Verizon is the exact same way. They actually "upgraded" to this voicemail service. It use to be "First message" and then you would get your message now we are told THREE times about our new messages. Drives me nuts!!
Hm. I use Cingular too, and mine works a lot more like your idealized voicemail experience. No password from my phone--it says,
"Hello, [my voice]David[/my voice].
You have X unplayed messages (and Y saved messages).
Message one. From (name or number).
(message goes here)
(repeat as necessary)"
with my phone I programed my password to play automatically with whatever number you have to call for voicemail thus it is a little more automated b/c I don't have to type in my password each time (just put a couple pauses b/n the number and the password).
Change is difficult. Do you have a joint checking account yet?!
Sprint doesn't require a password, but it does take forever to get to my message(s). Geez, answering machines were easier than cell phone voice mails are today! So much for convenience.
I have cingular in MD, and it doesn't ask me for a password... but it does annoy me that i can't delete messages until it's completely done playing it... sometimes I don't want to hang on and listen to the whole thing!!
MY husband and I just went family plan on cingular also after almost 5 years together!