After recently browsing the NoContracts forum on Reddit, I noticed a post in which one user mentioned that he was being charged $2.99 per month for using the Verizon Visual Voicemail app.
This was astounding to me since I have never even heard of such a thing as cell phone companies charging for visual voicemail, I always just assumed it was free since that is the case with my current carrier Republic Wireless and my previous carrier AT&T when using an iPhone. Since I just wrote an article on cell phone company scams such as fee cramming, I’ve decided to investigate the question: Is visual voicemail free or not, and what are the visual voicemail costs for the different mobile phone companies that do charge for it.
What Is Visual Voicemail?
First let me clarify what is visual voicemail before we precede. Visual voicemail is basically when you go into the calls section of your smartphone and a list of your voice messages is displayed. From this list you can typically tap whatever message you want to listen to and decide what the next action is whether to call back, delete, or save it.
The whole point is that it is a much easier way to manage voicemails than the old archaic system of calling in a number to “check your messages” while navigating through arduous levels of recorded menu directories, making sure that you are pressing the correct numbers so that you don’t delete a message instead of save it.
Verizon Visual Voicemail Cost
Regarding the Reddit forum post I talked about, here is the screenshot taken by the user which shows Verizon’s attempt at getting him or her to sign up for the $2.99 per month service.
Now I don’t know about you but $2.99 a month is a bit much for a voice mail service in my opinion, especially for a service that is offered free on other phone carriers. To me this reeks of phone bill cramming and likely just another way for Verizon to nickel and dime its own customers.
I decided to poke around the Verizon website to confirm these costs and get a little more information. On this page of the Verizon site it does indeed confirm that the VVM costs are $2.99 along with a description of what the service includes. However, I noticed that people who have iPhones were not being charged for VVM on Verizon. Further investigation showed this Question & Answer from a Verizon customer service rep:
Why do I have to now pay for Visual V-Mail when I had it for free on my iPhone?
Thanks for asking such a great question. Visual Voicemail is the primary way to check your voicemail on iPhones. Apple’s voicemail server is strictly off of data. The feature is free, although it does use data. The Visual Voicemail Feature on other devices does come with a cost of $2.99 since this is still tied in with our voicemail platform. I hope this helps.
Ah ha! Well this would explain why iPhone users don’t get charged for visual voicemail services. Apple seems to provide that service for free regardless of what cell phone carrier you are using. However, it is rather disappointing knowing that if you wanted to switch to another type of device such as a Samsung Galaxy or Motorola Moto X for example, you’d get hit with an extra fee!
We already know that Verizon is screwing their customers for VVM, lets take a look at what some of the other mobile phone companies charge for their voicemail services.
T-Mobile Visual Voicemail Cost
According to T-Mobile’s website, their VVM app is currently free to use for all subscribers. The app needs to be downloaded from the Google Play store if you are using an Android based device and is available to those with both the flat monthly rate plans or with prepaid plans.
One caveat is that charges may still apply when using the app for initiating calls, texts, and emails.
Downloading and using VVM is free. Calls, texts, and emails initiated from the Visual Voicemail application are charged according to your rate plan.
The T-Mobile VVM app looks like this:
AT&T Visual Voicemail Cost
AT&T is my previous mobile service provider before switching to Republic Wireless, however during all the years I was with them I never had a VVM fee, although this is likely due to only using iPhones which provide their own VVM service for free. But lets take a look if Android and other phone OS systems get charged.
After extensive browsing of AT&Ts support documents, there doesn’t seem to be any indication that they charge for visual voicemail for Android, Windows, or other types of phone users. It says the following though:
Data and messaging used in replying to and forwarding voicemail messages via messaging or email are counted against your data and/or messaging plan, and applicable charges apply if data and/or messaging plan limits are exceeded. International voice, data, and messaging charges apply to receiving, replying to, and forwarding voicemail messages while roaming internationally.
I decided to call the AT&T customer service line to confirm what, if any of the VVM costs might be. The explanation I received was that all of the new cell phone plans include AT&T visual voicemail for free, however it may be the case that older plans that were grandfathered in to the unlimited data plans for example could still be paying a VVM fee.
So if you are an older AT&T customer using a non iPhone device then it might be a good idea to check if you are being charged this monthly fee or not.
The AT&T VVM app looks like this:
Sprint Visual Voicemail Cost
The Sprint support web pages are pretty vague on the costs and fees associated with their VVM service and on first look it appears that it is free for all users. Just to be safe, I contacted their customer support by chat this time and here is the conversation I had:
|Me:||I was hoping you could help me clarify some information regarding costs for Sprint’s visual voicemail service?|
|Derrick:||I’ll be glad to help you.|
|Derrick:||Visual Voicemail is free and included on supported phone.|
|Me:||Does that apply to all phones including Adroid and Windows based phones?|
|Derrick:||It’s not compatible for all the phones. However, it’s compatible for the maximum Adroid and Windows based phones|
|Me:||I see thanks. Also, I notice that there is some type of voicemail transcription service that seems to be separate from the VVM service, is there any costs associated with that?|
|Derrick:||Premium Visual Voicemail to Text service cost $2.99|
|Me:||Ok thanks that is good to know. Do have a link to your site that describes the features associated with Premium VVM compared to the basic VVM?|
|Derrick:||Let me look into it.|
|Derrick:||http://support.sprint.com/support/service/category/Visual_Voicemail-Visual_Voicemail?question_box=Sprint visual voicemail&id16=Sprint visual voicemail|
|Derrick:||You can visit above link to check the details.|
|Me:||Cool, thanks you’ve been very helpful!|
|Derrick:||You are welcome.|
As you can see from the conversation, basic visual voicemail is free, however they do have a premium visual voicemail to text service that does cost $2.99 per month, so that is something to look out for.