Is it rude to call people back who don't leave a message?

In this age of caller ID, we often get calls from people we know who don’t leave messages. Unless it’s someone I’m really close to (Mr. Athena, my mother, etc) I don’t often return the call unless they’ve left a message. I’m not sure why - it just seems rude somehow. I figure if they want me to call back, they’ll leave a message. Otherwise, wait for them to call back. Is this weird? What do you do?

I routinely hang up when I get someone’s answering machine or voice mail. If I need to reach them, I’ll call later. I’d be surprised if someone returned a message I didn’t leave, but I wouldn’t think they were rude for doing it.

At night I work at a marketing research company and we have a big call centre. (As a little FYI, before anyone flames me to a crisp, we just do surveys - we don’t sell anything). Anyhoo, we have about 200 outgoing lines, all of which register as the central phone line on call display.

Every night I have conversations like this:

Them: “I just got a call from this number, why?”

Me: “Did the caller leave a message to call back?”

T: “No.”

M: “Then why did you?”

T: “Um, I dunno.”

M: “Right. Well, we have about 200 people working here, and I have no idea which one phoned you.”

T: “But why would they call me.”

M: “I don’t know; however, next time you could try answering if you’re that interested.”

T: “Oh.”

M: “Right. Goodbye.”

T: “Right.”

Every night. If you want to know who’s calling, answer the damn phone fer crying out loud.


Actually, I’m one of the people who do that. If I don’t have something important to say, but would like to talk to the person I called just for the pleasure of his or her company, I don’t leave a message. If it’s something like arranging plans for later or some such I do. As far as I’m concerned, I’d be very happy if you called back, but it’s not essential.

$.02 USD

Hmm, Its funny you should post this becuase I often hang up counting on the fact that they will see me on caller ID and call me back.

I hate talking to machines myself.:frowning:

I never return calls unless they leave a message. I figure if it was important, they’d leave a message. Ussually it’s ‘just to talk’ calls, anyhow. Although I do have a friend who expect me to call her back because she know’s I have Caller ID. I tell her to leave a message then. I use the Caller ID more for screening calls, so I rarely check it to see who called when I’ve been out…

I would like to register my vote for please don’t call me back if I don’t leave a message. It seems intrusive to me; I am quite capable of leaving a message if there is a reason to leave a message, and I often have reasons for not leaving messages. Calling me back just because my number shows up on your caller id irritates me. I don’t like answering the phone or talking on the phone; if I wanted a call, I would ask for one.

Gotta love caller ID.

Now and then I get an obvious “wrong number” but the person is too inconsiderate to even acknowledge (their) mistake and hangs up on me. Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball.

Well, I got your number. Using the handy *67 “block” feature, I call them up, and hang up on them right away, loudly. 'Bout damn time. Juvenile? Probably. Cathartic? Yes.

Yes, it is inconsiderate. You are calling somebody who doesn’t have anything to say to you (otherwise they would have -should have- left a message). Unless you have something to say to them, you are wasting their time.

Nothing in this world wastes time like a telephone.

I find the whole concept of Caller ID slightly creepy, though not for any rational reason I could defend. I wouldn’t say it’s rude to call someone back, per se, just a little icky. I guess I need to adjust my perceptions of how much information people get about me when I dial their number.

I agree with SHAKES, my friends know I have CallerID, so they know I would call them back. Most of the
time, if I don’t know the name on the ID they are people who call the wrong number…

I answer the phone for an office with six folks in it, who are constantly in and out of the office. About once a week someone calls here and says, “Hi. Someone called me from this number.”

“Well, whoop-de-fuckin-doo!” I shout. “You win a prize for being so damn special!”

That’s what I want to say, anyway. In reality, I ask them who might have called. Invariably, they have no idea, so I go and ask everyone who’s in the office if they called this person. And also invariably, nobody in the office called this schmoe. So I call back and tell them this, and point out to them that if the person needs to get in touch with them, they’ll call back. And the person, vaguely dissatisfied, thanks me and hangs up.

It annoys the bejeesus out of me.


My theory has always been, if it’s important, they’ll call back–but if they didn’t leave a message, it clearly wasn’t all that important to begin with.

Behavior that ties into that theory: I tend to let the machine pick up most calls (much of that, however, is because I still don’t have caller ID), and my cell phone is only turned on when I’m actually calling on it. More and more, I’m becoming adamant that my phones are for my convenience–not everyone else’s.

Am I misreading this? Particularly “If I wanted a call, I would ask for one”. If you didn’t want a call WTF did you call in the first place? Secondly if your (original) call was unsolicited then aren’t you breaking your own rule?

Wow! You get off easy! I would insist that you explain to me under what circumstances could a representative of your company call my number and not leave a message when they are invited to do so?

And if you weren’t prepared/able to, then your supervisor would.

I can’t be alone in thinking that the attitude “Me” portrayed in your pantomime phone call stinks?

BTW, I am really happy for my friends to not leave a message – particulalrly on my cell phone where collecting/deleting/reviewing/managing voicemail is achieved through the clunkiest of interfaces. I just wouldn’t expect a bunch of attitude when I call them back.

