Author Topic: If You Call After Business Hours - You Do Not Have a Scheduled Appointment  (Read 9063 times)

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shhh its me

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I wouldn't have called Lisa in. I would have told the student that I hadn't received her message as of 4:30 the previous evening, therefore she didn't actually have an appointment. I would then offer to make an appointment for her, at a time convenient for both the student and Lisa.

POD.  Someone needed to put on their listening ears, listen to messages and grow up. 
OP: 
What this person asked is ridiculous and a good example of fallout from the cell phone generation where so many *have* to be available 24/7.  I'm sure to many it comes as a shock that some professionals want to keep work to set hours and outside those hours they are off with no contact with the workplace (unless on call).  I would not have called anyone for this person, she needed to make an appointment, to do otherwise is to feed the entitlement monster.  I have a sense that perhaps she even thought it was the OP's "fault" no appointment was made because the OP didn't keep up with her phone calls.  There are a lot of people who just don't understand that just because you can be available 24/7 there are still people who don't want to be.

But isn't OP (and us) expecting to call someone at 8 30 am and to get a call back the same day before 4pm the exact same 24/7 availability expectation?

Yvaine

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I wouldn't have called Lisa in. I would have told the student that I hadn't received her message as of 4:30 the previous evening, therefore she didn't actually have an appointment. I would then offer to make an appointment for her, at a time convenient for both the student and Lisa.

POD.  Someone needed to put on their listening ears, listen to messages and grow up. 
OP: 
What this person asked is ridiculous and a good example of fallout from the cell phone generation where so many *have* to be available 24/7.  I'm sure to many it comes as a shock that some professionals want to keep work to set hours and outside those hours they are off with no contact with the workplace (unless on call).  I would not have called anyone for this person, she needed to make an appointment, to do otherwise is to feed the entitlement monster.  I have a sense that perhaps she even thought it was the OP's "fault" no appointment was made because the OP didn't keep up with her phone calls.  There are a lot of people who just don't understand that just because you can be available 24/7 there are still people who don't want to be.

This is kind of funny because aren't you assuming that the student was available 24/7, that she was neglectful in responding because she should have had her cell phone on her/email access and responded within working hours dictated by the OP with little notice? But this 24/7 availability (which aparantly does not really exist since she was unable to respond) is what is corrupting her at the same time? So, she's to be available 24/7, but deities forbid she leave a message after hours!

Your first statement is rather insulting to those of us who have said that the message was unclear and we would have shown up as well. I consider myself "grown up" and consider showing up the more mature choice because it's preferable to being a no-show when I'm not sure if Lisa is still available.

It is on the student to be available using common sense.  She's the one that wants something so it falls to her to be available by whatever means necessary.  My common sense would tell me that a recorded message left at 9:30 at night to an office whose recorded message tells callers the office is closed would not be heard by anyone until the next morning.  I would know that I needed to call first thing in the morning to see what was going on.  If I decided to show up in person I would do so to make an appointment, not expecting that an appointment had actually been made due to my calling after hours.  If the person was in and could see that would be a bonus, but I would not expect it.

If you do go back to before cell phones and the presumption of 24/7 availability, the OP's office calling the day before would never work. They'd call on Tuesday, and if the student was at class or work until after the office closed, she wouldn't even get the message until it was too late to call OP back at the office. So she'd either call early Wednesday or come in at 8:30, and in either case, find out that Lisa had never come in. If you want to be annoyed that the student assumed 24/7 availability, I think you have to be annoyed at Lisa too. Her whole plan assumed the student could get a call during work/school hours.

shhh its me

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This is where the student, and many posters, are losing me.  When I am on the phone with a doctor's office, they may say, "I have 8:30 or 12:00 available."  I would then reply, "The 12:00 works best for me."  Usually, the receptionist would reply, "OK, I have you down for 12:00."  When OP said she had 8:30 or 9:00 available, why does that mean the appointment is made?  The OP never said, "We will see you at 8:30 or 9:00", so why would anyone assume the appointment is set?  I have never heard of someone offering two (or more) times meaning the appointment is made in any setting, whether it was a casual get together or a meeting with a teacher.  Where from is this assumption coming?  Genuine question because I truly don't understand why someone would make that assumption.

