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I Hate Your Voicemail

In this age of texting and email, amswering machines seem to be going the way of the 8-track and Betamax. Some communication, however, still takes place over the phone, and whether it’s on a land line or a cell phone, sometimes you just have to leave a message. As anyone who has to make phone calls and leave messages in the course of doing their job can tell you, most people’s outgoing voicemail messages are pretty infuriating.

You probably have no idea how annoying your outgoing voicemail greeting is. Or you do, and just don’t care. Either way, I can pretty much guarantee that, from the perspective of someone who makes often hundreds of phone calls a day, your voicemail is just awful. And here’s why:

  • You have a “ringback.” When someone calls your cell phone, an automated voice tells them to “Please enjoy the music while [their] party is being reached.” Then, music of your choice is played in their ear. Here’s the thing: no matter what you’ve chosen, it sucks. It’s a terrible song, played on a terrible half-a-chorus loop, and it makes me want to gouge my own ears out.
  • Your outgoing message is forty minutes long. Listen, it’s voicemail. Everyone knows how it works. “This is [name], please leave a message,” is perfectly adequate. As opposed to this: “Hello, you’ve reached the Jones family, and this is our answering machine! We’re too busy to take your call, or we don’t want to talk to you! {chuckles} If you’d like to leave a message for John, Joan, Jack, Jenny, or Spot, please leave your name, phone number, time you called, and message, and we’ll try to get back to you as soon as possible. If you are a telemarketer or are trying to sell us anything, please remove this number from your dialing list and never call again, or we will seek action under the Federal Do Not Call List. For everyone else, we’ll call you back! Have a nice day! Bye!” So. Unbelievably. Unnecessary.
  • You let your barely verbal child leave the message. “Burble burble mehmeh ggllllggguh BAH BAH BAH BAH Jones fammy weev meffige BYYYYYYEEEE.” This is cute to no one but you. I promise you that.
  • Your voicemail doesn’t pick up until ten rings in. OH MY GOD DO YOU KNOW HOW LONG THAT IS WHEN I HAVE TO MAKE FOUR THOUSAND MILLION PHONE CALLS?
  • Each person in the family shouts their name into the phone, in succession. Too many voices. Too much volume. Let’s just keep the shouting to a minimum all around; can we do that, please?
  • This one is not your fault, but it’s still unbearably annoying. This one is entirely on the cell phone providers. The neverending menu of choices after your outgoing message has ended is just ridiculous. No one ever presses 5 to leave a callback number. No one ever sends a numeric page. No one ever needs to do anything except leave a message, so just cut the shit, cellphone companies, all right?

Now, I think it’s only fair that I tell you what a good voicemail greeting is. As far as I’m concerned, you have two choices, really:

  1. The aforementioned, “This is [name], please leave a message.” Short, straightforward, and to the point. Simplicity is key here.
  2. The robot voice. I love the robot voice. We’re close friends. The robot voice tells me your phone number, and tells me you’re unavailable, then lets me do my thing. The robot voice doesn’t think it’s funny or clever. The robot voice doesn’t try to impress me. It’s simple, direct, and easy to understand. It doesn’t waste my time. We should all aspire to be more like the robot voice.

(A slightly more profane version of this post appeared at Nice Girls Don’t Swear.)

By [E] Rachel

I punctuate sentences with Oxford commas, and I punctuate disagreements with changesocks. Proud curmudgeon. Get off my lawn.

22 replies on “I Hate Your Voicemail”

I don’t mind the phone ringing a couple of times before the voicemail answers. On the contrary. I have a friend who has an answering machine that will go off after two rings. That guy is just a lazy and I know he will not bother going to his phone before he hears it ringing over and over. He just waits for me to wait through his annoying message (it is …avantgarde) and talk to his stupid machine and THEN he picks up the phone when he deems it important enough to answer. That would be ok, only when he is NOT there, I still talk to his answering machine like:” Hey, are you around there, it’s me, pick up you lazy slob”. In vain.

As for your parents, pileofmonkeys: There is an option that allows you to assign a special ringback to a special caller number. So you could just put a message there for their specific numbersaying: “Hi Mom and Dad, it IS me, your son Pileofmonkeys, please leave a message.”

If you hate voicemail like I hate voicemail, then you need google voice. Voicemails as messages in your email. No more checking, no more procrastinating, no more having to fool with calling back or marking messages as “urgent”. Its changed my life, I recommend it for everyone.

