It's handy to have a cellphone that's always with you, but there are still plenty of good reasons to have a home telephone as well. Traditional corded landline phones keep working even when the power is out, which is great if you're in an area where outages are common. There's also a lot to be said for having a single number and a single source for messages for the entire household. VTech is one popular maker of cordless and hybrid corded/cordless home phone systems, and you can use one to get messages from either your phone company's voicemail system or its own telephone answering capability.
If You're Using Phone Company Voicemail
If you're using the VTech phone to get voicemail from your phone provider, it's a straightforward process. If you haven't programmed it in already, you need to enter your phone company's voicemail number into the phone. There are two ways to get there. You can press and hold the "1" key on the dial pad, which has the voicemail icon on it, or you can choose "Menu," then "Settings," and scroll down to "Voicemail #." Enter your carrier's voicemail number. Some carriers might need you to dial a main number and then press a number on your keypad to check your voicemail. In that case, press and hold the "Pause" button on your phone to insert a pause of a few beats and then add the final keystroke on your number pad. Press "Select" to save the number. Your display should show "VM # saved" at this point to show you've been successful.
Test It Out
To test that the number works, press and hold the "1" button again. Now that your number is programmed, it should ring through to your phone provider's voicemail. If it doesn't, check the number you programmed for any missed or incorrect digits. If you hear a recording saying something like "We're sorry, we didn't receive your input," that might mean you needed a longer pause before making your menu selection. When you re-enter the number, hold down the "Pause" button twice to insert a second pause. That will usually fix the problem. After you're in your mailbox, follow the prompts to hear, delete or save your messages.
VTech Phone Voicemail
It's less common than it used to be, but you can also still buy VTech phones that have telephone answering built in. There are a couple of advantages to having your own answering capability. One is that you'll keep your messages if you change phone providers and won't have to learn a whole new way of doing things. Another is that phone providers tend to delete the oldest messages after a certain length of time. When you control your own messages, you don't risk losing one because of your carrier's storage limits. The bottom line is that it gives you more control over how everything works.
Record Your Message
Your phone comes programmed with a generic message you can use, or you can record your own. Press "Menu" while the phone isn't in use and then use the arrow/volume keys to scroll to the "Answering sys" section and press "Select." Highlight "Announcement" and press "Select" again, at which point the phone prompts you to press "2" to hear your current message or "7" to record a new one. Press "7" to record your new message, "5" when you're done, and "2" to play it back. If you aren't happy with the message, press "7" to record another one. If it's good as is, you can go on to tweak your other settings.
A Couple of Additional Settings
There are other options in the phone menu's "Answering sys" section that can help you personalize how you use the answering system. For example, you can use the "# of rings" option to set how many times the VTech rings before your voicemail kicks in. That can be handy if you're usually around but need a few extra moments to set things down or find the nearest handset before you can answer. The "Recording time" lets you change your messages from the default three minutes down to two minutes or just one, as needed. You can also use the "Call screening" selection to turn this feature on and off. If you need it, your VTech's change-language feature is found in the main "Settings" menu rather than the answering section. You'll have the option of switching between English, French and Spanish.
Using Your Answering System
Once your phone is set up the way you want it, activate the voicemail function. From your base unit, you can press the "Answer On/Off" button. If you're using a cordless handset, press the "Menu" button and use the arrow keys to scroll to the "Answering sys" section. Choose "Answer On/Off" and press "Select." Then, use the arrows to choose "On" and press "Select" once more to save your choice. You'll hear a tone to let you know it's active. After this, the phone's display shows when you have new messages, and there's an optional beep tone to remind you if needed. To check your messages, press the "Play" button on the base. If you're accessing the messages from a cordless handset, press "Menu" and then use the arrow/volume keys to scroll to "Play messages." You can press "6" to skip to the next message, "4" to repeat the message, or "3" to delete it.
Calling In While You're Out
You can also get your messages while you're away from home, just as you would with the phone company's voicemail. In this case, you start by dialing your own home phone number. Once you hear the machine start to play your message, enter in the VTech's answering machine code. The default is 19, but you can program your own – it's a smart idea – using any two-digit combination from 00 to 99. To do that, press the "Menu" button and then choose "Answering sys," "Ans sys setup," and finally "Remote code." Press "Select" and use the dialing keys or the arrow/volume keys to select your chosen two digits. Press "Select" one more time to save your personalized remote access code.