I've been a Verizon Wireless customer for many years. I like them a lot and don't understand why anyone (in the US) would use any other carrier. But, there is one thing that bugs the crap out of me - the so called "Robo-Gal" that insists on wasting the time of people that want to leave me a voice message.
My outgoing voice mail message is quick, concise, and to the point (concision is a virtue.) "Hi, you've reached Andrew. Please leave a message at the tone." It takes about 3 seconds, at which point the caller should hear "beep!" Unfortunately, they don't - they hear Robo-Gal (should be "Robo-Gall".) She then tells the listener "At the tone, please record your message. When you've finished recording you may hang up, or, press 1 for more options. To send a fax, press pound. To leave a callback number, press five." Then, finally, the beep. Whew.
Robo-Gal's completely unnecessary message takes about 5 times as long as my greeting, and there is no option to turn her off. I say "unnecessary," because, really, I don't want you to send a fax to my cell phone. Who sends faxes anymore anyway? I have a smart phone - send me an email! Geesh. "Leave a call-back number?" You mean take a giant leap back to the early 1990's when people had pagers? (Can you still buy a pager even if you want one?) Press "1" for more options? What options? Sending your message with "high priority?" Don't bother - if I like you I will listen to your message regardless of its priority. If I don't like you, I wont. Nuff said.
Fortunately, I have discovered 2 tricks to make things better, and I pass them on to you now. [Thanks to Elko Wireless for pointing me in the right direction.]
Trick #1 - For people who call any Verizon Wireless customer, at any point in the outgoing message, either the "real" greeting, or Robo-Gal, you can just press "*" to skip to the beep. This works regardless of whether you are calling from a land line or a cell phone, and regardless of your carrier. (You can find a list of the "skip" keys for all carriers in the New York Time's article Cutting Through Voicemail Greetings.)
Trick #2 - For people who have Verizon Wireless service and want to decrease the amount of time Robo-Gal spends annoying their callers, you can turn off the options to accept faxes and "callback numbers." With these turned off, Robo-Gal wont include them in her message, thus cutting the time in half. If you call Verizon customer support, they wont tell you about this - I assume that the average Verizon support associate doesn't even know about it. The steps are buried deep in the Verizon voicemail options. I am including the option numbers here, though I have no doubt Verizon changes this stuff with some frequency. Your mileage may vary.
- Call your voice mail and log in
- You can listen to any messages you may have, or not. Up to you.
- Press 4 to change your "personal options"
- Press 2 to change "administrative options"
- Turn off the option of receiving faxes:
- Press 3 to "establish or change" fax options
- Press 3 to turn fax options on or off
- Press 1 to turn the fax option on or off
- Press 2 to turn faxes off (geesh!)
- Press * to exit
- Next, turn "callback numbers" off:
- Press 1 to "change general options"
- Press 7 to turn the callback number feature or prompt off
- Press 1 to turn the feature on or off
- Press 1 to turn the feature off
- Press 2 to actually turn the feature off
- Press * repeatedly to exit.
After all that rigmarole, the fax and callback features will be disabled and you're callers wont have to wait through that part of the message. Whew.
PS: I recommend calling Verizon and asking them to change it so that Robo-Gal is an option. Maybe if they hear it from enough people they'll do something about it (like The New York Times wasn't enough.)