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David Pogue Wants to Take Back the Beep

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the pogue-mahone-jerks dept.

Communications 383

David Pogue has distilled into useful form a long-standing complaint I have (and one reason I have long had a voice mail greeting that asked people not to leave me voicemail): cell phone companies set up the greeting, caller instructions, and playback system prompts in large part to maximize their revenue per user; by his calculations, the "mandatory 15-second voicmail instructions" from AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile and others is earning those companies something near a billion dollars a year in charges. Pogue suggests that users should "take back the beep," and to that end provides contact information for the largest cell carriers in order to register a complaint — and, more helpful in the short run, suggests ways in which to make better use of paid-for phone minutes by alerting callers how to bypass the annoying instructions.

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383 comments

Take back the seconds (5, Interesting)

alain94040 (785132) | more than 4 years ago | (#28887345)

Does the extra 15 seconds added by the operator really cost me anything since my phone bill uses 1-minute increments?

What would save us consumers a lot more money is having cellphone operators bill usage by the second. The European Commission already
forced the European operators [cnn.com] to adopt 1-second billing increments.

--
crowdsource your iPhone app ideas [fairsoftware.net]

Re:Take back the seconds (5, Insightful)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 4 years ago | (#28887413)

Damn it, every single good technology regulation idea I've seen in the past ten years, from universal cell phone chargers to browser choice in operating systems, has come from the EU. Why can't we stand up to big corporations here in the US?

Re:Take back the seconds (5, Insightful)

Moryath (553296) | more than 4 years ago | (#28887501)

Welcome to the U$: government by the corporations, for the corporations.

Track how much slush fund money Obama got under the table from certain groups if you don't believe me. Keep track of why certain Florida/California representatives might as well tag their names with (D-Disney) rather than (D-State).

Look at who paid for - and got - the last three copyright extensions, the DMCA, etc.

This is what happens when your campaigns are privately financed and not on level playing fields (e.g. same budgetary restrictions per candidate).

Re:Take back the seconds (4, Insightful)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 4 years ago | (#28887565)

Money may be speech according to the Supreme Court, but it's profane speech.

Re:Take back the seconds (4, Funny)

Jurily (900488) | more than 4 years ago | (#28887671)

This is what happens when your campaigns are privately financed and not on level playing fields (e.g. same budgetary restrictions per candidate).

This is what you get when you let the peasants vote: the one with the bigger campaign wins.

Re:Take back the seconds (3, Funny)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 4 years ago | (#28887777)

The really, really funny bit is that the #1 crusader of all time for "campaign finance reform" - John McCain - got buried by it.

Re:Take back the seconds (0, Offtopic)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 4 years ago | (#28887511)

Maybe if we had 3 weeks of mandatory vacation too, we'd have enough time to think of and lobby our lawmakers ourselves. "Two weeks" vacation is just enough to take a couple of 3 day weekends and one or two good "long weekends". If you live anywhere besides the NE on west coast, you have to kill a full day to vacation anywhere. In europe a 45 min drive in any direction from your town will get you to spectacular countryside. Many citizens in US states have to drive 2+ hours to even see a mountain; that time/distance in europe will get you to most any other country.

Re:Take back the seconds (1, Informative)

Swizec (978239) | more than 4 years ago | (#28887569)

Many Europeans actually get 5 weeks paid vacation ... just sayin'

Re:Take back the seconds (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28887941)

Yeah, because clearly seeing a mountain is the only way to see some spectacular countryside. Is it really a problem that say, Miami is far far away from any mountainous regions? We can't have all our states like Colorado!

There may be many reasons for differences between the US and Europe, but some of it is simply strange to even thing of a reason.

Re:Take back the seconds (4, Funny)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 4 years ago | (#28887593)

Why can't we stand up to big corporations here in the US?

Because you're not a bunch of socialists who hate capitalism?

Crap, there's shit dribbling out my ears again...

Re:Take back the seconds (1)

Jurily (900488) | more than 4 years ago | (#28887611)

Actually, second-based billing was in place almost everywhere long before the EU standardized it. It sells more, and we don't have three-way shared monopolies and price fixing around here.

Re:Take back the seconds (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28887681)

You've got a right to bare arms and freedom of speech you're countrymen are so fond of; they should use them to make a stand - not shoot things and talk of shit.

Re:Take back the seconds (1)

electrosoccertux (874415) | more than 4 years ago | (#28887807)

We don't need to regulate it. Just do what I do and say at the end of my voicemail, "press * to leave a message". This varies from carrier to carrier so you'll need to find out what yours is. Sprint is 1 IIRC, others might be #, etc.

Re:Take back the seconds (1)

Jafafa Hots (580169) | more than 4 years ago | (#28888073)

huh? Please explain this.

