“Thank you for calling XYZ Corporation. Please listen carefully, because the menu items have changed …”

It’s a familiar phrase, and it’s one of my biggest pet peeves. Why does such a seemingly innocuous phrase drive me to distraction?

First, I’m already listening carefully, and I don’t need your company to talk to me as though I’m a toddler. I’m listening carefully for two reasons: I really do want to hear what it is you’re about to say, and the quality of your recording makes it difficult to comprehend.

Second, whether I’ve never called you before or have called ten times in the last month, I’ve had no reason to memorize your menu choices. Why would I? There’s only so much empty space available in my organic memory (after what’s been taken up by all those Bee Gees lyrics), and your voice mail menu isn’t important enough to warrant any of that precious space.

Finally, who gives a fig whether your menu choices have changed? You do, obviously, but does it matter to anyone else who calls you? Sure, a small percentage of callers may be accustomed to pressing “2” and are now annoyed at having to press “3,” but those are the kind of people who are always annoyed, no matter what you do or don’t do.

So why do I hear this annoying phrase all the time? I suspect that most companies use it because they hear other companies using it. Since someone else does it, it must be the right thing to do. But it’s not. So stop it. Check your company’s voice mail today, and if you hear that phrase, please fix it before I have to call you and hear it. Thank you for listening carefully.


  1. My doctor’s office’s recording says this. The reason it drives ME crazy is they implemented their new answering system a year and a half now. So NO, the menu choices have not recently changed. They just haven’t taken the time to update the recording.

    Not to mention the fact that, after all this time, I know that I need to press 8 for appointments… but it won’t let me do so until I listen to the whole message about “if you are calling about a prescription refill, please leave your name, phone number, date of birth, doctor’s name, medication and dosage, and pharmacy where you would like to pick it up. Please allow 24 to 48 hours for us to respond. If you call back before then, it will delay our response.”

    Not that this rant crosses my mind several times a month when I call them or anything…

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