TELESCOPE, n. A device having a relation to the eye similar to that of the telephone to the ear, enabling distant objects to plague us with a multitude of needless details. Luckily it is unprovided with a bell summoning us to the sacrifice. — The Devil’s Dictionary, Ambrose Bierce
I was stranded in voice-mail hell the other day, navigating the ninth circle of my telephone company’s special torture they reserve only for their best paying customers. “Choose one to be further irritated. Press two if you enjoy having your time wasted. Press three if your want to enter your account information for the fourth time.”
Many voice-mail systems have an escape, including personal systems. Many companies, especially the large ones, have discovered that customers don’t like talking to machines and have disabled this feature. So banging on the zero key multiple times isn’t guaranteed to get you a live person anymore, but it’s still often worth the effort.
Some voice carriers who especially love their customers and the people trying to call them will then add more gibberish to the end of your personal voice-mail greeting, giving you further instructions on how to leave a message. This is usually unnecessary, redundant, and irritating. Most people who know how to use a phone know what voice mail is. I remember when it was a big deal back in the 70′s when our house got its first answering machine. It had little cassette tapes an everything. It was very cool and mechanical. Just like my dad’s teletype machine. Yes, we had a teletype in our house. It was an interesting childhood.
You can short-cut greetings by pressing a certain key to take you straight to the beep. What that key is will depend on your carrier. You’re going to have to do some research on your own to figure out what the magic button is for you. For Rogers in Canada, it’s “*” or star. The “#” (called hash or pound) will get you into your voice mail. If you’re not with Rogers in Canada, use Google to search for “skip [carrier name] voicemail greeting” and you you’ll find yours.
Tell your callers up front what it in your own voice-mail greeting, like this: “Hi, you’ve reached Bernie’s voice-mail. Please press star to skip over this greeting. [pause] I can’t answer the phone right now, etc.”
Easy, right? I’ll appreciate you even more the next time I get your voice-mail and you tell me how to get to the beep.