Because the next sentence is "call me if neither time works for you" which implies that if you can make one of the two times given you don't need to call back. Not knowing how the office works and depending on when the OP called I would assume that the person is there and has two free slots and doesn't expect to fill both of them so showing up to either is fine. I would call back and confirm which slot I wanted, but if I got the message after hours I would leave a message and show up the next morning. I would be polite and understanding if I was told that I didn't have any appointment but I would also consider the message left to be confusing if what the OP really meant was "Call to confirm your appointment - if it isn't confirmed by 4:30 today then call between 8;30 and 4:30 tomorrow to set a new time"

I think if the times were hours apart it would have been less possible to misunderstand.  I also agree it was closing with "If you can't make it either of those times call."  that could reasonable negate "Call to make an appointment.".   

I've made plenty of tentative appointments with people for times I would be in the office and it sounds exactly like OPs message.  I'm not sure the person will show up until I get confirmation but I also don't double book the time slot until I get a cancellation/without waring. 


lowspark

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This is where the student, and many posters, are losing me.  When I am on the phone with a doctor's office, they may say, "I have 8:30 or 12:00 available."  I would then reply, "The 12:00 works best for me."  Usually, the receptionist would reply, "OK, I have you down for 12:00."  When OP said she had 8:30 or 9:00 available, why does that mean the appointment is made?  The OP never said, "We will see you at 8:30 or 9:00", so why would anyone assume the appointment is set?  I have never heard of someone offering two (or more) times meaning the appointment is made in any setting, whether it was a casual get together or a meeting with a teacher.  Where from is this assumption coming?  Genuine question because I truly don't understand why someone would make that assumption.

Because the next sentence is "call me if neither time works for you" which implies that if you can make one of the two times given you don't need to call back. Not knowing how the office works and depending on when the OP called I would assume that the person is there and has two free slots and doesn't expect to fill both of them so showing up to either is fine. I would call back and confirm which slot I wanted, but if I got the message after hours I would leave a message and show up the next morning. I would be polite and understanding if I was told that I didn't have any appointment but I would also consider the message left to be confusing if what the OP really meant was "Call to confirm your appointment - if it isn't confirmed by 4:30 today then call between 8;30 and 4:30 tomorrow to set a new time"

Regarding the bolded, the OP has clarified by posting an exact transcript of the message she left:

Thanks, guys.  I can see how my OP wording might have been confusing to the student so I went back to my outgoing messages to check the wording I used and discovered I said this:

Lisa has appointments available at either 8:30 am or 9:00 am on Wednesday.  I know this is short notice, but since the semester starts next week (student had only completed her paperwork on Monday) we'd like to schedule an interview.  Please call me at ### to let me know which time is best for you.  If you can't make either time, please let me know if there is a better time to arrange the interview.  My office hours are M-F, 8:00 am-4:30 pm

So in fact, she didn't say, "call me if neither works", she said, "call me to tell me which time you want OR if neither works."

As far as being available 24/7, if we go under the (reasonable) assumption that neither of them expected the other one to answer the phone 24/7, then it makes no sense for the student to show up five minutes after the office opens after leaving an after hours message.

Even if OP had picked up the student's message at 8, it still would be cutting it pretty close to confirm the 8:30 appointment. I do agree that it would have been better for the OP to give a deadline, "call me back by 4 pm today to schedule for tomorrow." But it seems to me that when the student showed up at the office at 8:05 am, she had to know that the OP had, at best, received the 9:30 pm message within the last five minutes.


Yvaine

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This is where the student, and many posters, are losing me.  When I am on the phone with a doctor's office, they may say, "I have 8:30 or 12:00 available."  I would then reply, "The 12:00 works best for me."  Usually, the receptionist would reply, "OK, I have you down for 12:00."  When OP said she had 8:30 or 9:00 available, why does that mean the appointment is made?  The OP never said, "We will see you at 8:30 or 9:00", so why would anyone assume the appointment is set?  I have never heard of someone offering two (or more) times meaning the appointment is made in any setting, whether it was a casual get together or a meeting with a teacher.  Where from is this assumption coming?  Genuine question because I truly don't understand why someone would make that assumption.