Re:Take back the seconds (2, Informative)

jrmcferren (935335) | more than 4 years ago | (#28888151)

On at&t, and T-Mobile pressing the # key skips the greeting, on Verizon Wireless and Sprint you press the * key. It is usually the key opposite of the key you press to get the login prompts. For example you press * on at&t to get the login prompts, and # to skip the greeting.

A Proud at&t User.

Re:Take back the seconds (5, Insightful)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 4 years ago | (#28887851)

This_is_why [youtube.com]

Resistance is futile... (1, Offtopic)

thisnamestoolong (1584383) | more than 4 years ago | (#28887957)

"Why can't we stand up to big corporations here in the US?"

The government is not even in the pocket of big business anymore, big business has assimilated the government, Borg-style. It is not that business has undue influence of government, its that they are simply one and the same entity. The Fed is a private bank, the media controls all of our political decisions, election coverage is directed to the lowest common denominator, through the polarized and biased corporate media. Because of the "us vs. them" mentality, the people refuse to see how bad their guy is fscking them, blaming the other side instead. To paraphrase Bill Hicks, '[Guy 1]I think the puppet on the left best represents my views. [Guy 2]Well I find the puppet on the right more to my liking. [Guy 3]Hey there's one guy holding both puppets! [Gov't] Go back to sleep America... your government is in control.' The people just get fat and stupid, caring more about the how the local sports team is performing (most are even stupid enough to think that this team represents them, failing to notice that the sports team in question is simply another monolithic corporate entity that happens to bear the name of the nearest metropolis) than what is really happening to them. They fail to question the fact that our federal income tax is unconstitutional (and not even on the books!) and enforced by an illegal terrorist organization. They fail to question it when the government decides to tell them that they can be locked in a cell for YEARS for possession a PLANT THAT GROWS IN THE GROUND. They continue listening to what is told to them by the TV, to be good little consumers and to keep buying shit they don't need. A long, rambling post that will probably be modded down, but is that a good enough answer as to why Americans don't stand up to big corporations?

Re:Take back the seconds (5, Informative)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 4 years ago | (#28887981)

It's a double edged sword. Yes, there are some great EU market regulations (like standardized cellphone chargers), but there are some pretty terrible regulations, too. Many of the EU market regulations are extremely expensive to comply with. You would not be happy, I assure you, if prices at Fry's and Microcenter were as high as prices are at retail stores in France.

Re:Take back the seconds (1, Interesting)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 4 years ago | (#28888009)

The French have a higher standard of living than we do, so of course you can expect some prices to be higher. Can you give me a concrete example of a poor market regulation though?

Re:Take back the seconds (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28888219)

... Why can't we stand up to big corporations here in the US?

Because they pay us not to?

Re:Take back the seconds (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 4 years ago | (#28887479)

Well, if your voicemail was intended to be 1:55, and you have to wait an extra 15 seconds, you will be charged 3 minutes instead of 2. That does not amount to much for most people, but it does add up, and cell carriers do make a decent amount of money by forcing everyone to use extra minutes like that. I have to wonder why no price fixing investigations have ever been taken up in response to that sort of behavior.

Re:Take back the seconds (1)

mea37 (1201159) | more than 4 years ago | (#28888205)

Probably becuase that's not what "price fixing" means. A consumer fraud investigation of some sort might make sense, though.

From an individual point of view, GP may have a point. I have a fixed cost per month unless my allegedly-peak usage exceeds some limit, and after that my additional allegedly-peak hours come in sizable blocks. The odds of voicemail greetings pushing me over a price increment are slim (especially since I almost never exceed my base amount).

To me the messages are annoying not becuase they cost me money, but because they are annoying.

From a carrier's point of view, the point is that not everyone is on a plan like mine. Some percentage of callers do get charged an extra minute that literally hits their pocket book, and the nickels add up.

On the other hand, and I suppose I'm going to editorialize a bit here: If you're leaving 1:55 voicemail messages, knock it off.

Re:Take back the seconds (5, Insightful)

JCSoRocks (1142053) | more than 4 years ago | (#28887513)

Regardless of cost it's still incredibly obnoxious having to listen to that crap. Particularly when someone either already has a long message or has gone out of his way to make a short one. Does anyone ever even use those garbage options? Page them? wtf? is this the 90's? If I'd wanted to do that I would have sent him a text.

My second favorite are the menus that start with "Please listen carefully as our options have changed blah blah blah..." It seems, almost invariably, that those messages just become permanent. Someone changes the system and forgets they added that message or never bothers to update it.

Re:Take back the seconds (4, Insightful)

mcmonkey (96054) | more than 4 years ago | (#28887655)

Does anyone ever even use those garbage options? Page them? wtf?

