Telephone and email ettiquette, revisited

One morning last week, Terry and I returned home from the gym to discover the light on the answerphone flashing. Amongst the usual work-related messages that had been left (for Terry, obviously, not for me. Because I don’t actually “do” phone calls.) was a message from a Mystery Woman. “Please call me back,” said the Mystery Woman, in heavily accented English, before giving her number and then hanging up. It was actually quite thrilling, to be honest, like the start of an adventure novel which sees our intrepid, titian haired heroine travel the world, battling against the clock to solve the Mystery of the Mysterious Caller. Oh no, wait… I’m confusing myself with Nancy Drew again. Sorry. Where was I?

So, the Mystery Woman left her number.  And that was it. No salutation, no indication of who she was, or what she was calling about – nothing to even tell us which one of us she was trying to reach. I mean, it could have been Rubin for all we knew. He gets a lot of calls like that: some of his friends have no manners AT ALL, really.

Well, Terry and I thought about this for about two seconds (and I Twittered about it, obviously), and decided that, nah, if it was THAT important to her, she’d surely call back. And she did. And do you know who our Mystery Caller was?

She was a telemarketer.

Yes, she wanted US to call HER, so she could try and talk us into buying something we didn’t want or need. Seriously, how cheeky is that? Very cheeky, I’d say. It’s bad enough that they call us all day long (Yes, we signed up to the Telephone Preference Service, but it doesn’t apply to business numbers, which ours is, and it also doesn’t stop people calling you from foreign call centres.) but  expecting us to call them back? Seriously?

I thought this was a one off. But then yesterday night, an email flooded in. The subject line said “Can you call XXXXX?” (Company name removed to protect the very guilty) The body of the email contained… well, nothing, actually, other than the email signature of the person who sent it, which included the person’s phone number.

Well, of course I COULD phone that company. But the thing is, I didn’t want to. Not with my new knowledge of the way certain telemarketers have apparently started to operate, anyway, and actually, not before then either, to be honest, because I think it’s just horribly rude for a complete stranger to demand that you call them without saying why. No?

Instead, I emailed the person back to ask why they wanted to speak to me. This one turned out NOT to be a telemarketer. He was, however, a journalist who wanted my help (in the form of some quotes) for an article he was writing, and he went about asking for this help in just about the rudest way possible – and I say this as a former journalist myself. My rule of thumb when dealing with people like this is that if they can’t be bothered to be even reasonably polite when they’re asking for my help I can’t be bothered to help them. So I stopped replying to his emails, and when I got home from the gym this morning, I discovered that he had tried to call me no less than nine times. NINE. TIMES. Because, as we all know, if someone is out when you call them, phoning back repeatedly, at three minute intervals, is the best way to make them magically re-appear. Only not really, obviously.

The lesson in all of this? It pays to be polite. Also, if we didn’t have to have a phone for business reasons, I’d throw ours out of the window.  Twice.