“Very scary” cell phone problem when dialing 911

Some cell phone users report that they had trouble dialing 911 emergency number from their Google Pixel 6 models.

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DIAL 911 Karen Macleod said she was trying to call 911 when her 5-year-old son Andrew had a seizure. “He was with a babysitter [while] I was at work,” she said. Macleod said she called the Glynn County 911 dispatcher but something went wrong with her line because she heard a click and then silence every time she dialed. “I was panicking voting over and over again,” Macleod said.

Luckily, she was nearby and was able to drive Andrew to the hospital, where doctors diagnosed him with viral meningitis.

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“It’s a huge problem. Very creepy. [It] could have taken his life,” Macleod said. “[It could] taken the lives of other people — not being able to dial 911 on your phone is a big deal.”

COMPLAINTS ABOUT GOOGLE PIXEL

According to International Data Corporation, Macleod is one of five million Google Pixel 6, 6 Pro and 6a owners who bought their phones in the past year. Action News Jax is investigating numerous online complaints from other Google Pixel 6 owners who say their phones are having trouble calling 911 or emergency services. One person on Google’s support forum said, “I tried to call 911 twice today from my car, but the emergency number didn’t actually ring.” On Reddit, one person wrote, “I couldn’t get my phone to to connect to 911” during an emergency at her home. Macleod posted a video of her experience on TikTok showing the phone seemingly not connecting to the 911 call center: “So this is what happens on my brand new $1,000 Google phone when I try to call 911.”

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“It doesn’t connect. There is no ringtone, no dial tone. There’s nothing there,” Macleod said in another TikTok video.

THE EXAM When she dialed 911 for this video, it was just a test. It’s legal because she dialed the non-emergency number first to alert the dispatchers. “They shouldn’t have to test it,” said Craig Agranoff, a technology expert in South Florida. He said access to 911 is not only important but also the law mandated by the Federal Communications Commission. “911 is not a favor for us. It is required by the carriers,” he said.

Google’s own support page shows that it has created a “fix for the issue that prevents emergency calls under certain conditions while some third-party apps are installed”. Agranoff said Google provided this fix last January. However, based on Macleod’s experience in September, it’s not clear if this update fixed the issue. “It’s not enough to just fix it every time people find it,” Agranoff said.

REPLY

I contacted Glynn County 911 about Macleod’s 911 problem. The county said it “found no records of those calls registered in our system during the time in question,” although Macleod’s phone log shows she called 911.

Also, I contacted Google about Macleod’s 911 issue. It replied, “We have no comment to make.”

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The FCC told us that it found 91 responsive records on issues the Google Pixel 6 is having with its services, but no records that relate specifically to 911 or emergency contact numbers.

Google released its new Pixel 7 in October. To date, there hasn’t been a word about problems with dialing 911.

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Macleod said Google gave her a refund and now she’s using a different brand.

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