Why the standard ‘Leave a Message’ message on cellphones talks about faxes

When you call someone on their cellphone, and they are not available, do you ever wonder why the standard ‘leave a message’ message includes information on how to send a fax?

Really, how many people are actually trying to send a fax to a cellphone number, you wonder. And, how many cellphones even support such a functionality, you suppose. And by the fact that this valuable information got recently added to that message, only in the last couple of years, you’re wondering if you’ve missed a totes new trend that kids are all over – sending faxes!

Nope, none of those. The reason that message includes information about sending faxes is so the phone companies can make the length of the message longer. This is also why the message is getting slower in delivery, has extra pauses, and also tells you how to send a page. (page? really??)

And here’s the reveal – the length of the message is getting longer, so you trip over the 1 minute boundary when leaving your message. Since the phone calls are priced by the minute, the longer the initial message, the more likely you are to leave a message that’s more than 1 minute long. This helps both the caller and the callee, so there is no incentive for any phone company to go in the other direction.

More blood-sucking brought to you by your friendly phone company!

– Amit

PS: the original research for this was done by someone else – I heard about it a few years back. I haven’t been able to locate it – if someone points it out (tweet me), I’ll include it here.

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