One of the many modern ‘conveniences’ that actually take more time than they save is voicemail. Answering machines and voicemail are occasionally useful, but more often than not, someone just leaves a rambling message with details they end up repeating when you call them back. Fortunately, Caller ID has mostly eliminated the need for voicemail: if you need to leave a message, I probably need to return your call. Since visual voicemail hasn’t yet been universally adopted—and some people still leave voicemails—I sometimes have to check my voicemail account. This has allowed phone companies to waste tons of customer time by forcing us to listen to long instructions describing voicemail. There are no obvious ways to avoid this wasted time. Thanks to David Pogue, I learned the non-obvious way, “1 * #”. If you are leaving a voice mail, one of those will probably get you out of listening to the pointless 30 second message.
You can look in the voicemail help for your carrier to find the correct code for your own voicemail.
- T-Mobile: VoiceMail Shortcuts
- Verizon: Voice Mail Instructions; different instructions depending on your region
- AT&T: Voicemail Quickguide
- Sprint: gave up on search; different instructions by phone