Author Topic: If You Call After Business Hours - You Do Not Have a Scheduled Appointment  (Read 9383 times)

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rashea

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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.

I didn't disagree with that nor misunderstand that.  I don't understand how people don't see a deadline.  Close of business is the deadline; who would be there after the close of business to take the call?

I don't understand this point. She was clearly calling to leave a message for the OP to pick up when she got into the office the following morning, prior to the first appointment, to let her know she would be coming. And the reason she had to do so was because she likely didn't get enough notice of the appt in the first place. If the OP called her during *her* business hours on Tuesday, and the student didn't get off school/work until after the OP had left work for the day, what else was she supposed to do to inform her that she'd be attending the interview? OP only seems concerned with her working hours and didn't seem to take into account those of the student.

I'm with you on that.  Really, I don't think the student, barring rude behavior when she was there, did anything wrong.  She did most of what I probably would have done.

However, previous posters have stated that there was no clear deadline.  All I'm asking is for someone to explain that mindset to me.  It's pretty clear to me the deadline was the close of business that day.  I would have also called first thing in the morning while heading there, depending on my commute, since I hadn't called during business hours the night before.

I guess because I would have assumed that if I called the morning of the appointment I might still have been able to get one of them, I wouldn't see close of business as the deadline.

I actually don't think anyone is wrong here, I think people made the best of an awkward situation and it didn't work out quite right. Personally, I think it's a bit odd that Lisa wasn't there, because the days before school opened were always packed when I did that sort of work with people needing last minute things.

Also, OP, I think you should be more clear on your voicemail too. You really aren't available first thing in the morning (me too, we meet first thing in the morning, so I'm clear about that on my outgoing message).
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Lynn2000

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Re: the deadline, one way to look at it is, voicemail is there to receive the call. And a person could potentially check their voicemail from home at any time. So the student might leave a voicemail at 9:30pm, the OP might have listened to it from home at 10pm or 7am the next morning, and then the OP might have called Lisa and said, "Hey, looks like the student is able to come in this morning anyway. Will you be here, or should I contact them to cancel?"

I mean, that's kind of the point of voicemail, in a way, isn't it? So people can leave you messages outside of business hours, when there's no one at the office to answer the phone. If you're only going to check the messages during business hours, you might as well not have voicemail. If the student wasn't able to respond (by leaving a voicemail message) to the OP at all, I wonder how this would have affected things--personally I think I would have shown up anyway, maybe tried calling starting at 8am when business hours begin (as I was on my way there, if necessary). So nothing much might have changed, except I wouldn't walk in going, "You should have known I would be here." (Which could be important, if she had had a bad attitude.)

Note I'm not saying the OP should have checked her voicemail outside business hours, different places have different policies about that. I'm just saying that if you have the option of leaving a voicemail, IMO it's reasonable to assume someone will listen to it, outside of business hours.
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wolfie

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Re: the deadline, one way to look at it is, voicemail is there to receive the call. And a person could potentially check their voicemail from home at any time. So the student might leave a voicemail at 9:30pm, the OP might have listened to it from home at 10pm or 7am the next morning, and then the OP might have called Lisa and said, "Hey, looks like the student is able to come in this morning anyway. Will you be here, or should I contact them to cancel?"

I mean, that's kind of the point of voicemail, in a way, isn't it? So people can leave you messages outside of business hours, when there's no one at the office to answer the phone. If you're only going to check the messages during business hours, you might as well not have voicemail. If the student wasn't able to respond (by leaving a voicemail message) to the OP at all, I wonder how this would have affected things--personally I think I would have shown up anyway, maybe tried calling starting at 8am when business hours begin (as I was on my way there, if necessary). So nothing much might have changed, except I wouldn't walk in going, "You should have known I would be here." (Which could be important, if she had had a bad attitude.)

Note I'm not saying the OP should have checked her voicemail outside business hours, different places have different policies about that. I'm just saying that if you have the option of leaving a voicemail, IMO it's reasonable to assume someone will listen to it, outside of business hours.

