Why You Should 'Take Back the Beep'

Newspaper columnist starts movement to stop cell phone annoyance.

Aug. 10, 2009 — -- David Pogue is my superhero. I want to see him in Spandex!

Pogue is a New York Times columnist who did what I have often dreamed of doing: He started a campaign called "Take Back the Beep" to let cell phone companies know how much we all hate those maddening automated messages they tack on after our own outgoing voice mail messages have played.

You know the ones. After I say, "Hi, this is Elisabeth Leamy, please leave a message (I'm deliberately brief -- I hate long personal messages, too), the cell phone company adds on this ridiculous 15-second addendum that sounds something like this: "To page this person, press 5. When you have finished recording, you may hang up. To leave a callback number, press 1" and on and on.

Every phone (except the iPhone, apparently) does it and they're all a little different.

"Good Morning America" used to have a segment called "It Drives Me Crazy," in which we all aired our pet peeves. This was going to be mine, but then some other great segment idea was born and bumped this baby before I got my chance.

Actually, it's more than a peeve. It's a real problem when you consider that we all pay for this wasted air time. There's another silly message when you access your voice mail. It's also a waste of our air time and our time, period.

So, I hereby join David Pogue and his legions of followers in asking cell phone companies to give us the option of turning off the robot voice. Sprint is the only big carrier that already provides this possibility and I just successfully did it! All thanks to my hero David Pogue's instructions:

Access your voice mail box.

Press 3, for personal options.

Press 2, for greetings.

Press 1, to change your personal greeting.

Press 3, to add or remove the caller instructions.

Follow the prompts to turn instructions on or off.


Of course, I don't call and leave myself messages, so this gives me mostly sympathetic satisfaction.

For those who would like to voice their opinion to the big cellular companies, wouldn't it be funny if you could leave them a voice mail? Of course, you'd have to wait through the annoying automated outgoing message first, which is enough to cause you to give up! So you can e-mail instead.

Pogue provides these links where the companies are taking in feedback:

Verizon: Post a complaint here.

AT&T: Send e-mail to: customerissues@attnews.us.

Sprint: Post a complaint here.

T-Mobile: Post a complaint here.