And are there any cell phones left out there without caller ID? Don't they already have my number in the missed calls log?

Re:Take back the seconds (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 4 years ago | (#28887901)

If their phone is off/out of range, you won't show up in the missed calls log because the phone never got the call.

I imagine a page is sent via SMS, which means it will eventually get through rather than just the vague "You have X new voicemails" notice. I don't exactly scramble to answer that myself.

Re:Take back the seconds (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#28887965)

If it's off/out of range, it also won't ring. So, as long as it rings, you know you're in their missed calls log.

Re:Take back the seconds (1)

Ifni (545998) | more than 4 years ago | (#28888139)

If their phone is off/out of range, you won't show up in the missed calls log because the phone never got the call.

Of course, at least with Sprint, it tells you who called (by name if they are a Sprint customer, by number otherwise) when you retrieve the message, no need to even have your cell phone record the caller ID in your call log. Of course, if your friend isn't a Sprint customer and you don't have their phone number committed to memory, this could be less than convenient, but one would hope that you might possibly recognize their voice.

Re:Take back the seconds (5, Funny)

Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) | more than 4 years ago | (#28887751)

My second favorite are the menus that start with "Please listen carefully as our options have changed blah blah blah..." It seems, almost invariably, that those messages just become permanent. Someone changes the system and forgets they added that message or never bothers to update it.

Hey, I programmed that system. That message is prepended to the menu anytime the menu changes. Exactly one week after the message has changed the system automatically changes the menu to remove the prepended message. There's no way that message constantly appears.

*checks logs*

  • Menu changed 01/08/09 12:32:01
  • Menu changed 01/15/09 12:32:01
  • Menu changed 01/22/09 12:32:01
  • Menu changed 01/29/09 12:32:01
  • Menu changed 02/05/09 12:32:01
  • Menu changed 02/12/09 12:32:01
  • Menu changed 02/19/09 12:32:01
  • Menu changed 02/26/09 12:32:01
  • Menu changed 03/05/09 12:32:01
  • ...

Wait a second...

Re:Take back the seconds (4, Insightful)

rock_climbing_guy (630276) | more than 4 years ago | (#28887767)

If you leave a long message, put your phone number at the *beginning* of the message so if they need to hear it again, they don't have to play the whole message.

Re:Take back the seconds (4, Insightful)

LMacG (118321) | more than 4 years ago | (#28887859)

That "our menu options have changed" message kills me. Changed when? From what? Sorry, Bank of XYZ, but I didn't memorize your options in the first place. Sorry.

Re:Take back the seconds (1)

Crazy Man on Fire (153457) | more than 4 years ago | (#28887563)

It may not cost you anything, but not everyone has the luxury of being on an unlimited or high limit plan. In fact, there's a good number of people that don't have a traditional cell phone contract and use the rechargeable/calling card/by the minute/pay as you go type phones.

Personally, I have an older contract that doesn't have a ton of minutes each month. I don't regularly use more than half of my minutes each month, but then again I hardly talk on the phone. I know a good sized chunk of people who have gone over their minutes pretty regularly.

Finally, even if you're only billed in 1-minute increments, that 15 seconds can still push an otherwise 1 minute call into the 2 minute range.

Re:Take back the seconds (1)

AshtangiMan (684031) | more than 4 years ago | (#28888025)

Billed by the minute means that any fraction of a minute is counted as a full minute. So yes, it is costing you.

Re:Take back the seconds (1)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 4 years ago | (#28888031)

I'm confused as I am pretty sure I can disable them on T-mobile, but perhaps I am wrong.

Re:Take back the seconds (1)

Chris Pimlott (16212) | more than 4 years ago | (#28888201)

Are you kidding? What about all the calls that would have been 45-59 seconds long in the last minute? That 15 seconds costs you an extra minute on 25% of your voicemail calls.

Earth to David! (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28887365)

It's called the # key. It works on T-Mobile and with many other vendor's voicemail systems. It was not a grand conspiracy to rack up minutes when answering machines allowed you to customize your greeting (even though long distance charges were 28 cents a minutes back in that day). It's not a conspiracy now.

Try the crumbly windmills next time.

Re:Earth to David! (4, Informative)

Anubis IV (1279820) | more than 4 years ago | (#28887693)

He mentions the # in the article. That's not the point. The point is that millions upon millions of customers are not as smart as you are, so they listen through that voicemail message every single time they want to leave a message. That adds up to hundreds of thousands or millions of wasted man-hours each year, as well as additional charges to some customers.

And if you had read TFA, you'd have noticed that he mentioned the fact that he's talked to high-up execs at these companies and that they admitted to him that they do it for the purpose of collecting additional charges. So, while "conspiracy" may be a rather strong word, it's not altogether inaccurate.