I don't think that is a reasonable assumption. I don't listen to my voicemail outside of business hours. I have it because sometimes I am not at my desk when people call so therefore they can leave a message that I will get when I get back. Or so people keep different hours and they leave me a message and then i can take care of it when I get in in the morning. There is no expectation that just because they leave me a message at 9:00 that I will listen and take care of it at 10:00. Just that it was convenient for them to call at that time, and I will take care of it when I return to work.

Eeep!

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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.

I didn't disagree with that nor misunderstand that.  I don't understand how people don't see a deadline.  Close of business is the deadline; who would be there after the close of business to take the call?

Well I don't read a deadline in OP's message. In fact, she said her office hours are 8:00 - 4:30.  Which might make me think "Oh good! She will get in before the 8:30 slot so if I leave a message she will have it before then."   Because why leave the time she starts if it is irrelevant? Now, I get that in most instance, with a longer turn around, it would likely be helpful information and the OP probably just says that out of habit. But I can totally see myself as thinking the opening time is relevant.

But I agree with the posters who say that her attitude is what would be most important to me.  From the OP's comment, it sounds like she was rather self-effacing to start off with - calling herself the "annoying lady" so it seems like she recognized that her situation was already less than ideal.
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Lynn2000

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Well I don't read a deadline in OP's message. In fact, she said her office hours are 8:00 - 4:30.  Which might make me think "Oh good! She will get in before the 8:30 slot so if I leave a message she will have it before then."   Because why leave the time she starts if it is irrelevant? Now, I get that in most instance, with a longer turn around, it would likely be helpful information and the OP probably just says that out of habit. But I can totally see myself as thinking the opening time is relevant.

But I agree with the posters who say that her attitude is what would be most important to me.  From the OP's comment, it sounds like she was rather self-effacing to start off with - calling herself the "annoying lady" so it seems like she recognized that her situation was already less than ideal.

POD, the bolded was also what I was trying to get at. Just in a general situation, for an 8:30am appointment, with business hours starting at 8am, and voicemail available after hours, I think it's a reasonable assumption that someone would have gotten the message by the time the student showed up that morning. Obviously in this case that didn't hold true, but I don't see that as the result of rudeness or thoughtlessness by anyone. Just stuff that happens in life sometimes. And also POD to the attitude part, I think that's actually more important than all the details about the time and the message.
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QueenfaninCA

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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.

POD. In particular the sentence that I bolded.

Mental Magpie

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OK, that all makes more sense.  I do agree that if the appointment time was later in the day, I wouldn't necessarily see the deadline as close of business the day before.  In my mind, there is a buffer of a few hours before the appointment, and because opening hours only leaves 30 minutes, I see the deadline as the close of business the day before.  I didn't realize that I viewed it that way until I tried to put it into words after reading the above replies.
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veronaz

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As I understand it, the main purpose of this department/office is supposed to be to provide services to students.  But staff seems to feel their (staff) schedules and preferences take priority.

I'm not implying anyone be available 24/7 or even before or after business hours, but staff jobs exist because of the students.
« Last Edit: August 22, 2014, 06:50:17 PM by veronaz »

Dindrane

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So here's what I don't connect with on the bolded above.
There are two appointment times available as of the time the OP calls the student. Now, in the meantime, anything can happen, including one or both of those appointment times no longer being available due to being booked by someone else. Or is it the understanding that once those two times are offered to someone via voice mail, they must remain open indefinitely till that person calls in or shows up for one of them or the hour passes with Lisa not seeing anyone?

If another student were to need an appointment, is the OP now obligated to say that 8:30 to 9:30 are not available because they have been offered to another student who may or may not use them, and they must remain open until that student responds or until that time passes, unused?

Or is the implication that OP must subsequently call the student back if/when either or both of the appointments get booked by other people? Potentially three calls: 1) offer the two times 2) sorry one of them has been reserved 3) sorry the other one's been reserved. 

