Cancelling voicemail feature on verizon
June 2, 2008 12:31 PM   Subscribe

I am a verizon cell phone customer and just got rid of our landline. We are a family of 5. Three teens. I hate getting voicemail. Should I cancel this feature on my cellphone? Do any of you run your life just fine without voicemail? My kids all text me. For example, a friend just called me and left a message to call her back. I do not want to call her back! If I did not have voicemail I would not be obliged to call her. I know it sounds like I am mean but I just hate the phone. Any ideas?
posted by seekingsimplicity to Technology (25 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Keep the voicemail. If one of your teens (or you) ever applies for a job (for example), you'll be glad you kept it.

And... if you don't want to call back your friend, don't do it.
posted by Zephyrial at 12:36 PM on June 2, 2008

Have the outgoing message state that you do not pick up or respond to voice mail, with something like "please send me a text message or try again later." Then, don't respond to voice mail, in fact delete it without listening (if you respond because some idiot just doesn't believe you, you'll be reinforcing the wrong behavior).
posted by nax at 12:36 PM on June 2, 2008 [2 favorites]

i also find voicemail to be horribly annoying. i, personally would be fine without voicemail. however, there are certain interactions that won't work via text or email (such as dr. appt reminders if the office only calls to remind you).

frankly, you're still not obliged to call the woman back...
posted by misanthropicsarah at 12:37 PM on June 2, 2008

The only time I get voicemails are from elderly relatives who would think their phone was hacked and their social security numbers stolen if I were to send them a text message or IM their computer.

If you have no one in your life like that, ditch the voicemail. Anything important can be e-mailed, etc.

However, just because someone leaves you a voice mail does not obligate you to call them back. If you do call them back, it's your fault not theirs :)
posted by arniec at 12:37 PM on June 2, 2008

I know a few people who don't have voicemail. It's annoying, but much better than having it and ignoring the messages, which is what some people do, leaving callers to assume they've successfully passed on crucial information.

That said, you're no more or less obliged to call her back with or without voicemail. Your phone will still tell you that you have a missed call; people will still text you and say "Give me a call when you get a chance, it's important." If you don't want to call your friend back, don't do it. Having or not having a given phone option isn't going to add or subtract 'obligations' except in your own head.
posted by Tomorrowful at 12:38 PM on June 2, 2008

Well, if you're expecting an "important" phone call (work-related, test results from the doctor..) voicemail is very useful. Just don't listen to/ respond to any of the other crap that you don't want to.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 12:41 PM on June 2, 2008

I absolutely detest the phone, and have been known to go for weeks without checking my voicemail. My friends are used to hearing me say "yeah, I didn't check my voicemail, you should have emailed me!" However, as those above have mentioned, it's good to have just in case, and you can set your message to state that you don't respond to voicemail. I need to try that, come to think of it...
posted by CrazyGabby at 12:46 PM on June 2, 2008

Keep the voicemail. What if something happens -- say, one of your teens is in an accident, or even just becomes ill suddenly and needs a trip to the ER. The Authorities are going to want to contact you.

Its fine to change your outgoing message to something like "You're welcome to leave a message but be aware that I probably won't call you back". But keep the voicemail. You just never know.....
posted by anastasiav at 12:54 PM on June 2, 2008

I wouldn't lose the voicemail -- when you want it, you really want it. Ditto everyone about having a message that says, e.g., "Be warned: I hate voicemail and rarely check my messages. Email me if it's important."

And just callously disregard your friend's instruction to call her back and email her back, instead.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 1:01 PM on June 2, 2008

In what seems like another life, I worked for years in an assortment of call centers. This has ruined phone conversations and voicemail for me.

I'm cell only, but I didn't get rid of voicemail. My message states "only urgent messages involving fire, blood or death will be returned. For all other matters, please send a text message or call back."

That may sound strange, but when I was growing up and my parents decided to take a temporary break from their four crazy boys and went out, we got the numbers of everywhere they were headed - along with strict instruction not to call unless there was fire, blood or death. This was also the rule that governed whether you could wake mom up from one of her occasional naps.

Of course, this message is occasionally (inexplicably) wiped clear from AT&Ts voicemail system, only to be replaced with their default voicemail message.
posted by terpia at 1:06 PM on June 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

Bear in mind that not everyone who can call you can also send you SMS. There are still some people out there using landline phones. I do have a cellphone, but dislike SMS almost as much as you apparently hate voicemail.

So you're not under any obligation to use your voicemail, but you also don't seem to make allowance for the fact that different people may have different tastes or technology than you do.

You don't say that you hate talking on the phone in general, but you imply it. Here's the thing: having a phone implies a willingness to talk on it. If you give me your phone number, don't take offense if I call. If you don't answer, don't take offense if I leave a message, and don't take offense if I prefer to leave a message rather than hang up and laboriously tap out an SMS. If I leave a message with important information that you don't bother to check, don't take offense if I take action in your absence that may be detrimental to you.
posted by adamrice at 1:11 PM on June 2, 2008 [3 favorites]

For example, a friend just called me and left a message to call her back. I do not want to call her back! If I did not have voicemail I would not be obliged to call her.

What obliges you to call her back is not voicemail, but that you're her friend.
posted by box at 1:14 PM on June 2, 2008 [8 favorites]

What about the iPhone option? I know you say you're a Verizon customer but if you're not under contract, iPhone revolutionizes Voice Mail by delivering it to you in an "e-mail inbox" type manner. You see who left the messages, choose which to listen to and which to delete unread, in seconds (just like deleting spam from e-mail) vs. having to wait for

"New call from 2-1-2-5-5-5-9-0-0-8 left 8 oh-two a.m. Friday, March 21st. 40 seconds" etc etc etc
posted by arniec at 1:15 PM on June 2, 2008

So I don't really understand. Do you hate talking to people on the phone or do you just hate listening to your voicemail? Do you never answer your phone? If you seriously don't want to talk to people, don't give them your phone number but if you do give them your phone number, one would expect that you actually want to talk to them and so if they called, and you didn't answer, why would you not want to know? I guess the suggestion to leave a voicemail message telling people you would prefer that they not leave you voicemail but they they text/email you is a marginal solution, but it's putting an unfair burden on people that want to contact you.

