David Pogue is a genius.
The New York Times technology columnist, “Missing Manual” publisher, Emmy-winning CBS correspondent and frequent NPR guest is a Westporter. I’m proud to call him a friend.
I’m particularly excited about his latest crusade, announced today in his weekly (free) email column: a nationwide effort to get US cellphone carriers to change the obnoxious, minutes-eating “instructions” we hear many times a day.
You know the ones: “Record your message after the tone. To send a numeric page, press 5. When you are finished recording, hang up, or for delivery options, press pound.”
Has anyone, anywhere, ever sent a “numeric page”? Considered other “delivery options”? Or thought about holding on forever, unaware that it is possible simply to hang up?
Sounds humorous. But those “instructions” are deadly serious. We pay for them. Cell executives have told David that they exist primarily to use up airtime. He figured that if the 70 million customers of just 1 carrier — Verizon — leave or check messages twice a day, the company could rake in $620 million a year.
David wants to send a message right back. He writes:
We’re going to descend, en masse, on our carriers. Send them a complaint, politely but firmly. Together, we’ll send them a LOT of complaints.
If enough of us make our unhappiness known, I’ll bet they’ll change.
I’ve told each of the four major carriers that they’ll be hearing from us. They’ve told us where to send the messages:
* Verizon: Post a complaint here: http://bit.ly/FJncH
* AT&T: Send e-mail to Mark Siegel, executive director of media relations: MS8460@att.com
* Sprint: Post a complaint here: http://bit.ly/9CmrZ
* T-Mobile: Post a complaint here: http://bit.ly/2rKy0u
Three of the four carriers are just directing us to their general Web forums. Smells like a cop-out, I know. (As for AT&T: Props to the guy for letting me publish his e-mail address! Hope he knows what he’s in for!)
Yet all four carriers promise that they’ll read and consider our posts. And we have two things going for us.
First, I have a feeling that the volume of complaints will be too big for them to ignore. To that end, I hope you’ll pass these instructions along, blog them, Twitter them, and spread the word. (Gizmodo, Consumerist and others have agreed to help out.)
And I hope you’ll take the time to complain yourself. Do it now, before you forget.
Thanks, David, for trying to help save Americans millions of hours — and dollars. I’ll contact all 4 carriers right now.
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