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How to disable voicemail on AT&T (with an iPhone).

If you're anything like me, you're no fan of voicemail. Well, I've finally killed mine, and if you're an AT&T user (specifically of the iPhone) here's how you can do the same, and what you can expect.

First up, you're going to have to call AT&T. That sucks, I know, but from what I learned it appears that iPhone voicemail is bound to your data plan, so it can't be easily removed with a mobile dial code (en.wikipedia.org­/wiki­/Mobile­_dial­_code ).

Important note for iPhone users:
If you have one of the old school $30 unlimited iPhone data plans, take care that the rep you're talking to doesn't take this opportunity to switch you to one of the new plans; s/he will be effectively removing your data plan and adding it back without visual voicemail, and it would be very easy for them to accidentally add your plan back as the new $25 / 2GB plan.

Here's how to start:
-Call AT&T
-At the main menu dial 3 for help with voicemail
-Dial 0 to speak with CSR regarding voicemail
-Request to have your voicemail disabled

Now that your AT&T voicemail is disabled, what you can expect when someone calls you:
-You let it ring: your phone will now ring for a while longer than usual (I've been seeing up to a minute). Eventually it will stop trying and play a message for the caller that says (in both English, then Spanish), "The wireless customer you are calling is not available, please try again later." Awww yeah.
-You decline the call: no message is played and the call is immediately terminated. This may make the caller feel like their call was dropped and call again, so I'd advise you wait a few seconds before declining the call instead of doing so immediately.

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6 replies

Do you not use voicemail at all now or are you using something like Google Voice or PhoneTag?

I can't stand voicemail either but I just set my conditional call forwarding to my Google Voice number so that if people feel compelled to leave a message I can just read it.
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While I do use Google Voice for some things, I don't use any voicemail stand-ins. Aside, I have found Google Voice transcriptions to be generally terrible, although I don't necessarily blame Google (the audio quality on most phone calls is just terrible). I'd really just rather people simply sent me an email me or text, which is far easier to triage.
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Agreed. GV transcriptions are downright comical but it beats nothing for those that just have to leave me a message. When I reach someone's voicemail I generally hang up and send a text.

I will say, however, that PhoneTag's transcription is really, really good. I use PhoneTag for our home phone. I'd drop the home phone in a heartbeat but we need it for the alarm system and, for some reason, my wife likes it.

You could always go the route of some of my less tech-savvy relatives and just make your outgoing voicemail greeting something along the lines of, "don't bother leaving a message. i do not check my voicemail." they don't check it because they don't know how rather than they don't want to.
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For the past few years I've had a voicemail message that said almost exactly that -- polite but very strongly discouraging of voicemail (and, of course, encouraging email / SMS). Unsurprisingly, I still got voicemail all the time. Disabling is the only way to go if you really don't want people leaving you voicemail.
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I just state in my outgoing VM that they "must leave a clear message since it will be transcribed to text." When it hits the mailbox and I reply via email, they can see how well they did in my reply message. I also like that I can leave a custom outgoing message for unrecognized numbers saying they are being screen and to leave a message and a message for known solicitors that their messages is considered spam and add me to their do-no-call list. As much as I dislike voice mail, GV has improved the system dramatically.
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Nothing worst than voicemail!!! yuk~
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