What the beep?

Warning sounds have their place. They tell us when something is wrong or when danger is imminent.

They serve a valuable purpose, especially when it comes to children, or people navigating the world with a disability. It’s not hard to see why traffic lights pip to tell you when it’s safe to cross, or why, as annoyingly ubiquitous as they sometimes are, trucks and buses go ‘wah wah wah’ when reversing.

I can even understand why lifts announce what floor you’re on and tell you whether you’re going up or down. But there are plenty of alarming alarms in our modern lives that would be hard to class as ‘essential’. The number of bells and whistles, chimes, buzzes and some surprisingly elaborate musical arpeggios sounding off these days has reached a deafening, discordant crescendo.

It’s as if our every waking moment is now soundtracked by sirens. Have we reached peak beep? It’s been a long time since car horns were used as intended – to warn of collision, not as casual expletives, and cars themselves have become the ultimate helicopter parents. My car is so worried about me, and it doesn’t trust me. From unlocking (peep!) to ignition (brrrp!), it lights up and sounds off with a dozen ‘careful now’s: “Don’t forget you’re low on wiper fluid. Your tyre pressure needs checking. And it looks like you’re three minutes overdue for a service.”

I’m feeling seriously hassled before I even get out of the driveway, but my car is just warming up…

“Woah!” it shouts. “DID YOU JUST PUT ME IN REVERSE?”

Yes I did, car. I need to go backwards. Do we have to have this conversation every time? Still in the
driveway, if I take my foot off the brake before belting up, all hell breaks loose. “YOU ARE NOT GOING

I’m basically grounded. And like our parents and partners, those mechanical beeps sometimes
have a tone, don’t they? That happy tune from the microwave says “Yummy, yummy, your food is read-dy.” (Subtext: I’ve gone to a lot of trouble and I’m going to watch you eat it.)

It’s even more disturbing when the machines actually talk. Is it just my GPS that sounds passive aggressive when I take a wrong turn? If it was an emoji it would be an eyeroll or a facepalm. I’m sure I once heard it say: ‘Recalculating… dumbass.’

And Siri can be witheringly cold. If you don’t think so, try using the same tone on your partner next time they ask you to do something. [Speaks in monotone] “I’m sorry, I didn’t get that.” I recently found out when my car doesn’t beep – when I’m low on fuel. I ran totally dry in the airport drop-off zone, where you can’t park for more than two minutes let alone leave your car to walk 2km to the nearest petrol
station with a jerry can. Oh how I beeped back at it then: “You beeping heap of over-engineered junk!

Of all the beeping things you’ve beeping warned me about…?!”

Do you have a device making enough noises to drive you up the beeping wall? Please share it below


The beep , jingle sound that really annoys me is a bird that lives near the lake I fish at . I have a bird of similar song near me . I believe it to be one of our many species of honey eaters .

Ok .When we fish at night we clip small bells to the end of our fishing rods to alert us to a fish bite .
This bird has learnt to mimic the sound of the bells . The thing never sleeps . I usually stay till 2-3 am in the morning . The sight of other anglers running to their rods is quite amusing when our feathered friend decides to chirp .

I’ve given up on the bells . Just use the reels strike alarms now .


We hired a Mitsubshi ASX earlier inthe year and found its beeps very annoying…fortunately some could be turned off but not all.

In Tassie, where there are few long straight roads. As a result the head-on collision warning let us know it was there and the white line crossing/land deoarture aldo did likewise at nearly every corner.

The head-on did its business if there was a vehicle in the oposing lane also coming around the corner…it was far to sensitive and not calibrated to non-urban/non-highway conditions.

As the roads in Tassie are far from straight and some very tight, it is common practice to cut the corner to reduce passenger travel sickness and also to minimise washing of speed through the corner. If there was any white line (even divided ones), sure enough it beeped to confirm, what you already knew, that you were crossing a white line.