I haaaaate voicemail. I don’t mind leaving them, but maybe it’s just because everyone I know who actually still leaves voicemail is ridiculously inefficient about it and leaves a 3 minute voicemail that sums up to “call me back.”

Have I ever mentioned how much I dislike talking on the phone? Yeah – it kind of borders on a phobia…. Everyone goes to Voice mail (unless work is calling OR it is my work phone ringing)

I think one of the worst voicemail/answering machine messages is usually the JERK who records “Hello”, DEAD SILENCE and then the rest of the f^&cking recording. Really, it isn’t funny. Really.

Since we’re sharing messages, mine goes, “Hi, you’ve reached [firstname] at [number]. Please leave a message, and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible. Thanks.”

I agree with what others have said about the robot voice is that you don’t know if you’ve misdialed (a possibility if you’re making a dozen calls in a row) or if the person’s number has changed or whatever. I like hearing a name so I’ve gotten it right.

My brother has a ringback, but half the time he’s too broke to pay the fee. So sometimes you get a horrible pop country song, and sometimes you get the same five-second clip of some classical music song that is probably very lovely when not played on the tinny speakers of a cell phone, but I can’t even identify what it is, it’s such a short clip.

The one thing I don’t like about robot voice is when I’m calling a number for the first time, it doesn’t tell me who I’m calling so I’m not sure whether I actually reached the person I wanted.

My parents have a robot for their land line answering machine. They never bothered to record one because I refused to record it because I thought it was silly since I hadn’t lived at home for 4 or 5 years at the point.

My voicemail goes like this, ” You have reached [full name]. Please leave your name and number and I will get back to you as soon as possible. Thank you.”

The robot voice will usually either say the number or give you the option of saying your name. Just your name. That’s cool.

I have the robot voice, and a certain parent of mine ALWAYS starts messages with, “I hope this is [PoM]’s phone. I’m not sure it’s you, but if it is…” I mean, seriously. I’m on your speed dial and I’ve had the number for 11 years. You know it’s me.

I like the robot voice with a name; I don’t like it with a number. I’ll often have to call parents and even though I know that I have dialed the correct number I don’t know if it’s actually them because they change their numbers so often. Also, sometimes it’s difficult to read the handwritten phone numbers and I don’t know if it’s the correct number or not.

/my 2 cents.

I HATE checking my voicemail. I don’t know why it makes me so ragey, but seeing the flashing red light on my work phone or the little voicemail icon on my cell makes me want to punch someone. Also? When someone leaves a message that says “Hey, it’s me, call me back.” Dude, I have caller ID, it’s a damn cell phone, I see I missed a call from you, I didn’t need to check my voicemail to get the same damn message. Maybe I should look into getting some real issues…

YES, seriously! It’s almost always quicker – at work or not -for someone to email or text me than it is for them to leave a voicemail. If I’m not able to answer the phone, I’m also not able to check my voicemail.

This may have something to do with the fact that it’s usually my mother leaving me voicemails…

My personal phone is Robot Voice, but instead of my phone number it let me say my name.

My work voicemail is a little bit more tricky, because I have to include that I am a summer student and the call center number if I don’t want to end up with a bunch of people angry about their accounts that I have nothing to do with leaving me agitated messages.

Oh, ringbacks! I have never come across one of those (I don’t get out much) but they sound hideous. We all really should try to be more like the robot voice… Still, as something of a phone phobic, I have to say, if all my phone calls consisted of someone calling my voicemail and vice versa, I would be very happy.

I am proud to have the “this is scarletwine, leave a message.” I recorded it over and over again to make sure I pressed the # sign milliseconds after the last syllable because it’s so disappointing to hear someone someone use the quick 6 word message and then spend 30 seconds afterward fumbling around with the phone, pressing random keys. I also did mine in a quiet room, because half my friends sound like they recorded theirs while in a wind tunnel. Or a tin can. Maybe at a construction site. I can’t quite tell, but the WHOOSH-BAM-WAAAHH-WHOOSSSHH” background noise is horrible.

However, all that effort is a total waste because I hate listening to voicemail messages. If I see a missed call; I just call them back. And then I make them repeat whatever it was that they said on the voicemail. Because I’m only really polite and thoughtful about half the time.

HAHA! I so agree and SO hate talking on the phone! One thing on your cell phone though…..go to your voicemail settings and you can actually take off all of that extra nonsense on the end. That crap pisses me off to no end. I had to take it off hubby’s phone because I was so sick of hearing it!!

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