What about people that can't email/text message you? if you don't want to call your friend back, is this really a friend?

I also hope that you never leave voicemail messages for anyone else because that's just not fair.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 1:25 PM on June 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

I hate voicemail. I have a teenager and only a cel phone. I keep voicemail for all the reasons everyone above has cited but my outgoing message clearly says, "Look, I don't listen to voicemail. It may be weeks before I get this message. If you really need to speak to me, try calling back repeatedly or email or text message me." I feel that this is all I really need to do: they've been warned and won't be surprised when they don't get a call back. My friends have long since stopped leaving me messages; they just hang up and voila, my phone tells me I've missed a call and so I call them back. Everyone is happy and I can still get half garbled messages from the school robot phone telling me they got out early two Wednesdays ago.
posted by mygothlaundry at 1:47 PM on June 2, 2008

I do not use voicemail. My cell phone when it reaches the voicemail says that the user has not set up vm. I do use Grand Central which will ring me on multiple phones and I can set to only take a voice mail from specific callers. For example, my kid's school number can leave a voice mail which I get emailed to me. I never listen, I just know to call the school.

My home line has an external voicemail answering machine, but I have spent the last 20 years not using it and training all that know me that it is a waste of time to leave me a message. My general theory is that if they want me badly enough, they will call back. (Admittedly, I do check the caller ID occasionally to see who called.)

The point was made repeatedly upthread, but you have NO obligation to call back someone who says to call me back. A left message is no more an obligation than an email requires a reply.

I also hope that you never leave voicemail messages for anyone else because that's just not fair.

This is absurd. If someone wants to have people leave them messages why not leave one? What does me not using a voicemail have to do with it?
posted by JohnnyGunn at 2:34 PM on June 2, 2008

This is a self canceling feature.
"Seekingsimplicity's voice mailbox is full."
posted by caddis at 2:35 PM on June 2, 2008

My loathing for voicemail cannot be overestimated. I really do not need one ... more ... place to check for what are always trivial messages. Postal mail, home email, work email, work voicemail, cell phone number ... c'mon, people. Voicemail is yet another way for people with neither patience nor proportion to yank your chain so they can get! things! right! now!

I didn't even configure mine, so anyone who calls gets the "the voicemail for this subscriber has not been set up" default message. I have no urge to scurry towards my electronic leash every time I return from the bathroom, from taking the trash out, etc. Unless you're a brain surgeon, nuclear plant safety engineer, etc., it's just not that critical. Bosses may attempt to pressure you to set up voicemail - if they aren't paying for the feature, too bad.

Thus far, I have had no fires, nobody has lost an eye, and I didn't miss out on winning lottery tickets. My CallerID does not list any messages from Eliza Dushku asking for a date. People with teenagers survived without phones at all, for centuries, much less cellphones and voicemail.

Blow that "feature" away.
posted by adipocere at 2:44 PM on June 2, 2008

I loathed voicemail for ages, and used let voice messages pile up for weeks. Now I use a service called Callwave, which transcribes voice messages and sends them via both sms and email, the two inboxes I actually regularly check. There are a number of other online services that do the same thing.

I used Callwave because I had a free trial, but I think the others are more or less comparable and cost $5-15 a month. It's certainly solved my problem while allowing me to keep the minor benefits of a voicemail inbox.
posted by ecmendenhall at 4:34 PM on June 2, 2008

Damn, that sounds like an ad. IANA corporate shill.
posted by ecmendenhall at 8:23 PM on June 2, 2008

I hate voicemail. Haaaaaate it. I haven't ditched it yet but I've let everyone I know to only leave me a voicemail if they really, really have to.
posted by thebrokenmuse at 10:22 PM on June 2, 2008

I completely agree with otherworldlyglow. When I leave my friend a voicemail and she doesn't feel like calling me back, she just texts me. So email or text your "friend."
posted by IndigoRain at 12:41 AM on June 3, 2008

I too hate voicemail, but have to have it on my work cell phone. My solution is to say in my VM greeting that I don't regularly check my VM messages and if you need to get in touch with me urgently, email me or text message me instead. (Now that I have the iPhone for work though, I rarely have this problem because I can just delete the messages I don't want to listen to and get to the one occasional message I'm willing to listen to.)
posted by batcrazy at 6:41 AM on June 3, 2008

Keep the voicemail -- or don't. I've found that good friends will call again, and everyone else won't. And if it's really important, they'll keep trying til you pick up. (Then again, so will salespeople, collection agencies, and robocalls.)

Pease forgive the slight derail, but let me be Chicken Little and recommend you rethink getting rid of your landline, especially with kids in the house. In some parts of the US, 911 (emergency) calls made on a cell go to a different agency than on a land line -- and use a cell-based system for locating you, rather than your street address. For example: In L.A., 911 calls on cell phones go to the CA Highway Patrol, which is notorious for putting callers on hold. Whereas 911 from a landline is relayed to the local police/fire immediately.
posted by turducken at 1:25 PM on June 3, 2008

I hate voicemail, and instead use to get them transcribed as emails. Their transcriptions are often hilariously innacurate, but they send you an MP3 attachment with the email. A nice side effect is that this lets me keep a permanent record of all voicemails I receive.
posted by lsemel at 8:06 PM on June 3, 2008

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