Voice mail, essentially an answering machine for a cellular phone or land line that operates electronically, gives you the added benefit of being able to leave a message for someone you call when he is either unable to answer the phone or has turned the phone off. Voice mail does have its disadvantages though, especially when compared with other methods of electronic communication.
For some people, checking their voice mail is a hassle, especially when compared with the ease of sending and receiving text messages. Procrastinators might put off checking voice mail, habitually telling themselves that they'll check it later. When you receive a voice mail, most phones will alert you that you have a message. Yet, unlike text messages, though, voice mail requires calling your inbox and entering your password to get the messages.
People can feel frustrated going through business voice mail systems. These systems are usually far more complex than personal voice mail systems on cell phones. An automated service or recording guides callers through a menu that requires them to press different buttons on their phone. People may become confused by the options, or the options may not include the voice mail inbox they were trying to reach.
When someone receives a voice mail, it is instant unless she is in an area without cell phone service or she has turned her phone off. Yet, even when the voice mail recipient's phone is on, a voice mail may not come through right away. The recipient may have set the phone on vibrate, or she may be unaware that she has a voice mail. Even if the recipient realizes she has a message, she may ignore this because she is busy.
It is hard to discreetly listen or respond to voice mail messages since these require you to make at least one phone call to your voice mail service. In many public places, such as in a movie theater, talking on your cell phone is rude or prohibited. Other methods of electronic communication, such as text message or e-mail and instant message on an Internet-capable phone, are much more discreet.
You can forget or ignore a voice mail message, but it's more difficult to do that with a live phone conversation, e-mail or text message. E-mail and text messages provide the sender with a copy that can serve as proof that you sent a message. Although you can record voice mail messages that you leave others, and may be able to play these recordings as proof, it is far more complicated than showing someone a text message that you sent to him. It is also easier for people to say that they "did not receive" your voice mail if they are purposely ignoring you or trying to get out of a commitment.