Re:Earth to David! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28887805)

Yes, millions upon millions of people are bloody morons. Big corporations are screwing them over only as long as they remain moronic. Can you explain why I should care?

Mod Parent Up (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28887913)

Yes, millions upon millions of people are bloody morons. Big corporations are screwing them over only as long as they remain moronic. Can you explain why I should care?

We shouldn't. Those people are making the service CHEAPER for the rest of us.

Re:Earth to David! (4, Insightful)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 4 years ago | (#28887923)

If we're going to talk about how cell companies nickle and dime their customers, there are way bigger fish to fry than voicemail - SMS, MMS, ringtones, etc.

nickels and dimes (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 4 years ago | (#28888159)

there are way bigger fish to fry than voicemail

Agreed

SMS

The markup on this is insane, and the main reason why I use it as seldom as possible. I send barely a dozen text messages a year and will keep it that way until the prices come down to earth. And don't try to sell me on an "unlimited text" plan because I have never in my life sent $5 worth of text messages in a month.

MMS

I honestly haven't found a good reason to care about this one yet, one way or the other. Voicemail is adequately cheap and effective for me.

ringtones

On this one I don't care how much they charge. Frankly I think the higher a musical riff is on the billboard charts, the higher the price should be for it as a ringtone. I for one don't want to hear the background to Britney's latest hit while I am waiting in line at the bank. Nor do I want to hear the latest from the newest boy band, anywhere, ever. Why people insist their phones not ring like phones is beyond me.

Now get off my lawn.

Re:Earth to David! (1)

Jafafa Hots (580169) | more than 4 years ago | (#28888189)

It would be nice if they nickel and dimed us. Instead they dollar and five-dollar us.

I just got a new phone with a new contract. It has mobile web, and they charge $2.50 per mb. According to their site they estimate that 2mb will be somewhere between 20-50 mobile web pages.

So I go to test this feature. I log onto the mobile web, go to hotmail but don't load any messages. One screen. (Maybe 2-3 if you give them the benefit of the doubt.)

Then I go to the gmail mobile web site, load ONE email, then disconnect.

Checked my bill online last night, that cost me $6.50. Load hotmail but dont read messages, load gmail and read one message - $6.50.

Re:Earth to David! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28887999)

If he got execs high up in companies to admit to it more power to him. Given the complete lack of foresight of most executives I'd wager dollars to donuts they are just taking credit for something that happened of it's own accord. Perhaps that makes me closer to the conspiracy theorists than I'd like....

Executive egotism aside, what we're talking about is a system that caters to noobs and costs more (e.g. Apple). So his particular whiny rant is for people who:

Aren't such beginners that they need the message.
But aren't so advanced as to learn how to press the "#."
And don't want their message to waste the five seconds it takes to make their greeting, "Press '#' to leave a message.

Sorry that's just stupid. We don't live in a world where everyone understands technology without directions, or knows that they can hit a key to send an SMS page, or that they can leave a message and restart it if the dog starts barking in the middle. Beginners aren't going to guess at "that these abilities must exist" and start hitting keys to find them. Systems are designed for the least common denominator without any oppressive influence of "The Man" to add a few seconds to your phone bill.

The world is not stocked entirely with /. geeks.

Re:Earth to David! (1)

Itninja (937614) | more than 4 years ago | (#28888197)

So just start your voicemail greeting with "You can press # to bypass this message...". Problem solved!

Re:Earth to David! (1)

Sophacles (24240) | more than 4 years ago | (#28887817)

Dude, the answering machine ALLOWED you to make long recordings. The voicemails FORCE you to listen, unless you know the secret cheat code. Now that I know it I'll use it, but why don't the companies tell me what the code is easily? Why must I read about it on slashdot instead? That is the point.

not universal (2, Informative)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 4 years ago | (#28887963)

It's called the # key. It works on T-Mobile and with many other vendor's voicemail systems

On Sprint you press 1.
On Verizon there is no key. You can mash keys until you run out of buttons and the closest you'll get is a prompt asking for the customer's PIN.
I don't know anyone currently on AT&T so I don't know what the option is for their voicemail (if there is one).

It's not a conspiracy now.

Its not a universal standard, either. Maybe we don't need to go all the way to beep-only, but it would be nice if there was a consistent way to bypass other people's voicemail greetings, especially if you don't know beforehand what network they use.

Re:not universal (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#28888005)

TFA had several people posting that * skips the greeting on Verizon... or is this just to log in to check the voicemail?

Only one way to respond to David Pogue. (1)

Seumas (6865) | more than 4 years ago | (#28887417)

BEEP you, David Pogue!