Because the next sentence is "call me if neither time works for you" which implies that if you can make one of the two times given you don't need to call back. Not knowing how the office works and depending on when the OP called I would assume that the person is there and has two free slots and doesn't expect to fill both of them so showing up to either is fine. I would call back and confirm which slot I wanted, but if I got the message after hours I would leave a message and show up the next morning. I would be polite and understanding if I was told that I didn't have any appointment but I would also consider the message left to be confusing if what the OP really meant was "Call to confirm your appointment - if it isn't confirmed by 4:30 today then call between 8;30 and 4:30 tomorrow to set a new time"

I think if the times were hours apart it would have been less possible to misunderstand.  I also agree it was closing with "If you can't make it either of those times call."  that could reasonable negate "Call to make an appointment.".   

I've made plenty of tentative appointments with people for times I would be in the office and it sounds exactly like OPs message.  I'm not sure the person will show up until I get confirmation but I also don't double book the time slot until I get a cancellation/without waring.

This, and I think she didn't necessarily assume Lisa would get the message at 9:30 pm, but that 9:30 pm was the earliest she could call, and that she thought Lisa would get it when she first got into the office Wednesday morning. And if it were me, and the person didn't call me, I probably would show up anyway just in case. Lisa not coming in at all until 11--after saying she had slots at 8:30 and 9-wouldn't even be on my radar.

Lynn2000

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This is where the student, and many posters, are losing me.  When I am on the phone with a doctor's office, they may say, "I have 8:30 or 12:00 available."  I would then reply, "The 12:00 works best for me."  Usually, the receptionist would reply, "OK, I have you down for 12:00."  When OP said she had 8:30 or 9:00 available, why does that mean the appointment is made?  The OP never said, "We will see you at 8:30 or 9:00", so why would anyone assume the appointment is set?  I have never heard of someone offering two (or more) times meaning the appointment is made in any setting, whether it was a casual get together or a meeting with a teacher.  Where from is this assumption coming?  Genuine question because I truly don't understand why someone would make that assumption.

I can think of a couple different things. One is like wolfie said, that the rest of the message suggested there was no need to respond if one of those times worked for the student. I think if you're having to parse a message for one particular small word or phrase that changes the entire meaning, it was probably a little too ambiguous if you really needed a certain outcome.

Another is that the student did call back and chose one of the offered times; the OP just hadn't gotten that message yet. In the student's response (from 9:30pm) she picked the 8:30am slot, so it would be rather silly of her to not be there at 8:30am, even if she hadn't received a confirmation (IMO). There just wasn't time from when the student chose her slot, for her to wait for the OP to confirm it before showing up.

Also, IME some places don't really expect to give an explicit confirmation, especially if doing so necessitates sending yet another message (as opposed to a real-time conversation). "I have X or Y available," "I choose X," IME a lot of places wouldn't bother to respond but would expect you to show up at X, especially if there was a tight turnaround. It's kind of in the vein of whether you should send an email confirming you got the requested information and everything is okay, or if you should respond only if there's a problem.

Assuming attitudes were polite all around, I don't think anyone did anything rude. It's just that wires got crossed a bit. On the other hand, if the student had an entitled attitude--"Of course I have an appointment at 8:30! What do you mean she isn't here??" that's rude in and of itself. That would be rude even if the OP had confirmed her appointment, but Lisa was called away on an emergency and couldn't make it.
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shhh its me

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This is where the student, and many posters, are losing me.  When I am on the phone with a doctor's office, they may say, "I have 8:30 or 12:00 available."  I would then reply, "The 12:00 works best for me."  Usually, the receptionist would reply, "OK, I have you down for 12:00."  When OP said she had 8:30 or 9:00 available, why does that mean the appointment is made?  The OP never said, "We will see you at 8:30 or 9:00", so why would anyone assume the appointment is set?  I have never heard of someone offering two (or more) times meaning the appointment is made in any setting, whether it was a casual get together or a meeting with a teacher.  Where from is this assumption coming?  Genuine question because I truly don't understand why someone would make that assumption.