That just doesn't ring right with me. It's unfortunate that the student wasn't able to confirm the appointment by closing time regardless of the reason. But until the student confirms her intent to take one of those times and the OP confirms that the time the student wants is still available, I'd say that the appointment is not set in stone.

(I'm not quoting myself just to preserve space)

If the times are offered, I think it is reasonable to assume that the interviewer is indeed holding those times. If they aren't, they shouldn't offer the specific times. It's very easy to just say "we have time slots available Wednesday morning, so call to schedule one of them." That is a much more specific (and therefore more clear) message. Even better is "We have time slots available Wednesday morning, so please call by 4:30 p.m. today to schedule one of them." That communicates both that there is availability, what the general timeframe is, and what the deadline for scheduling is.

Scheduling interviews is a large portion of what I do at work all day, and I will say that if I'm trying to juggle candidates or other schedules or whatever, I don't commit to any time, with anyone, until I'm sure it will work. I call the person we want to interview and ask them when they are available, and I don't give them a time slot until I'm ready to give it to them firmly. I contact the people who will be conducting the interview to find out their availability, and if it's limited or time is short, I also ask them to hold it open for me. It is only at that point that I even identify specific times that can work for interviews, and I don't leave time slots in a voicemail message unless I'm at that point, know I have space available, and am pretty sure it's going to work.

Using the method where I basically don't tell anyone anything until I've got a full schedule put together allows me to schedule interviews with very little notice successfully, but it does take more effort and time on my part to do it that way. That is the tradeoff with scheduling in general, and scheduling interviews in particular: you can either have it be easy, or you can have it happen quickly. You can rarely have both.

So if you're going to offer specific times, then yes, you do have to hold them for at least a reasonable length of time to give the person a chance to either confirm one of them or decline both. "Reasonable length of time" varies depending upon the situation, but I don't think it can ever be less than 24 hours. Even the most interested, engaged, and capable candidates have other things going on in their lives that sometimes prevent them from checking email or answering the phone. And if the person scheduling interviews is not able, for whatever reason, to listen to voicemail or check email (or make calls) outside of the 8-5 business day, you have to expect it's going to take longer. A lot of people simply are not available between 8 and 5. The earlier in a person's career you are, the more likely that is to be true (since entry level jobs tend to be the most restrictive about taking time away from your desk and/or engaging in personal business while at your desk).


Coruscation

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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.

I didn't disagree with that nor misunderstand that.  I don't understand how people don't see a deadline.  Close of business is the deadline; who would be there after the close of business to take the call?

I don't understand this point. She was clearly calling to leave a message for the OP to pick up when she got into the office the following morning, prior to the first appointment, to let her know she would be coming. And the reason she had to do so was because she likely didn't get enough notice of the appt in the first place. If the OP called her during *her* business hours on Tuesday, and the student didn't get off school/work until after the OP had left work for the day, what else was she supposed to do to inform her that she'd be attending the interview? OP only seems concerned with her working hours and didn't seem to take into account those of the student.

I'm with you on that.  Really, I don't think the student, barring rude behavior when she was there, did anything wrong.  She did most of what I probably would have done.

However, previous posters have stated that there was no clear deadline.  All I'm asking is for someone to explain that mindset to me.  It's pretty clear to me the deadline was the close of business that day.  I would have also called first thing in the morning while heading there, depending on my commute, since I hadn't called during business hours the night before.

If the appointment is available at 4:30pm and the office does not accept after hours voicemails, then who is taking the appointment before 8am the next day?

Raintree

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I assume an appointment is not confirmed until both parties have confirmed.

So if I were the student calling after hours, I'd want to check at the start of the next business day to see if it's still OK to take that appointment or is it too late?

And if I were Lisa, not having heard from the student by the close of the previous business day, I'd absolutely not have thought the appointment was on. In fact, I might have given that slot to someone else.

If I'm offered a choice of times, I assume I have to call back to state which one of those times works for me, and then I'd also need someone to say to me, "OK, you're confirmed for that time; see you then."


Mental Magpie

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I assume an appointment is not confirmed until both parties have confirmed.

