SMS instead of voicemail

I’m in India and I have my Indian SIM card in my phone. The thing I don’t have is voicemail. I investigated turning it on, but I got a long and convoluted set of options from the cell phone company that I couldn’t comprehend. So I just lived without it.

I actually love it.When people want to reach you and you’re not picking up, they just send you an SMS and tell you who they are and what the deal is. It is perfect –

You get a message you can read faster than listening to the voicemail.

By default it is pithy instead of a long, rambling message.

The phone number to call back is right there and you don’t have to write it down.

Landlines would have to be enabled to send SMSes in order for this to really work (think doctor’s office or some service provider calling) but I’m a fan of eliminating voicemail as a concept entirely and replacing it with text messages. Once landlines are enabled, I don’t see the downside. Already, companies like Simulscribe transcribe voicemail and send it to you in an email because it is easier and more convenient for people to read the message, thus proving the concept. Eliminating the concept of voicemail entirely would be awesome – one less thing to check.

The one downside to my cell phone service in India is that I don’t have call waiting. And it appears that many people don’t. So if someone is on the other line, you get the busy signal and you have to keep trying or they won’t even know that you tried to reach them.

Oh wait… I guess one could just send them an SMS instead!

10 thoughts on “SMS instead of voicemail”

  1. anantha says:

    Yup. Many don't have call waiting. The lack of voice-mail is the biggest adjustment I have had to make. Oh, that and this missed call business.

    Btw, how long in Chennai?

  2. Shripriya says:

    Other than to exhange phone numbers I don't understand missed calls.
    But then again I'm not here for so long that I need to develop missed
    call signals and codes.

    Leave this week. Very short and crazy trip. Not eager to head back to
    the freezing tundra.

  3. Nilu says:

    Voicemail has one important use — in that it gives you familiarity and confidence the first time. Consider you are making a nervous call to some doctor's office: the reassurance that they are in-fact in the doctor business and know all there is to know about your imagined illness is rather important. At least to me.

    But once familiarity is established, I agree, a text message works better.

  4. Shripriya says:

    Fair point. For businesses to have voicemail makes sense – both as a form of establishing identity and because customers might want to reach them in numerous ways.

    At the personal/individual level, it should be an option. Right now in the US I doubt I could turn off voicemail even if I wanted to in the sense that I don't know if carriers enable that (and I wouldn't want to until businesses and services start sending voicemails).

  5. psethi says:

    Almost all providers have call waiting. which provider are you using? It could be a simple seting..

  6. Shripriya says:

    I use Airtel in India. Would love to turn it on, but the problem I described in the post will only really go away when everyone has it turned on. Why do the providers not turn it on by default?

  7. Nidhi Idnani says:

    I believe Voicecloud converts voicemail into text and have them delivered as emails or text msgs. Also AT&T gives that option for about $10 over and above your monthly plan.

    Enjoy your trip to India.

  8. Rational_Human says:

    The other nice thing to do with SMS is option to turn on a delivery receipt. Fear not privacy advocates, it's not a return receipt merely a confirmation that your SMS has been delivered to the recipient's phone.
    And in India, with the originator paying, you don't get a ton of SPAM (which is really nice)

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