Re: when we dial out the answering party cannot hear us,...
These phones are extremely durable. The most likely cause is a bad handset cord, which is a standard modular type and easily replaced, or possibly just a bad handset, which is proprietary. (The handset cord connection at the handset is hidden by a snap on cover you can remove with a small screwdriver or fingernail file. Pry it just above the cord as it enters the main handset body.)
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These phones work on about 8 NEC phone systems, but most are just newer versions of the same system. So, most likely the callback feature has been activated. Someone internally calls you, you don't answer, they dial # to activate callback. You come back to your phone, see feature key flashing, lift handset, dial #, call goes to whoever set callback, then feature key stops blinking.
If your main system cabinet (in some closet somewhere) is plastic, you have the NEC Electra Professional Level I system and the DND cancel procedure is <FNC>, 60, <FNC> when the phone is idle.
If your main system cabinet is metal, you have the NEC Electra Professional Level II system and the DND cancel procedure is <FNC>, 69, <FNC> when the phone is idle. You can also press "42" while hearing intercom dial tone. The most common cause of accidentally setting DND is by dialing "40" while hearing intercom dial tone (Level II system).There is a slim chance your main system is not the Electra Professional series. If either of the above do not work, let me know.
With call in progress, ask party to hold.
Press Transfer, receive interrupted dial tone.
Dial desired number
After call is answered, press Conf. Conf LED lights.
Three-way conference is established.
If one party hangs up, other two remain connected. Conf light goes out.