Man fights to change cell phone messages


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New York Times columnist David Pogue is ticked off about cell phone companies and voice mail messages.

"These cell phone companies are holding s hostage 15 seconds at a time," said Pogue.

He is talking about cell phone companies and voice mail messages.

"Not the 'Hi it's David', but the instructions after that about, 'to page the person press one. When you have finished your recording you can hang up.' no kidding," said Pogue.

You've heard them before, and here is a typical message from a company. This one is from Verizon:

"At the tone please record your message. When you are finished recording you may hang up. For a call back number press five," said the recording.

"I think it's made for dummies, for people who have never called somebody's voice message before," said Monica Hirning from San Francisco.

A credible explanation, but Pogue isn't so generous.

"I heard it is all just a scheme to get more air time used up," he said.

Wait. It is done on purpose? So they can make more money? Pogue says business insiders have admitted it to him.

"If you add up all those 15 seconds among all the United States customers for the four big carriers, it is over $1 billion. It is big money," he said.

The cell phone customers I spoke with had thought of the messages as a time waster, but hadn't figured in the money angle before now.

"Cause a few seconds here and there really adds up for them, right?" said Marcy Betlach from San Jose.

"I can't believe it. That's terrible," said Maneurva Quilala.

"It does make since from a business point of view from the phone company, but I don't think it is very ethical," said Francisco Lira.

And that's why Pogue is on a mission. He is complaining to the phone companies and he wants the messages shortened.

He wants you to complain too.

"This little annoyance, this amount of money and time we waste I think we can fix," said Pogue.

"I've written up the instructions for each of the four carriers on where to complain where to send your messages."

Sprint already allows customers to drop the message, AT&T says there will be changes, T-Mobile says this issue has its attention and Verizon told 7 On Your Side its voice mail system has a lot of options which can be customized.

Related links: Pogue's Posts

All of the messages can be bypassed with a key stroke and Pogue's column lists which key works for each company.

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