Pete Hamilton

Skype Phone+Voicemail Sucks

I was recently helping someone set up a business phone number such that they could make and receive calls from their mobile and not be limited to (or have to pay for) a physical landline.

I chose Skype, which I’m not sure was a great idea any more. I was originally intending to build something with Twilio but exams are coming up so I’ve banned all side projects for now. I just needed something simple.

I got a phone number set up on their account no problem and a quick check-list of the simplest requirements then went like this:

  • Call number when signed in - goes through to various devices fine.
  • Call number when offline - calls go to Skype voicemail
  • Call number but decline call - Call gets a busy signal till you hang up
  • Call number and leave the call - Call rings out until after a few minutes you get a busy signal till you hang up

Those last two are ridiculous. Anyone calling a normal phone number expects to either:

  1. Be answered
  2. Go to voicemail immediately (if person is engaged or can’t answer)
  3. Go to voicemail after a while (if person isn’t around)

How Skype expects anyone to take their offering seriously without those last two is a mystery to me. After some digging however, I did manage to get some way to solving point 2 above.

In the desktop app (I’m on a Mac), in Skype’s preferences:

  • Select the Calls panel
  • Select Send to voice messages
  • Click Set up voice messaging
  • Tick Send declined calls to voice messages

On mobile it doesn’t seem you can enable this option. Why Skype, WHY?

Also, if you reject a call on your desktop while your mobile is signed in, it won’t send the call to voicemail but continue ringing on your phone, if you then reject it there, it goes straight to the busy tone as before.

I’m not the only one who’s discovered this.

If you have a better alternative to Skype for a simple UK business phone number setup, I’d love to hear it in the comments below.