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"Take Back the Beep" Voicemail Crusade Takes Back Its First Beeps

Illustration for article titled Take Back the Beep Voicemail Crusade Takes Back Its First Beeps

Who knew David Pogue's consumer insurrection against scummy, minute-hoarding voicemail messages would actually work? Sir David would like to report that most major carriers have at least responded to the campaign, and AT&T is cutting down on message length.

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The collected responses provide an interesting glimpse of how each carrier deals with problems, and its customers. Pogue's results:

• AT&T is "actively exploring" how to make its messages shorter, and says that visual voicemail, which will make this issue moot in a few years anyway, is a priority.

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• T-Mobile says the issue has their "attention," which is either a promising acknowledgment, or just a statement of an incredibly obvious fact.

• Sprint rightly reminds us that you can turn off extended messages on their service already, and explains how. Thanks, Sprint.

• Verizon would very much like David Pogue to shut his stupid face, please, because he said mean things about them on TV Twitter. Everyone else was cool!

You can read the full carrier responses here, but there are two main takeaways here: the campaign is actually working, so, you know, good job everyone; and it's clearly not over yet, until AT&T follows through, T-Mobile clarifies what their "attention" is worth, and Verizon cools down a little bit. A reminder:

Verizon: Post a complaint here.
AT&T: Send e-mail to Mark Siegel, executive director of media relations.
Sprint: Post a complaint here.
T-Mobile: Post a complaint here.

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Happy polite haranguing, people! [Bits]

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DISCUSSION

You know, I want to be sympathetic to Pogue's objective but the truth is that Verizon is right...more people rely on those messages than he thinks. I write user documentation for a living, and over the past few years especially, I've continually had to adjust my assumptions downward over and over about what people can intuitively understand. If you can't show someone a picture, you have to be very specific and very descriptive, and I've seen grown, intelligent adults freeze up looking at simple web interfaces if someone's not telling them exactly what to do.