Nuisance calls continue to be a problem for people on both their cell phones and landlines. I sought to address this by signing up for YouMail, a robocall blocker that you can access via website or mobile app.
I’ve used YouMail for more than a year in hopes of avoiding calls from telemarketers and scammers. If you want to know if YouMail works, read on.
YouMail Review: Does It Stop Spam and Robocalls?
In this article, I’ll review the pros and cons of YouMail’s basic plan (which is free) and tell you whether it does what it’s supposed to do.
What Is YouMail and How Does It Work?
YouMail describes itself as being in the business of “visual voicemail services.” That’s a fancy way of saying that the company records, logs and transcribes voicemails so that you can read them in your email inbox.
YouMail forwards your missed calls, including those identified as spam, to an access number, which it then answers.
“Once we receive your missed call, we play your designated voicemail greeting and deposit the message in your inbox,” YouMail’s website says.
Spam callers should hear an “out of service” greeting when they reach your number, which should discourage them from calling again.
Depending on which plan you choose, YouMail can also transcribe your calls up to a certain number of seconds or the entire message. The free plan employs an automated service, while paid plans provide human-edited transcriptions.
How Much Does YouMail Cost?
YouMail has a basic plan that is free to use. The service also offers four levels of upgrades which are paid packages. The upgraded plans come with everything from call transcription to the ability to add different phone numbers. Here are the main features of each package:
- Free: 20 voicemails a month transcribed and 100 messages saved forever
- Plus: $5.99 a month billed annually / $7.99 billed monthly with 1,000 messages saved forever and 50 voicemail transcriptions per month
- Solo: $14.99 billed annually / $17.99 billed monthly: You get 360 minutes of message transcription per month and can use the service with up to three different phone numbers.
- Growth: $24.99 a month billed annually / $29.99 billed monthly: Unlimited message transcription and can use the service with up to six phone numbers.
- Small Business: $44.99 a month billed annually / $49.99 billed monthly: Unlimited message transcription; can use the service with up to 15 phone numbers.
Can You Use YouMail With Your Phone?
You can use YouMail exclusively with your phone or on your desktop. (I do a combination of both.) But note that, to set up the service, you’ll have to use your phone to link your number to YouMail.
YouMail has a lot of features, but one of the more prominent ones is its ability to block spam calls. Here’s how that works.
How To Set Up YouMail To Block Spam Calls
As you’ll notice, the setup process begins on YouMail’s website and will be completed on its mobile app. Ready to get started? On your desktop, go to YouMail.com to sign up.
1. Sign Up
Enter your phone number to use the service. If you’re paying for a Professional Plan, you can input more than one number.
2. Input Your Plan Information
Once you sign up with your phone number, YouMail will either automatically detect your cell phone carrier or ask you to enter it and select whether you have a prepaid or traditional phone plan.
3. Get Your PIN
Next, YouMail will generate a four-digit PIN that you’ll need when you log in. Keep this number somewhere safe. It will also prompt you to open the app on your phone to complete setting up.
4. Go Through the Activation Codes
Once I opened the app on my phone, it instructed me to “call” three numbers that act as activation codes to unlock many of YouMail’s features. Each “call” is really a prompt that pings a phone number to call you, but the instructions say you’re not supposed to answer (see graphic below). After each “call,” a new screen listed the features I had enabled.
Once you go through those steps, you’re in business: You’ve got YouMail!
Now you’ll be able to access your inbox, conferences, greetings and more from your desktop or phone. On a desktop, here’s how the YouMail navigation menu looks:
After completing those initial steps, it’s time to block spam calls. I didn’t see a way to set up spam-blocking on the desktop. On your phone, you can enable Smart Blocking in the YouMail app.
- Tap on the three bars in the upper left corner.
- Select “History.”
- Tap on the number you want to block.
- Tap on the three bars in the upper right corner.
- Select “Report Spam/Block.”
- Tap on the clock icon at the bottom of the screen.
- Tap on the number you want to block.
- Tap the “X” icon.
- Tap the “Report Spam” button.
Once you’ve set up YouMail’s Smart Blocking feature, spam callers will be greeted with a message such as “This number has been disconnected.”
You can also take advantage of several features including:
- Voicemail to text: You can enable voice-to-text features by accessing the settings on your phone.
- Default greeting: Also in “Settings,” you can choose from among six greetings. Just click the audio at the bottom of the screen to hear each one.
- Reverse call lookup: Want to see details on a number that just called you? YouMail allows you to do a reverse call lookup, which pulls up a map showing the vicinity of the caller.
Clark’s Take: Is YouMail Any Good?
Money expert Clark Howard says that YouMail is invaluable to him when he’s on the go.
“What makes YouMail so great is that your voicemails come to you in an app,” Clark says. “So for me, when I travel, instead of having to call in, I can listen to them three different ways using the app.”
He adds that he loves the fact that YouMail lets you access your voicemails with an internet connection.
“The best thing about it is, if I’m traveling outside the United States, I can listen to my voicemails over Wi-Fi,” he says. “On the data side, I don’t have to make a phone call to listen to my messages.”
I asked Clark which version of YouMail he uses. “Free, of course,” he said. “The paid one is worth the money, though.”
After using YouMail’s free plan for a while now, I’ve noticed there are some definite positives about the service, but there are also a few drawbacks. Here are some pros and cons that I’ve identified:
YouMail Pros and Cons (Free Plan)
|Easy-to-use interface||You get to read only the first 15 seconds of your voicemail.|
|You can get your messages via phone or desktop.||Collects your contact list and other personal info.|
|Has reverse phone number lookup built inside app.||Machine transcriptions can be off a bit. (ex.: “Greg” instead of “Craig”)|
As far as blocking spam calls, YouMail does stop those suspicious unlisted numbers that come to your phone, but what I think the service does really well is screen calls.
While it’s true that YouMail’s free version transcribes only part of your messages, in my case I found that to be enough because I am far more interested in who’s calling rather than reading a complete message, which I can listen to in its entirety via my phone’s voicemail function.
The partial transcriptions come in handy for me because they help me prioritize my callbacks. So if you want a service that helps reduce your unwanted calls and screens nuisance calls, YouMail’s free version does offer a solution, albeit a limited one.