When Janice Manages Your Voice Mail

I would very much like to post right now and say “Ahhhhh! Someone get [this song] out of my head!” But I don’t want to accidentally put the song in your head. So I won’t.

Instead, I will describe the bizarre menu options in my work voice mail. The recorded voice in the system is one I’ve heard before, but I can’t remember whether it was at a previous job or at Macalester (undergrad college #1, for those of you just tuning in). No matter. Ever since Macalester, every recorded voice mail system woman is named Janice.

So I dial the extension for the voice mail system, and Janice answers. She asks me to enter my password, followed by the pound sign. So far so good.

When I am logged in, Janice tells me I have new messages. But my first choice is to record messages (for sending to other people) by pressing 1. To get messages, I press 2. OK, I can live with that, even though I don’t know many people who log into their voice mail on a regular basis to record messages.

Then Janice tells me some information about the first message – who it’s from, what time it was recorded, and its length. Then, again, I have choices. I like that part. But my choices here are in this order:

  • To listen to the message, press 0.
  • To delete the message, press *D.
  • To skip the message, press #.

I’m sorry, quoi?

Then, once I’ve listened to the message, I have these options:

  • To respond or forward, press 1.
  • To delete the message, press *D.
  • To skip the message, press #.

AHA! I think I have discovered part of the reason for this madness. Janice is attempting to maintain a context-independent menu, so that *D means the same thing wherever you are.

However, repeat after me: Elegance of design is not the same thing as ease of use! This system puts the choices in an order like no other voice mail system I’ve ever used! And why do I have to press two keys to delete, which is what happens to most voice mail messages!?

Enough said. Onward to the next miscreant. Good thing the universe has me around to criticize these errors in judgment, or we might be in serious trouble.

3 thoughts on “When Janice Manages Your Voice Mail

  1. Travis

    For years, if you pressed the wrong button, our phone system woman would say in a really annoyed, impatient voice, “That’s not a valid option!” I think there was an implied “dumbass” in that statement.

    I just noticed that it’s been recently changed to say in a pleasant, neutral way, “I do not understand that command. Please try again.”

  2. DragonHawk

    The “*D” for delete is a sure sign of a Lucent (formerly part of “ma bell”) voice mail system. Most likely Audix — Lucent’s big, flexible, modular VM package — although Lucent makes smaller VM systems too. If you’ve ever heard the message “Your call is being answered by Audix”, you’ve called into a Lucent system. And since you mention “Janice”: The official Lucnet name for the “automatic operator” in Lucent VM systems is “Emma” — named after the first US telephone operator.

    Yah, I’m a geek.

    — DragonHawk

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