NUTSHELL: In order to have Google Voice take care of your voicemail instead of Sprint, you need to add a *73 Conditional Call Forwarding code to your Sprint account… so that your busy / no answer calls at Sprint are forwarded to your Google Voice number, where Google will take care of your voicemail, and leave Sprint out of it! It’s so simple.
Just use your phone app and make an outbound call (from your Sprint number) and dial *73XXXXXXXXXX (where X is your 10-digit Google Voice number). It will be silent for just a second and then you will hear a beep and it will hang up on you. You’re done. Now calls that you don’t answer will go to Google Voice for voicemail!
Have Sprint? Use Google Voice? Having configuration problems? If so, this article is for you.
Google Voice has treated me well for the past few years. I love the features it offers, and all for free. I appreciate that calls made to my GV number are auto forwarded to my cell. That’s perfect for when I am in the field and out of the office.
My mobile phone plan is on the Sprint network. The system and configuration worked well until last week when I changed my mobile plan. I’m still on the same phone, with the same number, and still on Sprint… we just changed the data package / plan.
After the plan change, the GV configuration with Sprint was no longer working. If you called my cell and I sent you to voicemail, you’d hear a Sprint voicemail system greeting. That’s not what I want. I want you to hear my GV voicemail greeting.
If you called my GV number, you’d be auto-forwarded to my cell (that part still worked) and if I clicked “dismiss” on my cell because I could not talk with you, you’d be sent to the Sprint voicemail system greeting. Again, not what I wanted.
So, I deleted the GV app and re-installed a number of times, trying to fix the problem.
I deleted Google Hangouts app.
I removed my cell as a forwarding number from Google Voice desktop so that it was no longer a forwarding recipient of calls made to my GV number.
I did everything I could to disconnect Google Voice from Sprint and vice versa… simply trying to start fresh… as if I was a brand new user.
During installation and configuration, biggest roadblock was that anytime Google Voice asked me to configure my Sprint account by dialing the *28 code (conditional call forwarding) (CCF) the Sprint system male operator would say, “The feature code you’ve entered is not valid.”
You see, in order for Google Voice to take your voicemail, Sprint has to send ignored calls to Google’s servers and not its own Sprint servers. The *28 code makes that forwarding happen; it says, “Oh, there’s no answer? Okay, then I’ll go to Google.”
I researched and found that the *38 code would turn OFF conditional call forwarding. I thought I would try it and attempt to delete or turn off any existing forwarding on Sprint’s system. That would not work for me either… I got the same error message, “The feature code you’ve entered is not valid.”
Frustrating. The *28 and *38 codes are calls that you make from your cell TO Sprint… so for them to not work, it’s something wrong on Sprint’s computer system and in my account. To me, it’s clear as day, but to many of the Sprint reps, the problem is with Google.
On GV desktop, when I would try to enable integration, it would tell me, “Unfortunately, Google Voice cannot be enabled on this Sprint phone. Please contact Sprint for more details as to why this cannot be enabled.”
Clearly, Google tried and Sprint blocked it. Google wants nothing more than to provide my voicemail services and snoop into my life for advertising… which is fine with me… but the point is that they would not have an interest in blocking the service.
Seeing these error messages a number of times, no matter what I did to start clean, start fresh, I could not get anywhere.
I spent the good part of a day on the phone with multiple Sprint reps. I talked with them. I chatted with them directly on Facebook private messages. I chatted with them on their website chat system. Nobody could help me. And I got different answers from different people. And nobody really had much experience with Google Voice.
The farthest I got with any of them was a lady who spent a LOT of time “researching” and ultimately came back to say that, “Sprint voicemail is a part of your new plan, and because of the plan that you have, it cannot be removed. I’ve tried everything. Have you contacted Google?”
That was really frustrating to hear, because it’s a stupid answer / reason / thing to say.
No matter how many Sprint people I spoke with and no matter how many times I mentioned the error messages, and that the Sprint system was not letting me enter the conditional call forwarding code *28, they did not know what to do.
The next day, I reached out again to Sprint via facebook chat. A rep named Janice called me. She listened patiently to my explanation of how things are supposed to work, and that the system was blocking me from setting CCF codes. So she MANUALLY added the *28 CFF code to my account, forwarding busy / no answer calls to Google, and now it works again! Halleluia!
Google and Sprint both acknowledge that Google Voice will not work on Sprint lines that have certain issues, mostly financial, like “You haven’t paid your bill” or “Your account is on hold” type of scenarios. But there’s no reason for it not to work this week when it worked last week, when I’m on the same device, same number, same network, etc. The only change was my sprint mobile plan — which somehow deleted the *28 Conditional Call Forwarding code from my account, and blocked ME from adding it back to my account.
So why go through all this trouble?
- I want one voicemail service, not two.
- I want to control which greeting a person hears when they call. Google Voice let’s mom hear one message, while clients hear another.
- I want my voicemail messages transcribed into text then emailed to me for convenience, archiving, and searching.
- I want all of my voices messages to appear in Google Hangouts. This convenience allows me to quickly read the message, and in most cases, quickly type a text back to them, from any device.
Thanks to Janice at Sprint for fixing what others couldn’t!