Not making much money from me... (1)

omgarthas (1372603) | more than 4 years ago | (#28887449)

I have a fixed cost in-voice that doesn't vary unless I talk an absurd amount of time each month (say... 100 hours...)

T-Mobile (1)

yoyhed (651244) | more than 4 years ago | (#28887461)

T-Mobile doesn't charge me to call my own voicemail, so that doesn't matter. As far as leaving a message for others, does anyone really leave longer than a 45-second message anyway (keeping the total under a minute)? Name, number, quick reason you're calling, that's all you need usually.

Re:T-Mobile (5, Funny)

Xtravar (725372) | more than 4 years ago | (#28887577)

As far as leaving a message for others, does anyone really leave longer than a 45-second message anyway (keeping the total under a minute)?

Mothers.

US Cellular (1)

boeroboy (1501771) | more than 4 years ago | (#28887585)

I gets free incoming. No cost to my voice mail until I check it. And if I check it from a land line, no cost at all. Not to plug or anything.

Re:T-Mobile (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28887683)

Back when I had an old two cassete answering machine, there was a switch to limit an incoming message to 30 seconds. Only one blowhard ever exceeded the thirty second limit, and she was the reason I turned the switch on in the first place.

Re:T-Mobile (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | more than 4 years ago | (#28887769)

If someone made a 120 calls that were each 30 seconds long, I seriously doubt that their bill for the month would show 0 minutes. More likely, it would show 60 minutes of calls. Just because a specific call is under 60 seconds does not mean that the cell phone companies are ignoring it. They all get rolled together in the end.

Re:T-Mobile (2, Informative)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#28887829)

No, you'd get billed for 120 minutes. It rounds up, not down.

Re:T-Mobile (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | more than 4 years ago | (#28887893)

Thanks for the correction. Even more reason why those messages are annoying...

Re:T-Mobile (1)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 4 years ago | (#28887875)

No, it will show 120 minutes of usage. US carriers bill in 1-minute increments. The point is that while 120 calls of 0:59 duration bill as 120 minutes of usage, 120 calls of 1:01 duration (that's four minutes' more total airtime) will bill as 240 minutes of usage.

so there are people who pay by the minute? (1)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 4 years ago | (#28887503)

Even on the cheapest plans, there are so many minutes included, plus free nights and weekends, plus free mobile-to-mobile, et cetera. I think I've only gone over my included monthly minutes once.

I suspect that few callers are paying for those 15 seconds of instructions.

Re:so there are people who pay by the minute? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28887717)

Except by probably losing some of their inclusive minutes. Then you have to look at how if you make a call to a billed number on another network, your network is actually paying for call termination to the other one, even if you are using an inclusive minute. Do you think they pay for that out of the kindness of their hearts, or do you think you're paying for at least some fraction of it in your fixed monthly fee?

CAPTCHA: hiding. As in, what the real costs are doing.

Re:so there are people who pay by the minute? (3, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#28887987)

Yeah, it struck me as a 'big scary number' style calculation.

I bet the amount people 'overpay' by using basket style contracts is even huger.

Plans come in chunk much greater than 15 seconds (4, Insightful)

Flaggday (1373017) | more than 4 years ago | (#28887519)

Maybe my perception is wrong, but aren't the majority of U.S. cell phone users on a plan that they're paying for in terms of 100s of minutes at least? 15 seconds is annoying, and I agree with his preference for these things going away, but who doesn't just have a monthly plan that dwarfs their actual usage to start with? Pogue's back-of-the-envelope calculations seems to completely ignore this.

Re:Plans come in chunk much greater than 15 second (3, Insightful)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 4 years ago | (#28887713)

If your message takes 46 seconds to say, it will rack up as 2 minutes instead of 1 minute. Is this how it works?

Re:Plans come in chunk much greater than 15 second (1)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 4 years ago | (#28887839)

Yes.

Can't remember the last time I used voicemail (2, Interesting)

ickleberry (864871) | more than 4 years ago | (#28887529)

But there is no doubt it is a huge earner for the networks. Here in Ireland, and even on Skype now you often have to pay something like 5c as soon as the phone is answered, this includes getting someones voicemail. I never leave a message, I have listened to my own messages being played back at someone elses house and just didn't like it. I prefer to call back or send a SMS.

The worst has to be getting someone's voicemail when calling from a satellite phone, 75c down the drain for nothing. Really wish there was a 5 second chance for you to hang up and not get charged, or better still abolish voicemail altogether. Let people run their own answering machines if they desire but ban voicemail

Re:Can't remember the last time I used voicemail (1)

Chaos Incarnate (772793) | more than 4 years ago | (#28887667)

Really wish there was a 5 second chance for you to hang up and not get charged, or better still abolish voicemail altogether. Let people run their own answering machines if they desire but ban voicemail

That works fine for landlines, but for people who only have cell phones, they can't run an answering machine.

