Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Burning question: Phone calling etiquette

Okay, faithful readers, lurkers and random passers-by who turn up from the vast expanses of the internet, I have a burning question for you.

What time of day is the earliest/latest you think is appropriate to call someone on the phone? I'm not talking about family or friends, nor am I talking about telemarketing (there's NEVER an appropriate time for them, is there?!). I mean for business or other such more "formal" stuff. For example, church related business or PTA/school related business.

I ask because I'm in charge of Kiddo's elementary school's Fall Harvest Fun House, and I therefore need to organize many, many volunteers to assist with the event. Now, here at Casa Smith, we tend to go to bed on the earlier side than most people. I'm aware that not everyone out there is ZZZZZing at 9pm, but that's not unusual for us! (On the other end of things, our alarm clock is set for 5:30am, so it isn't like we're utter sloths. Early to bed and early to rise and all that..........)

I've always thought that 8:30am was the earliest one should call a non-family-member-or-friend. I'm a little hazier on the evening. I don't like calling people after 7, personally, but I don't think it is rude to call someone before 8pm. The added wrinkle I'm stressing about is the fact that these obviously are parents of younger kids - I mean, the school is pre-K through 2nd grade - and therefore they, like us, are dealing with baths and bedtime in the evening hours, and then sleeping kids. I would never call anyone after 9pm unless it was an emergency, or unless I knew for an absolute fact that it was okay to call that late. But then, if you call between, say, 5:30 and 7, you are potentially running into people's dinner time, and that is equally intrusive and impolite.

At this point, I'm using email as my initial contact since I have email addresses for all but one of the volunteers. My back-up plan is to just call folks during the day, which will likely mean leaving many, many voicemails. Of course, the flip side of this is that we will have to deal with the return phone calls. I don't like saying "please don't call my house after 7pm...." but I have done that before, and am thinking maybe I should again. Last night, our phone rang twice after 8pm, as Hubby and I were finishing up dinner and heading to bed.

So? What do you think? How late would you call folks if you were me? What is considered rude? What do you think if someone calls your house after 8pm? Help!


Pennies In My Pocket said...

Oh this is a great question...makes me think. So many factors to consider. Well, for ME this is my rule. I won't call anyone BEFORE 9am UNLESS I know for sure they get up (usually meaning they DO have kids) early. I try not to call after 8pm or 8:30 at the latest. If I am calling someone and don't want them to call after a specific time I'll say something like, "You can reach me before 7pm during the week." That way it's not saying, "I hate talking to ANYONE on the phone later in the evening" hahaha


Oh and I totally have a blogathon hangover today! lol That was too much fun~

Eudea-Mamia said...

Great questions. First let me thank you for even realizing there are good and bad times - some are not so, shall we say, tuned in.

I totally agree with Melody (hmm, imagine that ;-)) (that's a smiley with closed parenth. not a double chin).

A family rule, that we have discussed with friends, is 9 - 9.

I think your e-mail idea is actually best, except of course for the few you don't have, I'd call during the day and leave a message. And I love how Melody worded that "I can be reached until 7" thing. We've told friends that if it's after 7, don't get mad if we don't pick up. If it's an emergency, ring twice.

Pass the Alka-seltzer - blogathon, ouch!


P.S. and on that note - aren't you just miss popular, missy!? Major kudos to you and your incredible writing talent!!

Kaye said...

My rule with my friends is 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. I have an aunt that thinks she can buzz us at 6 a.m., kid you not! If I had your situation, I would say earlier than 9 p.m. Perhaps everyone would like to receive e-mails rather than calls. With kids, no time in the evening is really good with bathing, etc. Maybe 8?

Texan Mama @ Who Put Me In Charge said...

Great question. I agree, 9am till 9pm. I know y'all go to bed at 9pm, but surely you must realize you are in the minority. Not that there's anything wrong with going to bed at that hour, just realize that many people don't, so if someone calls you at 8:55, they may be the type that goes to be at 2am and gets up at 10am (like my husband).

I agree, leave a message of "I can be reached until 7pm. After that I will be busy getting Kiddo to bed and going to bed myself. If you can't reach me then, you can email me at blah blah blah..."

One other side to think about: I often make calls between 8pm and 9pm because my kids go to bed at 8pm, so that's the first moment I have free after school, dinner, clean-up, homework, bedtime ritual, tucking in, singing, stories, and 3 rounds of "I said to get back in bed NOW!!!" I know it seems late but that's really my "free time".