We managed after a few days and $&/^$& to turn it off the white lane car commentary as it was very disruptive to the ambiance within the car.

The head on one we couldn’t find a silencer.

We have also had our elderly parents rented a new vehicle with the GPS destination set by a previous user of the car. Being a bit older and less tech-wise, they didn’t know how to ‘shut up’ the GPS voices and as the destination which was set was not where they were going, it continually recalculated the route (letting them know that it was), as well as telling then to turn around. After dropping into servo after about 4-5 days (and nearly after a divorce), a younger more tech-savy person was able to work out with some difficulty how to make the GPS quiet.

While safety features have merit, when they are in your face or can’t be turned off easily, they possibly become a safety issue in themselves.


I find very annoying the self service checkout voice which tells me what to do:

Please place item in the bagging area…

Unexpected item in the bagging area
remove this item before continuing…

Do you wish to continue…

Do you need a receipt…

Please take receipt…

Please take your change…

Please take your items…
this last request is repeated at infinitum until you organise your change, your receipt, and place your items in those bags you had to remember to take along…

I usually tell it to ‘ be quiet’ to the amusement of the shopper next to me.


We have a KitchenAid 4-slice toaster that beeps so loudly you can hear it in the next postcode. It beeps when the toast is done - I get that although it could be more subtle. BUT, it also beeps when you start toasting! What? I’m there, I’ve pushed the button to start toasting - I know it’s toasting. Who was the technocrat that thought it would be a good idea to have the damn thing beep at me to tell me what I already know?

That aside, it’s a good toaster :grinning:


I get very irritated. I had a rage when my iPad bobbed up with Siri infestation asking me questions, trying to shoulder into my life. Telling it rude words got an acknowledgement so was programmed to respond to obscenity.

That self service checkout…I got annoyed with that, I pay too much for stuff which Harmsway then underpays suppliers for, and cuts back on its ill paid staff, SO I never do self service. If there was nothing else possible, I stood helplessly and a supervisor had to come and help me.

So I go to Aldi, better, more interesting and heaps cheaper. Go out smiling. Meet a better class of people. Good checkout and staff looked after better.


My iPhone has Touch ID and if I press a second too long Siri comes on.
Once I was feeling a bit frustrated and whispered ‘ oh, go away ‘. Siri heard and obeyed: the screen went blank and the apple logo appeared: she had shut down my phone.
I now have a little bit more respect for her and don’t talk back :wink:


This may not necessarily be the case. All the major supermarkets have had wage problems and Aldi is no different.

There has also been reports in the media that standard wages of Aldi staff is significantly less than for similar roles inthe other supermarkets. Aldi has countered these claims by saying that they get paid lower as their working conditions are different and they in some cases they enjoy slightly more annual leave entitlements that that mandated by law.


Back to the beep, if you get a chance audition a Bosch oven. We gave them a miss just because we could not get past the ‘feature.’ Whoever signed off on the controls accompaniment is seriously over-employed. Whether you can turn them off is one thing, their priorities and what they think is important to attract customers is another.


My Garmin GPS made so many beeps, burps and chirps that it was quite a hazard. In trying to warn, it succeeded in distracting - usually when distraction was least safe. I eventually managed to turn off all the noises, but I do wonder how many accidents could be attributed to these poor design choices.

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I think we need to ask salespeople whether the item we’re intending to purchase, be it a car or a toaster, has this incredibly annoying feature and, if so, can it be turned off. If the answers are, respectively, “yes” and “no”, then no deal.

Until we start refusing to buy stuff that nannies us, they won’t change.

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Occasionally I drive in peak hour from South Perth to home (north of the river). It’s freeway most of the way. At a quiet time the trip would take under 30 minutes, at peak hour maybe 45-50 minutes. There really isn’t another route that makes sense but I put the satnav on just in case there’s an especially horrendous traffic jam due to roadworks or an accident.

