I just bought and installed a new cordless phone system. Our previous system had seen better days — batteries on a few of the phones were not charging anymore and my tripping over the cords for the main base in my office caused it to drop enough times that it had begun to show its scars.

I didn’t shop long, but was generally amazed at how little this technology has advanced. I would have thought that phones would come standard with simple contact synchronization (with Outlook through cords if not with Google or other services over the internet). I also thought a standard feature might be some level of bluetooth integration with my cell phone so I could switch to the handset easily. I dare not expect any sort of rudimentary phone number lookup capabilities with internet services. I don’t even need a map UI — just simple scrolling of the first few numbers it finds — and let me lookup either residential or businesses. But nope, I will expect the exact same features I have had for 15 or more years.

But all those possible capabilities seem way too complicated to even dream of compared to the experience I just encountered while trying to setup the meager number of configurable settings on my phone system (if I can even call it a “system”) tonight. I went through to set up the voicemail access number for my phone provider —– no, I was past wondering why these phones don’t have visual voicemail built-in. After testing the setup, I realized I typo’d one of the numbers. ‘No big deal, I will just change the number,’ I thought to myself. However, though I could initially set the access number through the normal menus, I realized there was simply no way to change it. I had to dig up the manual online and was amused enough by the cryptic steps that I just had to share them (below).

Can someone PLEASE build some interesting land-line phone systems – many of us do still use them for a number of reasons, and I bet many more would if they had any decent functionality (especially with all this research coming out about the possibly negative health implications of cellphone use).

Steps for Changing Your Cordless Phone’s Voicemail Access Number
In order to change your voicemail access number, you must first erase it.
However, there are no textual menus providing any workflow for you to delete the number, let alone change it.
Instead, press {MENU}
Then dial {#}{3}{3}{1} ------ How on earth could I have guessed that???
Then, press and hold {CLEAR} until all digits are erased.
Then select {SAVE}
Then press {OFF}

I would not have been surprised if they next asked me to unplug the device for 20 seconds and plug it back in, followed by spinning around 4 times before attempting to setting the voice mail access code again.