I’m curious as to why you find it necessary to mislead the return caller. When they ask why you called, couldn’t you simply say “We would like you to participate in a survey”?

Personally, I find people who don’t leave a message very annoying, especially when the call is unsolicited. There are some telemarketers who have their equipment programmed to hang up if they get an answering machine, and just keep calling back until somebody answers. When they finally get through, they often either mislead you about the purpose of the call, or talk without pause so as not to give you a chance to say “no, thanks”. They literally force me to be rude to them.

If you are a telemarketer, and someone calls you back, they are most likely trying to find out who keeps calling and hanging up w/o leaving a message, so they can put a stop to it.

And alice_in_wonderland - I’m sensing that you don’t understand people’s irritation at being called at home for a “survey”, since you made a point of the fact that you aren’t “selling” anything. I don’t really see a distinction there - it’s still an unwanted intrusion into that person’s home. It’s fine if that’s what you want to do for a living, but I wouldn’t be indignant about it when people are bothered by your cold calls.

I have Caller ID but no answering machine (I know, I know), and therefore have a lot of friends who anticipate that I’ll see their number on the ID and call back.

However, I think that if I DID have a machine/voice mail, I would probably only call back under certain circumstances (i.e., I see on the ID that I’ve gotten a call from a friend who I know hates answering machines, it’s someone to whom I haven’t spoken in awhile/someone I’ve been meaning to call anyway, or I’ve just discovered that OOPS! my machine/voice mail box is full, so perhaps people weren’t able to leave messages). Otherwise I, like other folks here, would assume that no message = no big deal. And I would never return a call to a number I didn’t recognize (there just ain’t enough hours in the day).

However, I also agree with posters who’ve said, “Hey, if you’re gonna call ME, turnabout is fair play.” And I agree that alice_in_wonderland could be a bit more polite…

And, FTR, while I regard Caller ID as a must-have convenience these days, I must say that it has thrown a huge rusty wrench into Telephonic Relations As We Knew Them When…

There’s no more crank-calling the nose-picking history teacher at slumber parties.

There’s no more blessing of total strangers with their 18th “Prince Albert in a Can” call in a month.

There’s no more Drunk Dialing The Ex Without Consequences.

I once had a friend who was under the mistaken impression that Caller ID showed only the number of the last person who’d called. So, after an evening of Shameles Repeated Drunk Dialing of her ex boyfriend (who was not at home… or, at any rate, didn’t pick up), she comforted herself with the “knowledge” that he would only know that she’d called once, and perhaps not even know that, if he’d gotten a call from someone else after her last attempt to call him.

That’s when she and I had “The Talk”, and I explained to her How Caller ID Works.

Should have seen her face, poor thing. :frowning:

The Great Unwashed said: “I would insist that you explain to me under what circumstances could a representative of your company call my number and not leave a message when they are invited to do so? And if you weren’t prepared/able to, then your supervisor would.”

If you didn’t have your location listed I would have thought you were the person who called me three times when I once accidentally mis-dialed and called your (not you, TGU) number, apologized that I had the wrong number, and hung up. You (not TGU) called back three times wanting to know who I was and why was I calling your house. Oops, I mis-dialed, give me a friggin’ break! Just because you’re (etc.) suspicious that your husband has some phone ringing system with his mistress and I must be that mistress don’t be calling me three times and copping an attitude with me.

And how about the time I called your house because you were on my call list to ask if you wanted to participate in a social event, but I had to know right then and I only needed an estimate anyway. So I didn’t leave a message on your machine. Why did you have to call me back twice to tell me that there was a call from this number to your machine! How paranoid and self-important. Piss off.

I’m flabbergasted that it’s rude to NOT leave a message, according to some folks. Eh?

As I said, people in my office often make lots of calls without leaving messages. They might be calling volunteers to staff an event over the weekend; if they’re calling 100 volunteers, they might not leave messages for everyone. Or they might be soliciting ads for a benefit program we’re running, or they might be calling to gather information from neighbors on a roaming dog, or they might be doing any number of things that they don’t necessarily want to leave a message for.

If someone doesn’t leave a message when they have the option of doing so, why not take it at face value? Why not assume that they’ll call back if they need to talk to you?

Instead, when you call me and tell me that someone called you from this number, you give me precious little to work with. You’re wasting your own time and mine.


It would never occur to me to call back a number I didn’t recognize, or one that I did if they didn’t leave a message. I always assume that if they didn’t leave a message, they don’t want a call back.

I don’t get people who’ll call people back (especially when they don’t know who the person is) and essentially “demand” an explanation for the call. Loosen up people, and get a life.

I don’t get where the attitude is coming from. You’re the one calling and disturbing people at home. Yeah, it’s just for a survey, you’re not selling anything, but it’s an intrusion nonetheless. You gotta expect some attitude, a similar reaction that a telemarketer would get. If people calling you back are THAT annoying, maybe ya’ll should leave messages so people know why you’re calling night after night (which you probably do if they don’t answer. They’re on a list right?)

Ditto! :slight_smile:

And, no, it’s not rude to call people back who don’t leave a message. But I rarely bother.