As soon as we get on the freeway the satnav starts up with “Traffic jam ahead.” This information isn’t as helpful as it sounds. Every weekday at 5.30 pm there’s a “traffic jam ahead” on the Mitchell Freeway. This will be true for the next 5 billion years until the sun becomes a red giant and swallows the Earth.

A minute or so later: “Traffic jam ahead.”
Every minute or so after that: “Traffic jam ahead.”

If a passenger did this, after the fifth repetition you might be forgiven for reaching across, opening their door and shoving them out of it.

Actually useful messages might be:

  • “The traffic jam is even worse than usual for this time of day.”
  • “The traffic is slow|very slow|stopped for the next n kilometres.”

There are people whose skill it is to design and test audible feedback and messages for computer systems like this. Unfortunately IT and car firms are sometimes tempted to save money by getting the engineer or software developer to make these decisions based on not much more than a whim or guess or personal preference.


I concur with @phb in relation to our Mitsubishi car’s safety features.

Firstly, if you turn on the engine it beeps hysterically if the driver’s seat belt isn’t done up. This is nonsensical as we aren’t moving. The cacophony only lasts for 30 or so seconds, but it is grating on the nerves. Not what you want when you are about to set off for a drive.

I have turned off the lane departure warning as it kept giving warnings for no apparent reason, even when I was smack in the middle of the lane. Our proximity warning also goes off particularly on corners whether the cars are in another lane, or coming towards us. It even goes off sometimes on the straight and narrow when passing a car in another lane.

I find all these bells and whistles are unnecessary and distracting, which is the antithesis of what you want when driving.


Yet getting a 5 stars safety rating demands many features that are essentially distractions be included.

One of my pet peeves is so simple as my auto transmission. It has economy and sports modes. Would you think I could default it to sports mode? Never! Every time the ignition goes on it starts in economy mode. Why? To protect against an ambulance chaser claiming the fuel economy rating is not fudged.

Any bell or whistle you cannot turn off is mandated by the standards or liability lawyers.


My Skoda fabia has an annoying proximity alarm, which alerts me to a lack of space between me and the next vehicle and should I fail to react, the car brakes for me.
It is immensely annoying and even Skoda service people cannot tell me how to switch it off. It is over sensitive so screeches at me, because the shadow of the upcoming overhead sign triggers a panic attack for the car. And when it is followed by sudden braking I find myself yelling at the car.
Additionally, I can see the car in front of me is turning and can predict that by the time I reach the spot, the car will no longer be there. But the Fabia panics, bleats and brakes.
I love my car, but this is the one thing that would make me trade it in.


Around 1990 when our son was playing soccer whilst attending high school, one of his team mates’ parents bought a near new Mazda 626 sedan.

At one soccer match, I asked the father what he thought of it, and he replied that whenever he touched or did anything, it would respond with beeps, tunes and jingles.

He said that he thought that he was buying a car, not a juke box on wheels.



But the AI in the car will have factored in that one day that turning vehicle might need to unexpectedly brake to avoid an accident. Or some other perceived hazard. The turning car might also have AI that is deliberately cautious or protective.

Of corse in the near future the complaint might be that the AI in your own vehicle is following too far behind and not keeping up with the traffic, just in case? A whole new cause for angst. Worse your following vehicle might suddenly start screaming alarm and hand control back to the driver all of a sudden. The situation ahead is too complex and it’s now up to the startled driver to grab the wheel, take control, and take the blame for the impending collision. AI might also be perfect when it needs to cover it’s A! :rofl:

It’s a deal breaker for me. If I can’t turn off those infuriating messages, I don’t buy the car.


I wonder when Insurance companies will start avoiding claims when warning signals have been disabled in the vehicle. They may be able to claim that the user disabled safety devices and thus increased the risk of accident. The increased risk component of policies is already in place and a policy holder is required to disclose things that increase the risk for the company eg speeding fines, changes to the vehicle such as custom sound systems, tires, engine modifications.