Sunday, September 09, 2007

Open Letter

Dear People Who Dial Wrong Numbers,

Just to inform you, proper etiquette after dialing a wrong number is to apologize and hang up your telephone. If you are calling a number you have recently been given, you may also confirm whether you mis-dialed or have been given the wrong number. For example, here is how it should go:


“Hi, can I speak to (insert name here) please.”

“I’m sorry, you’ve got the wrong number.”

“Oh, I’m sorry, is this (phone number)?”

“Nope, this is (phone number).”

“Oh, ok, sorry to bother you.”

“No problem, bye.”


See how nice a polite that is? Unfortunately, this almost never happens. In the past few weeks I’ve experienced the following:

1) The hang up.

The second I tell you that you have a wrong number, you put the phone down. What? No apology? It’s not like you’ve committed some major offence or anything, but I would appreciate you at least acknowledging I exist. Are you honestly that embarrassed?

2) The pissed off caller.

Listen, to be completely honest, I don’t care if this was the number you were given. I don’t care if you’ve been trying to get in touch with this person for a week. Guess what? Both you and the person you’re trying to contact are complete strangers to me, so I don’t really care.

Remember, you’ve called me and disturbed my evening because you don’t know how to work a phone, or some third party gave you a wrong number. The only person in this situation who has the right to be even slightly annoyed is me. What should I have done? Just psychically known you were a wrong number and somehow redirected you to the right person? If I had that kind of talent, I’d have a servant to answer the phone for me.

If you approached me on the street, mistaking me for someone else, would that be my fault as well?

3) The argumentative caller.

You call and ask for someone I’ve never heard of. You respond by insisting that my number was the number you were given, so I must be mistaken. I tell you that you’ve called a private residence, and only me and my wife live here…but you keep insisting that some guy or girl I’ve never heard of must live in my house.

What do you honestly think I’m going to do? Argue with you for 15 minutes and then say “Wait! I just remembered, that girl does live here! It’s my wife! I just totally forgot her name. Boy, is my face red! Hang on a minute and I’ll get her.”

Believe it or not, I have the mental faculties to know who does and does not live in my house. Get it? I mean, totally forgetting who I live with is way more plausible than you misreading a phone number, or the person who gave it to you writing it down wrong, right?

Just keep arguing, I’m sure to hand the phone to the person you want to talk to eventually.

Oh, and confirming the number with me does not make you right. It confirms you can’t read or that the person who gave it to you is numerically dyslexic. Like the pissed off caller, I don’t care how pissed you are at the guy you’re trying to call…it’s just not my problem.

Thank you for your attention.



MC Etcher said...

I combat this by not answering the phone unless I recognize the caller via the caller id display. This does result in some phone tag for would-be employers, but it's worth it to avoid the telemarketers.

Paulius said...

I usually do the same thing...however, with recent events, there's been a ton of friends and family calling that I've never met, so I tend to answer

manda said...

I have to answer calls, because a lot of people's numbers I don't have stored. I got a wrong number the other day. The guy goes Hi!. I'm like hi? He goes.. hi!.. I'm like yeah who is this? He says oh sorry wrong number. click.

I think I've actually had a conversation with a wrong number. I thought they were someone else, and they thought I was who they wanted to talk to. It was.. interesting to say the least.