Telephone Answering Machines, from Life in the USA: The Complete Guide for Immigrants and Americans

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Life in the USA
Public Services I
The Telephone

Telephone Answering Machines
Telephone answering machines are widely used throughout the United States. When you call someone who is not home (or who is home but doesn't want to receive calls) you might get a recorded message from them. After a beep or tone, you can leave your own message. Some machines cut you off after thirty seconds or so, while some let you talk as long as you like. Machines can sometimes be programmed to give a message to callers but not to take one. These are commonly used in movie theaters for people calling in to hear the times a film will be shown.

You can screen calls using an answering machine. If someone you want to speak with starts to leave a message, you have the option of picking up the receiver to take the call. The technique for doing this will vary according to the machine.

Effective Outgoing Messages. If you have a telephone answering machine, leave a clear, quick outgoing message. Avoid the temptation to have music in the background since it usually doesn't reproduce well over the tiny microphone of a telephone answering machine.

Leaving Messages. When you leave your own message on someone else's answering machine, be clear, brief and to the point. In many cases, it pays to anticipate the need to leave a message, and get it ready in advance.


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