Re:Can't remember the last time I used voicemail (1)

ickleberry (864871) | more than 4 years ago | (#28887779)

I'm sure of the hackers here will be able to whip up an App for the popular phones (S60, WM6, iphone), or better yet hard-hack a micro casette recorder into a phone.

Re:Can't remember the last time I used voicemail (1)

prockcore (543967) | more than 4 years ago | (#28888053)

Call my google voice number and you'll get google's voicemail, not AT&Ts.

Self-made "leave a message" (0, Flamebait)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 4 years ago | (#28887535)

You know those utterly annoying self-made "leave a message after the beep" messages that include some "cute" song etc. I am sure everyone has had a friend or a acquaintance living abroad that was not at home and made such message for the answering machine. It's so infuriating that my attitude is "I'm not leaving a damn to this guy - fuck him and his minutes-long answering message".

Re:Self-made "leave a message" (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#28887853)

Um, there's a key you can press to skip the message. It's either 1, *, or #.

Re:Self-made "leave a message" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28887991)

"Believe it or not George is not at home, please leave a message at the beep, I must be out or I'd pick up the phone, where could I be, believe it or not I'm not home. "

Re:Self-made "leave a message" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28888061)

~daaaah dah du-dah daaah~
Believe it or not, George isn't at home.
Please leave a message at the beep.

I am not here or I'd pick up the phone.
Where could I be?

Believe it or not, I'm not home.

-beep-

Man up, you Tracphone bitch (4, Funny)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 4 years ago | (#28887599)

Get a real phone plan, or one from a decent provider. AT&T just capped my rollover minutes when I hit something like 4000 (in just 2 years on the minimal 700 minute a month plan). Does anyone really have a plan where they regularly go over their monthly allotment, and it's not cheaper to get the next tier?

If the 15 seconds is too painful, read up on the options to skip the message. As for the man up comment - that goes for you, too, Timothy. And while we're at it, why don't you go ahead and turn in your geek card for not knowing you could hit # and skip right to the beep.

Yes, I am in a foul mood this afternoon; thanks for asking.

Re:Man up, you Tracphone bitch (1)

ickleberry (864871) | more than 4 years ago | (#28887725)

Go to the next tier? yeah, thats playing right into the hands of AT&T. I'm billed by the second and i still get pissed off that I have to pay to listen to some recording that hasn't changed in 4 years.

You seem to be supporting the Big American Telco's mantra that prepaid = for poor people and kids who can't control their spending. I was in the good ole US of A a while ago and it seemed like the T-mobile staffers job was to laugh at me first when I told them I had a pre-paid sim, tried to sign me up to a contract after telling them I would only be there for two weeks.

Back home I get 60 minutes a month, you might think thats crazy but it isn't really. I got a Nokia E63 (unlocked and debranded, a rarity for phones in the US) and make most of my calls using the phone's built in SIP client (if you buy the E63 through a carrier, that SIP client is likely to be removed)

Re:Man up, you Tracphone bitch (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28888093)

And while we're at it, why don't you go ahead and turn in your geek card for not knowing you could hit # and skip right to the beep.
What's so geeky about knowing a lot about the phone system? Phreaking is close to dead these days.

No problem on Sprint (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28887633)

I've set my Sprint voicemail to play only my voice prompt, which is about 3s long before the beep. It's not difficult.

Re:No problem on Sprint (3, Informative)

semifamous (231316) | more than 4 years ago | (#28887707)

Instructions that I posted here:
http://community.sprint.com/baw/thread/20563 [sprint.com]

      1. Call Your Voicemail
      2. At the menu, press 3 for Personal Options
      3. Press 2 for Greeting
      4. Press 1 to change the greeting.
      5. To enable/disable the instructions, press 3

Re:No problem on Sprint (3, Informative)

semifamous (231316) | more than 4 years ago | (#28887739)

Oh, and as long as you're in Personal Options, listen for the "Expert Mode" option and enable that. Should shave a few seconds of your voicemail checking.

Headline is wrong (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28887651)

David wants to take back my cock up his ass is correct

fuck you slashdot! eat shit and die!

Billions of dollars? (1)

JSmooth (325583) | more than 4 years ago | (#28887677)

Although I would question the validity of a billion dollar scam (as another user points out most plans get free minutes and if you exceed your quota by 15 seconds or 1 minutes, wow...) Perhaps it is a cross billing issue between providers?

