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May 14, 2005 12:06 AM

Broken: Voice mail prompt

Steve Jackson writes:

When I check my voice mail at the office, I often do it via speaker phone. Today when entering my password, I hit one key off at one point, resulting in an error. Instead of simply telling me that I'd entered an incorrect password, it starts reading off to me exactly what I'd input: "1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1 is not a valid password" (nor is it my actual password, of course). If I hadn't picked up the handset right away, anyone wandering by could have heard my entire password, with the exception of the one character I screwed up.

And, yes, I realize it's partly my own fault for listening to voice mail on speaker. But repeating back to me the incorrect password accomplishes nothing. Just tell me it's wrong and prompt me to re-enter.


Of course, if anyone wanted access to your voice mail, they could just record the DTMF tones as you enter your PIN, or if they're especially skilled, they could decode them themselves in real-time.

Posted by: Karl Koscher at May 14, 2005 12:24 AM

I wonder what the designers were thinking when they included that feature. What possible use could it be?

Posted by: Maurs at May 14, 2005 12:52 AM

The world is not as smart as you Maus, it is run by dumbasses.

Posted by: Dumbass at May 14, 2005 01:41 AM

What's broken is people who check their voicemail on speakerphone. Do you think that the rest of us care that your wife wants you to pick up a loaf of bread on the way home?

Pick up your handset, you lazy bum.

Posted by: gravesfan at May 14, 2005 01:56 AM

I care, this way I can spend a few more minutes with your wife...

Posted by: I care at May 14, 2005 05:21 AM

I think that the only thing broken about it, is that it wastes time. I don't think anyone cares enough to try and break into your voicemail. Also, it is stupid, if you're that conserned with people listening to your messages, to listen to them on the speaker.

Posted by: N/A at May 14, 2005 09:30 AM

I think the techincal term for broken is something that does not work for you. It does not matter if there is reasoning behind the product, action or in this case password if it makes life more difficult or makes you shake your head and wonder why then it is broken. All too often we are hearded into direction and acceptance of what is given to us. Keep up questioning the daily things in your life.

Posted by: kitten at May 14, 2005 09:47 AM

I think it is broken. I check my voice mail on my cell phone using the speaker phone at work usually when I'm changing out of my work uniform or if im driving. Mine doesn't repeat the password back to me, but if it did, I would be angry.

Posted by: Jeff at May 14, 2005 10:48 AM

Whenever I check my voicemail on my cellphone, I have to type in the password, and that stays on my screen so that as long as I am listening to messages anyone who gets a glimpse at my screen can see my password.

I think that voicemail in general is broken.

Posted by: no one at May 14, 2005 11:05 AM

Pick up the damn phone. Others around you don't want to hear your B.S. except for the dude with your wife.

Posted by: UbugMe at May 14, 2005 02:00 PM

shut up kitten

Posted by: DGHfyk at May 14, 2005 04:01 PM

Incredible that anyone, including me, would respond to this useless piece of info. I'm unemployed ("rightsized", as the Marsh HR bearer of the bad news told me 3 months ago), so I have some time on my hands to respond to this insane bitch. Get a life and quit your complaining. AT LEAST YOU HAVE A JOB!!!

Posted by: BB at May 14, 2005 05:44 PM

You can check your voice mail?

wow.. i cant check mine, because calling my voice mail calls my phone and tells me that my phone is busy and fowards me to leave a message for myself, that i cant check to check my voice mail.

its not really broken that it repeats it back, its telling you what you input so that one day your drunk as hell you can check your voice mail when you cant see crap.

Do you understand now mr. anderson?

Posted by: Picho at May 14, 2005 09:11 PM

Uhhh....What's your wife's number?

Posted by: me at May 14, 2005 10:32 PM

Hmmm. What do you use your PIN for? To keep people from listening to your voicemail? I don't think so. You invite (read "force") them to do so by listening to it on speaker. Why don't you just pass your PIN around to a few associates who sit near you and listen to it anyway. This way, you can ask them if you have any messages. Or better yet, put it on your business card along with your criteria for an "important" message and a request to deliver the message to you. Heck you may never have to listen to your own messages again. (And BTW, as a person who sits near someone listens to their voicemail on speaker, that would be a blessing.) Voicemail broken? No. Your method broken? Yes!

Posted by: Randy at May 15, 2005 09:54 AM

On my cell phone, after I enter my pin, listen to my messages, and hang up, the pin stays on the screen. This means I have to wait about 5 seconds for the "Call ended" message to disappear, then push "End" again every time I call. And I can't let anyone listen to a message of mine, as my pin is displayed right on the screen throughout the phone call. That's even more broken.

Also, if this guy has an office, no one will/can listen. You're all being assholes.

