I didn’t bother activating voicemail when I changed my phone.
When I did have voicemail, because it came activated and there was seemingly no way of switching it off, I never used to listen to it. I just occasionally went in and deleted all the messages without listening to them.
I had grown tired of the sorts of messages you normally find your voicemail:
- A few seconds of silence, followed by the phone being put down.
- Long, waffly, monologues of messages, where the caller actually tries to have the conversation they want to have with you, without you being present.
- Messages that are, plain and simple, not for you, but the caller leaves a message anyway, just in case.
- Ear-splitting background or wind noise such that you can’t hear who’s calling, what the message is about, or what number to call them back on.
- People nagging you for something you have no intention of doing any time this decade.
- Salesmen trying to sell you something.
- Drunken pocket dials, where you get about 3 minutes of the sound of a bar or club in the background.
That’s why I conclude that voicemail is a write-only medium.
Even if you’re a conscientious type who picks up their voicemail and returns the calls, you’re likely to end up wasting time playing voicemail tag.
So when I got the opportunity to not switch my voicemail on, the decision was easy.
I figure that people who need to get hold of me will:
- Call back sometime and actually have the conversation they meant to have when I’m actually listening and they have my attention.
- Send me an email rather than the waffly message.
- Send me a SMS or WhatsApp if it’s just a quick “attention grab” that they need.
- Have left a caller ID I recognise so I can just call them back when I see the missed call.
The cynic in me also thinks that voicemail is a clever ploy by the phone companies to part us from yet more of our hard-earned wonga:
- The caller has to pay for what is effectively an unsuccessful call. Rather than the phone ringing out because it’s not been picked up, it’s automatically picked up after a few rings, and the clock starts for the caller.
- This is especially bad when calling ladies who can lose their phone in the depths of their bottomless handbag. Never in a month of Sundays are they are going to be able to fish it out and answer it before it goes to voicemail. I know this from experience.
- Should you be foolish enough to actually go and collect your voicemail messages, you’re generally charged for the privilege of doing it.
So, there you have it. Why voicemail is a write-only medium, and doesn’t really serve a purpose anymore.