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Voicemail Hit and Run

Friday 6 February, 2004, 11:58 AM

Yay!

For years, something has really bugged me about the voicemail service I get with my mobile phone. (That's 'cellphone' if you're reading this from the far side of the Atlantic.) You only get to find out that people have tried to contact you if they bother to leave a message. And I know lots of people who hate leaving messages. The reason this bugs me is that there's no good reason for that information not to be available. After all, if I leave my phone at home but switched on, I get a complete list of who tried to call me when and how many times. (Well, OK, caller ID is sufficiently busted in the UK that only about 2/3 of the calls actually identify themselves, but at least I get some idea of who has been trying to contact me.) Inevitably, the number of voicemails is some small fraction of the number of calls.

So the information is clearly there - if my phone can report it to me when I get home, why not my voicemail service on the occasions where my phone was off, rather than merely elsewhere?

So I was delighted this morning when I eventually remembered to switch my phone on. I received an SMS (or text message if you prefer; or, txt msg if you are young, I gather). It was from from my voicemail service telling me that someone had called without leaving a message, along with their phone number, and the time that they called. Just what I would have got if my phone had been on but I failed to answer! Yay!

Well, almost yay!. The one thing that worries me is the opening sentence of the SMS. It began:

Free missed call alert from Orange. ...

This implies that Orange, my mobile phone service provider, plan to charge for this at some point in the future... Oh well. I already pay for time spent on the voicemail service, and would have been perfectly happy to have accessed this via the voicemail interface. The SMS solution is in fact a much better one, so I guess it's not unreasonable for me to pay something...

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