Because the next sentence is "call me if neither time works for you" which implies that if you can make one of the two times given you don't need to call back. Not knowing how the office works and depending on when the OP called I would assume that the person is there and has two free slots and doesn't expect to fill both of them so showing up to either is fine. I would call back and confirm which slot I wanted, but if I got the message after hours I would leave a message and show up the next morning. I would be polite and understanding if I was told that I didn't have any appointment but I would also consider the message left to be confusing if what the OP really meant was "Call to confirm your appointment - if it isn't confirmed by 4:30 today then call between 8;30 and 4:30 tomorrow to set a new time"

Regarding the bolded, the OP has clarified by posting an exact transcript of the message she left:

Thanks, guys.  I can see how my OP wording might have been confusing to the student so I went back to my outgoing messages to check the wording I used and discovered I said this:

Lisa has appointments available at either 8:30 am or 9:00 am on Wednesday.  I know this is short notice, but since the semester starts next week (student had only completed her paperwork on Monday) we'd like to schedule an interview.  Please call me at ### to let me know which time is best for you.  If you can't make either time, please let me know if there is a better time to arrange the interview.  My office hours are M-F, 8:00 am-4:30 pm

So in fact, she didn't say, "call me if neither works", she said, "call me to tell me which time you want OR if neither works."

As far as being available 24/7, if we go under the (reasonable) assumption that neither of them expected the other one to answer the phone 24/7, then it makes no sense for the student to show up five minutes after the office opens after leaving an after hours message.

Even if OP had picked up the student's message at 8, it still would be cutting it pretty close to confirm the 8:30 appointment. I do agree that it would have been better for the OP to give a deadline, "call me back by 4 pm today to schedule for tomorrow." But it seems to me that when the student showed up at the office at 8:05 am, she had to know that the OP had, at best, received the 9:30 pm message within the last five minutes.

We understand that OP meant "or" the sentence just added unnecessary ambiguity.  Regardless I think I would have chanced it that Lisa was available if I didn't get OP message till after 4:30.

wolfie

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This is where the student, and many posters, are losing me.  When I am on the phone with a doctor's office, they may say, "I have 8:30 or 12:00 available."  I would then reply, "The 12:00 works best for me."  Usually, the receptionist would reply, "OK, I have you down for 12:00."  When OP said she had 8:30 or 9:00 available, why does that mean the appointment is made?  The OP never said, "We will see you at 8:30 or 9:00", so why would anyone assume the appointment is set?  I have never heard of someone offering two (or more) times meaning the appointment is made in any setting, whether it was a casual get together or a meeting with a teacher.  Where from is this assumption coming?  Genuine question because I truly don't understand why someone would make that assumption.

Because the next sentence is "call me if neither time works for you" which implies that if you can make one of the two times given you don't need to call back. Not knowing how the office works and depending on when the OP called I would assume that the person is there and has two free slots and doesn't expect to fill both of them so showing up to either is fine. I would call back and confirm which slot I wanted, but if I got the message after hours I would leave a message and show up the next morning. I would be polite and understanding if I was told that I didn't have any appointment but I would also consider the message left to be confusing if what the OP really meant was "Call to confirm your appointment - if it isn't confirmed by 4:30 today then call between 8;30 and 4:30 tomorrow to set a new time"

Regarding the bolded, the OP has clarified by posting an exact transcript of the message she left:

Thanks, guys.  I can see how my OP wording might have been confusing to the student so I went back to my outgoing messages to check the wording I used and discovered I said this:

Lisa has appointments available at either 8:30 am or 9:00 am on Wednesday.  I know this is short notice, but since the semester starts next week (student had only completed her paperwork on Monday) we'd like to schedule an interview.  Please call me at ### to let me know which time is best for you.  If you can't make either time, please let me know if there is a better time to arrange the interview.  My office hours are M-F, 8:00 am-4:30 pm

So in fact, she didn't say, "call me if neither works", she said, "call me to tell me which time you want OR if neither works."

As far as being available 24/7, if we go under the (reasonable) assumption that neither of them expected the other one to answer the phone 24/7, then it makes no sense for the student to show up five minutes after the office opens after leaving an after hours message.

Even if OP had picked up the student's message at 8, it still would be cutting it pretty close to confirm the 8:30 appointment. I do agree that it would have been better for the OP to give a deadline, "call me back by 4 pm today to schedule for tomorrow." But it seems to me that when the student showed up at the office at 8:05 am, she had to know that the OP had, at best, received the 9:30 pm message within the last five minutes.

