Should I bother to return wrong-number phone calls?

I moved recently, so I have a new phone number. Whoever had this phone number before must not have told anybody (especially their telemarketers ;)) that they had moved, because I get a lot of wrong numbers here.

What is really annoying is when the people calling leave messages for these people on my voice mail. One was a confirmation for a doctor’s appointment. OK, I could see how that could happen, especially if the appointment was made a long time ago. I tried to call the doctor back to tell them they had the wrong number, but their voice mail system was so insurmountable (when I found and selected the “talk to a human” option, it hung up on me) that I gave up. (Good thing I wasn’t some sick person!) I hope they remembered their appointment.

OK, now I’ve got a new one for “Lance” (no last name). It’s an urgent call from Chase Manhattan Mortgage. Here is my question. Should I bother trying to call Chase Manhattan Mortgage back to tell them that there is no “Lance” here? Will they even know who Lance is, since I don’t have a last name? Will they believe me? (I doubt an urgent call from the mortgage company is good news.) Should I just wait and see if they call again? I’d like to be helpful and courteous, and yet I don’t want to waste my time.

I’ve got our last name and phone number on our outgoing message? Would it help if I added our first names? (I doubt that Lance has the same last name as we do–it’s not extremely common.)

I don’t think it’ll matter very much whether you have your full names on the outgoing message; well, maybe a little, but some callers will ignore that information completely.
I’ve received a series of wrong number calls for the last three years at my current address, and although they’ve lessened they’ve not stopped completely. I had a ton of calls for a Robert from a loan company, which I ignored (they no longer call), and recently had one at about 4 am (I was in the shower, getting ready for a morning flight) from a hospital telling me someone I did not know had died. I probably should have returned that one, but was running out of time to get to the airport.
I’d say it’s a judgment call as to what calls you take it upon yourself to return; chances are, if you don’t return it the first time, you’ll get another call.

Quick answer: No.
Reasonable answer: Use your judgment.

I was in the same kind of situation once. Given that I announced my number on my outgoing message, I figured that even if they heard that they had the wrong number and still left a message, they deserved what they got: nothing.

But if by some chance, they sounded like they honestly didn’t get the fact that they were calling the wrong number, I’d call them back. And after checking with the phone company and a few other sources, I confirmed that the automatic directory assistance did occasionally make mistakes.

So, the urgent call from Chase Manhattan for Lance might merit a return call (“I don’t know Lance; he doesn’t live here; take my phone number off his file”). I think you made a reasonable attempt at reaching the doctor; I wouldn’t worry about it further. Most of the calls I used to get: from the drunks, the telemarketers, and anybody else who called without some kind of urgency (and no, I didn’t think that needing to talk with Brittany immediately because Todd called Jennifer earlier qualified as “urgent”), can probably be safely ignored.

Just as an aside, some wrong-number callers can be amazingly stubborn. If I was there to take the call, some would not believe that they had the wrong number, and insisted on leaving me messages and particulars.

I have not returned calls for other people from businesses (i.e., from People Demanding Money), but I have picked up the phone to tell them that there’s nobody named Jenny (I get repeated creditor calls for her, and for some guy named Thomas) at this number…

…they don’t listen. They probably figure I’m Jenny and am just trying to get them to stop calling.

I did call a wrong number back once, however, because a very distraught sounding girl had left a message on my machine, asking the person she thought she’d called if they could have breakfast together soon. She said things hadn’t been going well lately, and she really needed someone to talk to…

Well. I didn’t want the poor girl to think that on top of her other problems, her friend was blowing her off, so I called (and left a message on her machine) to tell her that she’d dialed a wrong number, so the fact that she hadn’t heard back from her friend didn’t mean she was being dissed.

The SO cracked the hell up, all the while shaking his head, but what can I say…? Some of us are just better people than others. :stuck_out_tongue:

The only one I returned was to a Dr office - and they were grateful to get the info. If I happened to answer, I’d inform the caller that Mrs. Whatnot was no longer at that number and that seemed to take care of it. It did amaze me, tho, that even 3 years later, we were getting calls asking for her by name.