I HATE that stupid message. It will be the second reason I can't wait to dump Verizon Wireless this fall when my contract expires. Yes I have the "You may press * to bypass this message" at the start of my greeting (yes, it is * for Verizon) but nobody else does this so it is always an insulting guessing game. But just like we sheep consumer blithely accept more and more advertising shoved down our throats so goes the message. I can't wait for the day when I get the verbal instructions on how to use the numeric keypad, (You may now leave a numeric message. To leave a 1, press the 1 key, etc.)

Gosh, helpful Verizon... Maybe society is really becoming so mentally limited this type of stuff is needed.

-Joe

One of the only things I liked about Sprint (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 4 years ago | (#28887735)

If you are calling a sprint customer, you can bypass their voicemail greeting by pressing 1, and get the beep you really want.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is Verizon, who as best I can tell does not allow you to bypass the greeting and prompt. Indeed if you don't like it when people leave you voicemail, become a Verizon subscriber and use a super-long greeting. People will give up on leaving a voicemail on your phone.

Adjust your message! (1)

foodnugget (663749) | more than 4 years ago | (#28887775)

All cell phone companies allow the caller to skip straight to the beep.
It is usually # or *.
Figure yours out.
Make your message something to the effect of:
"Hi, this is fred. I can't take your call now. Leave me a message. In the future, to skip straight to the beep, press X"
Most cell phone companies have a "fast prompt" setting for retrieving your messages. It isn't fast enough for a geek who is used to memorizing interactive prompts, but it is at least 50% faster than normal prompts. Turn yours on.

Re:Adjust your message! (1)

prockcore (543967) | more than 4 years ago | (#28888217)

Hi, this is fred. I can't take your call now. Leave me a message.

Since we're talking about shaving seconds... "I can't take your call now" is redundant.

"Leave Fred a message" is what I have for mine. I don't pretend to explain why I didn't answer the phone, I don't talk about a beep or anything, and I don't introduce myself because they're not actually talking to me. :)

try hitting the star (1)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 4 years ago | (#28887781)

or maybe it's the pound. Most carriers let you skip the message with that.

Re:try hitting the star (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#28887949)

On mine, * logs me into the voicemail (well, I have to enter the password) and # skips the greeting.

Also, TFA noted that some carriers allow you to press 1 to skip the greeting.

Re:try hitting the star (2, Funny)

T Murphy (1054674) | more than 4 years ago | (#28888007)

Just mash all the buttons to be sure. The worst that can happen is you beep back at the person for beeping at you. It'd serve them right anyways.

I'm creating a thread on t-mobile (1)

d3l33t (1106803) | more than 4 years ago | (#28887911)

Get to it people!!

Who is this still a problem for? (4, Insightful)

CaptainPatent (1087643) | more than 4 years ago | (#28887917)

I understand the concern of unnecessary use of a few seconds per phone call 5 or 10 years ago, but lately with the advent of VOIP I'd contend this concern has slowly been fading out.

Flashback to 1995 when cellphone bills and long distance calls were by the minute and rather expensive. Only landline local calls were exempt from by-minute charges, and phone companies had a lot of opportunities to increase revenue by lengthening phone calls just a little bit.

Compare that to today when most cellphone users have free night and weekend minutes plus anytime minutes, most landlines have free long distance and some users with unlimited cell plans are immune from these charges. The only people affected are those making international calls or using cellphones during the day while over their minutes. This is an increasingly small demographic.

Compound that with the fact that data is where most of the cellphone money is and you quickly see that keeping people connected via cell tower may prevent more business / data users from connecting who really have the high paying plans. It's actually in cellphone companies' best interest now to keep those lines as clear as possible to support good service to as many new / existing customers as possible instead of keeping the airwaves as busy as possible.

If you have one of the plans which makes you fit into the demographic affected by a 15 second delay, then I can understand your desire to shorten the time to when you can leave a message or leave none at all, but I personally am a fan of voice mail intros as it lets me know I didn't accidentally dial a wrong number. My advice for you is to learn the quick-keys on various carriers that bring you to the voice mailbox immediately (like # on T-mobile and Sprint.) I wouldn't disagree to going to a per-second billing like the EU did, but I promise you can take off your tinfoil hats - there is no conspiracy to make you use more minutes anymore and removing voice mailbox introductions would actually be removing something valuable for some people.

F*ck voicemail (1)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | more than 4 years ago | (#28887929)

I refuse to use it...either to leave it or receive it.

Re:F*ck voicemail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28888019)

We love you too.

Annoying (1)

tb2007 (1418641) | more than 4 years ago | (#28887943)

All I want to do is leave a message....that's it. The lady that gives me that 15 sec message doesn't even sound hot, waste of time!

