Free voicemail transcription on Telstra Prepaid (and postpaid too!)

In the last few months of being with Optus, I trialled a service they offer which transcribes voicemails to text and sends and SMS. I loved this feature – even when it’s not entirely accurate, the transcription is enough that I can figure out who the message is from, what it’s about, and how urgent it is that I call back. In a lot of cases it’s just someone passing on some information and there’s no need to call back at all.

When I ported my first mobile service to Telstra prepaid, I was delighted to find that I was getting this service for free. I had seen Voice2Text mentioned on Telstra’s site and assumed that this was the service I was getting.

A few weeks later I ported my second service to Telstra prepaid – but on this service, regular voicemail was in effect. I sent Telstra’s Twitter team a message asking how to activate this:

I have voice2text on my first prepaid account (0407123456); I’d like it on my second prepaid phone (0403654321) as well.

Unfortunately the team were only able to tell me that Voice2Text wasn’t active on my first service, and they guessed that ‘It may only be available for Post-Paid accounts‘. They suggested I call the standard support number just in case they were wrong.

All of this was a shock coming from Optus, where the team who run the @Optus account are knowledgeable about their product range and proactive about solving problems – their response would have been to call me and ask for more information to find out what I was actually seeing on my phone; they never wasted my time with guesses about what services might be offered, they would make sure they had all the information to hand before they called me – and they would never tell me that a service I’m receiving doesn’t exist.

(disclaimer: I worked at Optus 3ish years ago, my old team worked some of the backed that the @Optus team use – but as far as I know this had no bearing on the service I received from the team. Please don’t confuse my love of the @Optus team with an endorsement for the company overall – I had terrible coverage issues which they were unable/unwilling to address, which is why I’m now a bitter ex-customer of theirs. It’s a shame that such quality customer service couldn’t be backed by a network that has a semblance of coverage and the ability to make and receive the occasional phone call. But I digress…)

Today, a friend pointed me at a different Telstra service called variously ‘Call Back Notification’ or ‘Message2Text’. This service offers people leaving me a voicemail ‘the option to leave a short 10 second message that is converted to text and sent to you as an SMS‘. Sound familiar? This is identical to Voice2Text – except for the 10-second time limit, and the fact that it’s completely free and available even on prepaid.

To activate this, you need to disable the Messagebank service on your account. The Telstra site says that thai requires a call to their call center; but I can confirm that dialing ##002# turned off MessageBank (and thus turned on Message2Text) for me. I’m not entirely sure how to turn MessageBank back on – but as I don’t intend to use it, I don’t care.

One Comment

  1. jamezpolley says:

    FWIW, Vodafone have a feature called “Ring Alert”, which will call you when a voicemail message was left and play it back for you. This feature is free – but not entirely reliable, as if you’re out of range for too long it will give up and not call you any more.

    Calling 121 does charge you standard call rates though.

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