I love when individuals go on a crusade. It's nice to know that, regardless of how large the US wireless carriers are, people still remember that their business is what keeps the aforementioned companies afloat. In his column today, The New York Times columnist David Pogue wrote about something that, until this very second, I hadn't given a great deal of thought to: the short, carrier recorded message that plays just after a user's voicemail. They vary from carrier to carrier:
Sprint: ?[Phone number] is not available right now. Please leave a
detailed message after the tone. When you have finished recording, you
may hang up, or press pound for more options.? (Note: You can remove Sprint's through a tedious, multi-step process)
Verizon: ?At the tone, please record your message. When you have
finished recording, you may hang up, or press 1 for more options. To
leave a callback number, press 5. (Beep)?
AT&T: ?To page this person, press five now. At the tone,
please record your message. When you are finished, you may hang up, or
press one for more options.? (Exception: iPhone users - and their callers - don't have to suffer through the recording)
T-Mobile: ?Record your message after the tone. To send a numeric
page, press five. When you are finished recording, hang up, or for
delivery options, press pound.?
Needless to say, in 2009, I'm fairly confident that we all know how to leave a voicemail message. If I wanted your callback number, I would look at my screen. We know to talk after the beep, and I would venture to postulate that no one actually pages anymore. For the five or so people nationwide that still utilize the antiquated technology, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the 80's called, and they want their pagers back.
Admittedly, when I read Pogue's opening paragraph, it seemed like a trivial issue, but when the numbers are crunched, it is far from it. On average, you spend three hours of your hard-earned time each year listening to the same useless recording. Take a carrier like Verizon, for example. If 70 million of its customers were to call voicemail twice a day during the business week, that little 15 second message nets Verizon $620 million yearly. With numbers like that, it starts to sound a bit less like an instructional courtesy and more like a money making scheme, now doesn't it? The best part is that the carriers don't even bother to hide their intentions; when pressed, the companies actually admitted to Pogue that the voicemail recording was maintained for the sole purpose of increasing ARPU (Average Revenue Per User). Yes, you read it right, the wireless carriers keep the recording so you stay on the phone longer, thus using more minutes!
So, what are we going to do about it? Complain en masse, of course! David let the carriers know we would be complaining, and they gave him the following contact information:
Verizon: Post a complaint here: http://bit.ly/FJncH.
AT&T: Mark Siegel, Executive Director of Media Relations: MS8460@att.com.
Sprint: Post a complaint here: http://bit.ly/9CmrZ
T-Mobile: Post a complaint here: http://bit.ly/2rKy0u
I spent a few minutes yesterday criticizing AT&T for certain business practices, so I'll be fair here - kudos to them for being the only carrier willing to take the time to actually listen to their customers, versus the other three routing us to their general inquiry sections (read: an endless inbox where your e-frustrations will more than likely never be answered). That aside, it's all about volume; the more people that complain, the higher the chance that the issue will be addressed.
David, I'm with you - $620 million of our hard-earned cash going to a redundant recording is unacceptable. Anyone else agree? It's time to Take Back the Beep!
Source: Pogue's Posts Blog