Take Back the Beep!

By  |  Thursday, July 30, 2009 at 12:17 pm

My friend David Pogue of the New York Times is a man on a mission. He’s become irate over the time that cell phone company voicemail systems spend playing a recorded message telling you to leave a message, explaining how to send a page, and suggesting that you hang up when you’re done leaving the message. The messages are pointless little annoyances every time you hear them–and since they take fifteen seconds or so to play, they eat up the monthly minutes of the person who called.

David is trying to rally phone users to bury carriers in such a surging sea of complaints that they enter the 21st century by ditching these obsolete recorded messages. It’s a great idea. His post about all this includes instructions on how to tell your carrier you’re part of the crusade.

Of course, it’s not just that 15-second message that’s irritating–voicemail systems in general tend to sport the most aggravating user interfaces this side of automated supermarket checkouts. One of the nice things about using an iPhone and/or Google Voice is getting to avoid those convoluted menus…and David says that Apple insisted that AT&T eliminate the 15-second message for iPhone voicemail. Which proves it can be done–you know of anyone who’s called an iPhone owner, been bounced into voicemail, and gotten confused by the lack of instructions?


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10 Comments For This Post

  1. tengeta Says:

    Wow, my phone doesn’t seem to have that issue. Thats what you get for being on the bleeding edge with those stupid ass smartphones to begin with. Who cares about 15 seconds of anything when you pay $1,200+ just to do billing and porn surfing with your phone?

  2. Colby Aley Says:

    i did not know that thats why there is not 15 sec thing for iphone! thanks!

  3. gwaterson Says:

    Call anyones cell phone, hope you get voice mail, AND YOU WILL hear the message that everyone is referring to

  4. DaveZatz Says:

    I don’t have it on my AT&T iPhone. Melissa doesn’t have it on her T-Mobile Blackberry. And of all the wireless/carrier issues and injustices to rally the troops around, this sure seems inconsequential.

  5. gwaterson Says:

    Maybe to you but not to thousands of others. have a nice nite

  6. Will England Says:

    Wengla02 here from BuzzAboutWireless.com and now the Sprint Community.

    We hear you – and we’ve stood up a brand new forum to talk about this topic:


    Jack Diemer, our Voicemail guy, has also posted some handy tricks out there to streamline your voicemail experience.

    Why do we make the prompts so long? We have to work on the assumption that everyone using voicemail is a beginner – but for customers that have some experience with the system and want to streamline their settings, you can follow these tips at:


    It is really cool to see this level of interest — thanks for visiting!

    Will England

  7. s Says:

    You have nothing better to do? WOW, think about how much you could do if you put your actions to causes that really need focusing on like oh I don’t know CANCER – nice action guys

  8. Roger That Says:

    I took back the BEEP! Did you?


  9. Cathy Says:

    I’ve been amazed by this for years and wondered why no one else picked up on it. In fact every time I dial someone and get that message I rant about how much extra money the phone companies are making on the additional time the message takes. Some messages are so long that by the time I get the beep I have forgotten who or why I called in the first place! BTW – I have an I-phone. Let me tell you how the I-phone racks up minutes – auto-dialing everyone in your contacts folder if you forget to push the top button each time you end a phone call. And what about the phone company (don’t know which one it is) that has some girl instructing you to “enjoy the music while your party is being reached”! That’s really priceless! For those people with that particular service, I NEVER leave them a message.

  10. Ruth Says:

    This is exactly why I’ve been enjoying the txt and skipping voicemail for almost everyone. If I hang up they know I’ve called; if it’s important I’ll send them a message they can most likely receive sooner and with less trouble. Maybe it is why many if not almost all of the younger set ignore their voicemail – as a group they’ve rejected it altogether. It is becoming obsolete…

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