This would be my thought process. I get home and listen to the message at 9:00 and realize that it is after hours. The message would be interested as "Lisa has 2 free slots - 8:30 and 9:00 - let me know which one you want, or let me know if you need a different time". So I call and leave a message to say that 9:00 works for me, but I know they won't get the message until tomorrow morning and someone else might have grabbed that slot already.  And since the office opens so early calling might not be an option cause if I call at 8:00 and it takes me 45 min to get there and I need to be there by 8:30 then it won't work.  But since it is so close to the semester the odds that both slots are gone is pretty low so I better just show up for the earlier meeting to play it safe. The OP's message was not nearly as clear as she thought it was - if it was there wouldn't be so much disagreement in this thread. I found it pretty vague and if I got it I would be really surprised to discover I had none of the appointment times at all - especially since I was just called the day before. If the message was left 5 days ago I would feel she had more of a case.

lowspark

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I'm totally on board (contingent upon the student's reaction upon hearing that Lisa wasn't there) with the idea of the student showing up at 8 am and figuring that there was a good chance she could see Lisa at 830 or 9, based on the OP's message.

I also completely understand Lisa, as of 4:30 the day before, thinking, "Hey, I don't have any appointments tomorrow morning, I'll take the morning off." This is also contingent  on what the dynamic of this office is. Historically, are the last few days before school starts rather quiet and with no appointments, Lisa will have very little to do? Or is it non-stop hectic and Lisa missing a morning is not a reasonable expectation? I have to assume it's the former since she did choose to take off.

So yeah, if the student was indignant upon hearing of Lisa's absence, then I vote rude. If she was understanding and even asking for a favor, "Is there any way she can come in? I'll wait," then I vote not rude, but I see it as her taking a risk.

So if she took the attitude of hoping they would see her on short notice, then OP could have called Lisa and said, "student took a risk coming in and hoped you'd be able to come in and interview her" as opposed to "student showed up expecting you to be here."

Dindrane

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I still think that, regardless of what the original message said, since it didn't give a deadline to make the appointment, the OP needed to call back before she left for the day to essentially rescind the offered interview times. Especially since Lisa wasn't planning on being available, I think the OP/Lisa bear some responsibility for the mix-up by not making it clear that 8:30 or 9:00 were only available if the student called by 4:30 to confirm one of them.

Since they didn't do that, I don't think it was unreasonable on the student's part to assume that one of those times might still be available. Whether or not the student was rude depends upon her attitude, but without knowing that, I can't say her actions were out of line.

I don't think it's unreasonable at all to assume that until the interview time has actually passed, it's still at least possible to confirm it for that time. Not all workplaces work like that (and not all of them can), but I think it's important to clearly communicate when there is a deadline for confirming an appointment. Not everyone would automatically assume that close of business the day the call was placed was the deadline to confirm, even if the interview was potentially taking place the next day.


perpetua

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Tuesday I called a prospective grad student to schedule an interview for her with Lisa, the head of the enrollment committee.  I called the number listed on the student's application and told her Lisa could meet with her at either 8:30 am or 9:00 am Wednesday and if that was not convenient to let me know a better date/time.  I listed my office hours on the message.  I also sent her an email to the address on her application restating the message.

OP, leaving aside all the miscommunication about whether you actually offered her a slot or not: what time on Tuesday did you call her? Because honestly, I don't think you gave her nearly enough notice for either of those timeslots anyway. I'm not sure what else she was supposed to do. Unless she lived right around the corner, she likely had to leave before your office hours started to get to the 8.30 appointment, so didn't have time to call you in the morning to confirm, and she'd only got notice of the appointments the day before.

I think you dropped the ball in a number of different ways here and she did everything she could in order to not miss her possible interview.  I think you should have called her on Monday, if you wanted her to come in on Wednesday. That gives her a clear day to call you to confirm one way or the other, allowing for *her* working hours etc - it's not just yours that come into consideration.

veronaz

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Well stated, Perpetua.  Very good points.
« Last Edit: August 22, 2014, 02:55:43 PM by veronaz »

Mental Magpie

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I'm totally on board (contingent upon the student's reaction upon hearing that Lisa wasn't there) with the idea of the student showing up at 8 am and figuring that there was a good chance she could see Lisa at 830 or 9, based on the OP's message.

