etiquette: telephone 101

Just a quick informal poll: You’re calling someone for the first time who has no reason to expect a phone call from you. Once they answer, how would you–the caller–begin your part of the call?

  1. I’m calling for Jon Dough.
  2. May I speak to Jon Dough?
  3. Jon Dough?
  4. Hello, this is [name] with [company] calling for Mister Jon Dough.

Some recent callers to my iPhone

Even if you work for a company that uses an autodialer*, I’m guessing you would pick d. And yet, the most recent unrecognized, unknown or blocked number calls I’ve gotten in the past week have been more in the a-c region.

The top phone call on the image associated with this post was from Pepco calling about the results of a survey. I answered, said “Hello…?” and waited as the autodialer connected with someone that said my first name with the up-talked inflection. He didn’t identify himself and only did so after I asked–twice–“Who’s calling, please?” The call was innocent enough and no big deal, but I’m not normally inclined to answer calls from numbers I don’t recognize. The only reason I’m doing so now is I’m expecting some deliveries in the next week.

Speaking of which… those Blocked numbers? Those were from the delivery company that has some items from IKEA for me. I see a blocked number and I don’t bother answering the phone figuring that if it’s important, they’ll leave a message. Since I got no messages, I figured it wasn’t important! When I finally called IKEA and had them connect me to the delivery company, the conversation was something like this:

Them: “Oh… yeah, that might have been our autodialer. It doesn’t normally leave a message, but we’ve been trying to call you since the first!”
Me: “So, you called from a blocked number, with a service that doesn’t leave a message. How did you expect to get in touch with me?”
Them: … silence.
Me: “Yeah.”

I know it may sound kinda old school, but these are the telephone rules most of us learned growing up. If you’re a friend calling me, you can start off with “Hey!” or my first name even if you don’t think I have your number because we’ll figure it out in the first few seconds. But on a business call, I don’t think so. Especially when the point of the call is to connect with the caller to give or receive some important information, possibly leading to the successful completion of a business transaction.

This is a no-brainer and I guarantee that I will call you–pun intended–on it every single time. I once told a collection agency “Yep, I see here I have over 20 calls from you and not a single voicemail message. Are ya trying to get paid… or just harass me?”** The only reason I’m being nice right now is that I need my furniture. After that, no more answering numbers that I don’t recognize, especially non-local, Unknown and Blocked ones. Since either AT&T or my iPhone appears to have no means to block incoming calls from no-number lines, nor can I assign those calls a “silent” ringtone, y’all can keep calling and I can keep ignoring ya. It’ll be like a game! :mrgreen:

* Unless it’s a collections agency.

** I worked for a credit card bank and am very familiar with the collections process. To be honest, sometimes I just like to make them sweat it out.

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