Same goes for when I check my messages, I don't need that many instructions. They need to have an option to turn that off because there are people that need 2 minutes worth of instructions to check a 15 second voice mail, though I just want to get to my voicemail of my roommate yelling racial slurs at me.

"If you don't know what to do here..." (1)

orkybash (1013349) | more than 4 years ago | (#28887951)

Reminds me of one of my brother's best answering machine messages on his landline:

Hi, you're reached Bob. If you don't know what to do here, there's really no helping you. (BEEP!)

This, of course, would be ruined with a cell phone voicemail system...

Regardless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28888015)

I don't care if the companies are trying to catch us for 15seconds more or not. I think the automated messages are annoying as hell and should be optional, purely on the basis of being irritating.

Sort of competitive US cell market needs more reg (1)

swb (14022) | more than 4 years ago | (#28888041)

I don't know what regulator would do it (DOJ Anti-Trust or Commerce), but if the cell phone market is supposed to be competitive, regulators should jump all over the cell carriers when they all engage in the same practice billed at the same rate.

The carriers should be required to provide documentation supporting their pricing and if they all have a similar high margin for a given service (eg, over 20% or something) the regulator should find them "non-competitive" and order them all to cut their price to whatever is considered the minimum baseline margin.

Since a price cut to a specific margin from presumably 4 different cost structures would result 4 different and competitive prices, the market would once more be competitive, and those carriers with higher prices would be forced to cut their actual price to match the carrier whose price was lowest; raising prices would not be allowed for six months or something to prevent raising prices back their old rates right away.

For example, if all the carriers charged $0.20 a minute for SMS, and they submitted documentation showing 100-200% margins on them they would then be forced to cut their prices back to a 5% margin. But since each would have a different cost structure, the price they would be required to charge would be different (since one carrier's 5% margin price might be 2 cents versus anothers 4 cents). NOW you have competition again, as the higher priced carriers would scramble to match the lowest price.

There's no way you can call competitive a market that ends up pricing a good or service at the same price with a massive markup for all of them.

Re:Sort of competitive US cell market needs more r (2, Informative)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 4 years ago | (#28888127)

Huh? That's incoherent. If four companies each charge the same for a message and they have identical margins, then their cost is the same. A lower uniforn margin applied to the same cost will result in a uniform price. Also, if you were to try that, companies would just doctor their margin figures to support a higher price.

The Sherman Antitrust Act [wikipedia.org] already has a remedy for price fixing: the act made it a felony. All we need to do is enforce this 1898 piece of legislation.

You guys pay for that? (1)

Leafheart (1120885) | more than 4 years ago | (#28888065)

Here in Brazil we have a ~7sec message about voicemail, but you only start PAYing after the message is over and you get the actually voicemail.

Sprint lets you turn this off (3, Informative)

pdragon04 (801577) | more than 4 years ago | (#28888141)

I hadn't even realized it until I was bored one time when I was checking my voicemail. I went through the other options to see what was available and one of them was to turn off these pre-recorded caller instructions that he's complaining about.

Maybe people just need to check what options their voicemail provides them instead of jumping to drastic measures like this? Wait... I forgot who I'm talking to here...

Long long, bilingual voicemail messages... (1)

myowntrueself (607117) | more than 4 years ago | (#28888143)

I once worked with a guy whose incredibly verbose "please leave a detailed message" message ran to about 45 seconds. In English. It was then followed by about a MINUTE of Spanish.

THEN, only AFTER you had listened to all this, could you actually leave him a message...

Needless to say, I never bothered leaving him any message at all.

My voicemail message just says "please leave a BRIEF message".

Simple solution (1)

eht (8912) | more than 4 years ago | (#28888181)

Turn off voice mail.

I have no land line, no answering machine, just a cellphone and the voice mail on it has never been enabled.

I don't think I am missing much.

Cancel voicemail (0)

Spazmania (174582) | more than 4 years ago | (#28888199)

I'd be happy if I could just cancel my cell phone voicemail entirely and have it keep ringing until I answer or the caller gives up like a normal phone does.

Switched buttons (1)

Pincus (744497) | more than 4 years ago | (#28888215)

I hit 1 when I get voice mail to get to the beep. Rarely works. One friend is kind enough to say press star at the beginning of her message. On another's I need to press 3, and 1 disconnects me. I'd write more, but the point is brevity. Or at least standardization.

already fixed in my country (1)

robmv (855035) | more than 4 years ago | (#28888221)

In my country, telcos where forced by new legislation to put a message and a beep before being redirected to the real voicemail system, the message must tell the caller that he/she will not be charged before they are redirected. This was the solution to their trick to send a lot of calls to the voicemail recorder in order to always collect payment from the caller, now if for some reason the system is not able to reach the person you are calling, you will not be charged unless you really want to leave a message

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