deceased teenage child, and they were suddenly taken from me.

That’s what happened to Faron Butler whose 14-year-old daughter Rhema died of cancer two years ago.

According to ABC News, the heartbroken dad would listen to the voice mail messages his daughter left him prior to her death at least a dozen times a day, but now he can’t access any of them.

Butler claims the messages were deleted from his system when he agreed to a trial of T-Mobile voice-to-text service. The dad says once he signed on the dotted line all existing voice mails on his phone were removed without warning.

“They failed to mention that they would delete my voice messages — or I would have never done it,” Butler told ABC News.

When pressed by the national news crew T-Mobile apologized and released this statement: “When saving voice mail messages long-term, customers receive an alert and are prompted to re-save messages that they’d like to keep. Unfortunately, when the voice mail-to-text feature was added, which has a shorter window for saving messages, the voice mail messages were deleted.”

According to ABC, T-Mobile initially planned to offer the dad money to compensate for his loss, but decided that no amount of cash could make-up for robbing Butler of his precious memories.

Butler has since filed a lawsuit against T-Mobile in an effort to force the company to somehow retrieve his daughter’s voice mail messages. The dad says he believes that in this world of digital know-how the company can find a way to recover the lost recordings.

Butler’s attorney, Chris Crew, believes T-Mobile is resisting because it would open a can of worms and cost a ton of money.

“What I think is really going on is that they don’t want to tell people they can recover lost data, because then everyone will want their deleted items retrieved,” Crew said.

Can you image losing messages left by your now deceased child just because you signed-up for a new cell phone service?

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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.