One last option: after 7pm turn your phone ringer off and let your machine get it. You can even record your message to say, "If you're calling after 7pm we might be home but not answering the phone so we can have uninterrupted "family time"."

Carrie said...

9-9 is my answer also. When I worked in telemarketing about 10 years ago, that was actually the law in the state I worked in.

Me, I'm pretty much always up late. Except while I was prego, then bedtime was before 9 p.m., say noon? " )

Paige said...

I do not like my house phone to ring at all--it scares me. And I do not like phone calls on any phone after 9 pm. Hell, who am I kidding, I dont like phone calls!

I think business should be done between 9 am and 8 pm at the latest

kwr221 said...

Hmmm, my ideas on this have definitely changed over time.

When I was young and single, I tok calls until 11 PM. Often after 11, as that's when my parents would call because the rates went down. (Am I dating myself?)

Anyway, as you kids get older, your calling window goes later.

I think 8:30 AM until 8:30 PM is MY personal preference, but I don't think it's rude unless I get non-family calls after 9:30 PM.

If it's before 8:30 AM, it better be family or a work emergency.

After 10 or 11PM, I start to think family medical emergency.

I don't like calls during dinner hours; and frankly, after dinner I just get too lazy and cranky to talk to anyone.

Did I mention that I LOVE email?

But an 8:00 bedtime for you and hubby? Wow, you guys must be having fun ;-)

Anonymous said...

I have to go with 9am -9pm.

And I have no problem ignoring the phone during dinner or when we are busy.

and what is up with people not having email these days?!

Outnumbered2to1 said...

If my phone rings at nine pm or later I immediately get a sick feeling and think, "Who died?" But I'm ultra dramatic this way. If I could do ALL correspondence by e-mail I would in a heart beat. I hate the phone!

My name is Andy. said...

Great timing on the post! I just did my "welcome to the school" phone calls to new families tonight! My rule for this type of thing is to call only between 7:00 PM and 8:30 PM. I don't like to call during the day, but have no real reason why (I'm odd, you knew this though!)

WheresMyAngels said...

Now me, I like all my phone calls after 9pm, because that is when my kids are in bed. I'm up til at least 1 am most nights (sometimes I will got to sleep by 12) and I am a early riser, I have to be up by 6am. Saturdays are my days to sleep in and I sleep til 11am, to catch up on all that I have missed. I HATE when I get a phone call before 11 on a sat!

Lylah M. Alphonse said...

I tend to call non-family people during standard business-y hours (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) and, if they're not there, leave them a message asking that they call me back, and give them the times when it's easiest to reach me (usually when I'm on my cell phone commuting to or from work... breakin' the law, breakin' the law).

I love email best, though.

Melodie said...

Ordinarily, I wouldn't call someone before 9:00 AM, but since these people obviously have to get up to get their kiddos off to school in the morning, I'd say it's safe to start calling about 15-20 minutes after school starts in the morning. And I would never call after 8 PM.

Andrea said...

Well, we solved that problem by moving to a foreign country where we don't speak the language and don't give out our number :)
Sorry that wasn't helpful. I'd say after 8 would be rude, my dd is a very freaky light sleeper who takes forever to fall asleep. The phone wakes her in a heartbeat. However hubby does get calls for work after 9 and that bugs me big time but they only call his mobile. And he has clients from Brazil to Russia soo.. I try to be nice.
As for in the am, not before 8:30. We don't sleep in but a lot of people do.
I think it's perfectly ok to say 'we don't usually accept calls after such and such a time'. I'd try to use email if you can. It's easier anyway.

Smoochiefrog said...

No calls after 9PM here.

Now I'm sure you wouldn't care at all if George were calling you after 9 now would you?

Yeah, Mark can call me at whatever time he wants to too. :)

sandy said...

SITS said to check out the person in front of me at roll call and that was you:)

I don't like calls before 9am or after 9pm. Any earlier or later and my internal panic alarm goes off.

mommaof4wife2r said...

ok...i get too many calls at the wrong time. i prefer the 'don't answer if you don't wanna talk' way of things. just my idea...prob wrong tho.

Anonymous said...

I would say weekdays-9am earliest and weekends-10am earliest. Probably 8pm latest everyday.

Anonymous said...

...please where can I buy a unicorn?