Posted by: Ilan at May 15, 2005 04:12 PM

Yes you guys are

Posted by: ya at May 15, 2005 05:52 PM

Yeah, pretty much assholes. You're in cubicles and just soooo annoyed by other humans being around in the first place. Maybe the guy is actually multi-tasking. You know, doing work on the computer with both hands while listening to the useless string of crap corporate dilbert robot drones like YOU guys left on his voicemail. "Uh, yeah dave, this is Steve over here in the PMO group. I was wondering if you could deliver that report on how best to use the singleton pattern when re-engineering the vital value points for our customer relationship management system. And, oh yeah, the EDI system has something wrong with it that we can't figure out. It says something about...........beeeeeeeeeeeeep." Message deleted. Next message.......

I don't fault the guy for listening on speakerphone, but I *would* fault him if he wasn't as fast with that '7' delete key as I am when I detect corporate robot-speak in the first 2 seconds.... :)

Posted by: dk at May 15, 2005 09:10 PM

blabidy blabidy bla.

these comment pages used to be interesting.

Posted by: Bob at May 15, 2005 09:52 PM

Check out the comments for the notepads.. if you notice, you cant place any comments there, and any comment pretainting to a have been deleated as well.

Posted by: Picho at May 15, 2005 10:50 PM

why the hell does anyone check voicemail on spkrphn. Are you mad? Do you have any sense at all about the fact that people around you don't want to hear about your sad wife and how she wants to rape you? Someone should slap this ass.

Posted by: demuregoat at May 16, 2005 12:46 AM

Still, we've come a long way. One of the first systems I ever used that one logged in to, had a very helpful login interface. You entered your login and a password. If your password was incorrect, it would tell you the first character that was in error.

- Precision Blogger

Posted by: Precision Blogger at May 16, 2005 12:19 PM

Apparently part of what's broken is people's abilities to read. Note I said this:

"And, yes, I realize it's partly my own fault for listening to voice mail on speaker."

Yeah, duh, it's my own damn fault if it gets broadcast because I had it on speaker.

The larger point that absolutely nothing is accomplished by reading back to me the incorrect password is still relevant, whether only I hear it or a thousand people do.

Oh, and by the way, nobody else was within audible range when I had the speaker on. And when I do use the spaker, it's only to get through the seemingly 20 minutes of key entries and menu commands it takes for me to actually get my messages. When the messages themselves come on, I pick up the handset.

But, really, I'm sure my coworkers are all touched by your concern for their welfare.

Posted by: Steve at May 16, 2005 12:38 PM

You have to be smarter then the equipment you operate.

Posted by: AJ at May 16, 2005 03:37 PM

Maybe not so useless after all, I frequently dial into international conference call numbers and occasionally get a bad line where even entering the correct digits results in failures since the tones are not interpreted correctly.

Seeing 1-2-3-4-5-6 on my display and being told that 1-3-2-5-4-6 is not a valid passcode does help identify the cause of the failure -- otherwise I would think that the code I am seeing in the display is actually wrong.

Posted by: Klaus Johannes Rusch at May 18, 2005 06:11 PM

Kind of reminds me of this program I saw once.

My friend made it as his first password input program and he had copied some of the code from somewhere else.

Anyway, I type in my password, mis a key and it says "I'm sorry, the correct password is....." please enter a correct password.

Posted by: BOB at May 21, 2005 11:22 PM

Wow, you people...

Read part of my comment from another broken item:

"For all the people saying it's not broken, this site was made so companies and governments could improve their services. If the customer/taxpayer is dissatisfied, its broken."

For all the people going "Photoshopped!" or "Not broken!", for any of the things on This is Broken, get a life! Read the other part of my post:

"1. Why would anyone waste time on that? You don't get especially famous when you go on This Is Broken.

"2. With enough work and experience, anything can be photoshopped. Have you considered that that other broken thing might have been done pixel by pixel? See point 1."

This is Broken is to recognize all the absurd and broken things in our world and have a good laugh. Not to argue over "Pick up the phone!" and "Voicemail is stupid!".

That was a general message applying to all broken things on this website.

Posted by: A1 at May 29, 2005 08:17 AM

I'm bored, so I'm going to say why this wouldn't bother me. That's a 6-character password. The number pad on a phone has 10 numbers. Assuming only one number is off, that would still take entering the number 60 times. Would anyone really spend that much time just to break into voicemail? Maybe if you're a government official, but not an average person.

Posted by: Amy at June 11, 2005 01:40 AM

And yes, I know the thief might reach the solution sooner than that, but I think just the idea would drive someone away from the average person's voice mail.

Posted by: Amy at June 11, 2005 01:42 AM

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