I also completely understand Lisa, as of 4:30 the day before, thinking, "Hey, I don't have any appointments tomorrow morning, I'll take the morning off." This is also contingent  on what the dynamic of this office is. Historically, are the last few days before school starts rather quiet and with no appointments, Lisa will have very little to do? Or is it non-stop hectic and Lisa missing a morning is not a reasonable expectation? I have to assume it's the former since she did choose to take off.

So yeah, if the student was indignant upon hearing of Lisa's absence, then I vote rude. If she was understanding and even asking for a favor, "Is there any way she can come in? I'll wait," then I vote not rude, but I see it as her taking a risk.

So if she took the attitude of hoping they would see her on short notice, then OP could have called Lisa and said, "student took a risk coming in and hoped you'd be able to come in and interview her" as opposed to "student showed up expecting you to be here."

I'm with you, there.  If she was apologetic and said something like, "I'm sorry I couldn't call until after you were closed, but just in case the time slot was still open, I came this morning to see if we could make it work," cool.  That's reasonable and something I would probably do.  If she was indignant, on the other hand, too bad.

I still think that, regardless of what the original message said, since it didn't give a deadline to make the appointment, the OP needed to call back before she left for the day to essentially rescind the offered interview times. Especially since Lisa wasn't planning on being available, I think the OP/Lisa bear some responsibility for the mix-up by not making it clear that 8:30 or 9:00 were only available if the student called by 4:30 to confirm one of them.

Since they didn't do that, I don't think it was unreasonable on the student's part to assume that one of those times might still be available. Whether or not the student was rude depends upon her attitude, but without knowing that, I can't say her actions were out of line.

I don't think it's unreasonable at all to assume that until the interview time has actually passed, it's still at least possible to confirm it for that time. Not all workplaces work like that (and not all of them can), but I think it's important to clearly communicate when there is a deadline for confirming an appointment. Not everyone would automatically assume that close of business the day the call was placed was the deadline to confirm, even if the interview was potentially taking place the next day.

Who would be there after the close of business to receive the message?  How is that not the deadline?  I just don't understand that.  I get that other posters see it that way, but I can't understand how or why.  Close of business day means that's the end of business until they open the next morning.  You can't go to a store after it's closed to buy something.  You go the next morning when they're open and see if you can get it then (which I'm OK with the student doing as long as she wasn't rude in her attitude.)
The problem with choosing the lesser of two evils is that you're still choosing evil.

wolfie

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Who would be there after the close of business to receive the message?  How is that not the deadline?  I just don't understand that.  I get that other posters see it that way, but I can't understand how or why.  Close of business day means that's the end of business until they open the next morning.  You can't go to a store after it's closed to buy something.  You go the next morning when they're open and see if you can get it then (which I'm OK with the student doing as long as she wasn't rude in her attitude.)

because close of business isn't always the deadline. The deadline could be until the appointment slot is over. The student had no way of knowing that the deadline was 4:30 pm Tuesday vs 8:30 am Wed. She was just told to inform them which slot she would like - she wasn't told by when to call.

Yvaine

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Who would be there after the close of business to receive the message?  How is that not the deadline?  I just don't understand that.  I get that other posters see it that way, but I can't understand how or why.  Close of business day means that's the end of business until they open the next morning.  You can't go to a store after it's closed to buy something.  You go the next morning when they're open and see if you can get it then (which I'm OK with the student doing as long as she wasn't rude in her attitude.)

What we're saying is that it's not really reasonable or prudent for Lisa to try and call to set up appointments when there's only one business day for the student to call her back. We can't assume that everybody can access their phone at all hours of the day. Let's say the student has class or work during the hours the office is open, and can't check her cell. When you don't know what people's work/class hours are, you're just setting them up to fail if you only give them the same business day to call you back. If OP or Lisa had called on Monday, the student could have received the message Monday night and called back, Lisa could have gotten the message Tuesday morning and known to come into work Wednesday, and there'd be no issue at all.