So if I were the student calling after hours, I'd want to check at the start of the next business day to see if it's still OK to take that appointment or is it too late?

And if I were Lisa, not having heard from the student by the close of the previous business day, I'd absolutely not have thought the appointment was on. In fact, I might have given that slot to someone else.

If I'm offered a choice of times, I assume I have to call back to state which one of those times works for me, and then I'd also need someone to say to me, "OK, you're confirmed for that time; see you then."

This is also how I think and what I would do.

Coruscation, no one, because the office is closed.
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Raintree

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If this had been me in college, I wouldn't have gotten your message until 10 or 11 pm. I went to school full time and worked several hours a night after that. I wasn't allowed to even have my cell phone on me during work, much less check my messages. If a full day had passed, and she had not called back until 9:30pm the next day, then I think it's fair to say she was at fault. But since you made the appointment and expected a response that very same day, I'm not sure what else you expected her to do. Students have to go to class, study, and work. They keep weird hours by necessity.

If Lisa had been in the office on time that morning, and the student hadn't shown up, would you be complaining about how inconsiderate she was then?

In that case, the student should have called and said, "I am sorry but I didn't get your message until late. I would like the 8:30 slot if that's still available, but if not, I'm available at the following times (list availablity). Please call me in the morning and let me know if I can still come for 8:30." Then if I didn't hear back I would phone after 8 AM.

At our office (not student related) we come and go based on appointment times that have been set in stone, so if we heard nothing back and you showed up anyway (or if you called in the night and left a message after everyone had left) you are likely to find nobody there.

Lynn2000

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I also schedule interviews with undergrad students to work in our university office, and it can be hard to find logistical solutions that are fair and respectful to all parties.

When the schedule is still wide open and there's more time for communication (like the interviews aren't happening until next week), I usually start by saying, "We have openings Mon, Wed, and Fri afternoons next week. What would work best for you?" Then the student and I can go back and forth to set the interview time. Usually people don't respond with one time, but give me a range, like, "I'm free 3pm-5pm Mon and Wed, or 1pm-3pm Fri." Even if I'm in contact with multiple people it's fairly easy to give everyone a spot that works for them, because there's lots of open slots and also time for multiple emails.

As the time grows shorter--say, it's now interview week, on Tuesday--I tell the students who are just now being offered interviews (because they applied later) something like, "The only slots we have left are 2pm on Wed (tomorrow) or 3pm on Fri. Please get back to me ASAP to secure a time." With two slots left, I send the same email to two students (I don't overbook), and I feel like the wording gives them fair warning that it's first contact, first reserve on the spot. So if Bob gets back to me and wants 2pm on Wed, and then later Carl replies and also wants 2pm on Wed, I tell Carl, "Sorry, that spot has already been taken. Does 3pm on Fri work for you?" If it doesn't, then my boss has to decide if we want to make a special time to interview Carl, or just tell him we won't be able to work him in this round (meaning there's no chance he gets the job). Which stinks if you're Carl, because very likely the fact that he's unavailable during our remaining interview spot isn't his fault--he may have class or another job. But that's life, it doesn't always work out the way we wanted.
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Surianne

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If this had been me in college, I wouldn't have gotten your message until 10 or 11 pm. I went to school full time and worked several hours a night after that. I wasn't allowed to even have my cell phone on me during work, much less check my messages. If a full day had passed, and she had not called back until 9:30pm the next day, then I think it's fair to say she was at fault. But since you made the appointment and expected a response that very same day, I'm not sure what else you expected her to do. Students have to go to class, study, and work. They keep weird hours by necessity.

If Lisa had been in the office on time that morning, and the student hadn't shown up, would you be complaining about how inconsiderate she was then?

In that case, the student should have called and said, "I am sorry but I didn't get your message until late. I would like the 8:30 slot if that's still available, but if not, I'm available at the following times (list availablity). Please call me in the morning and let me know if I can still come for 8:30." Then if I didn't hear back I would phone after 8 AM.

At our office (not student related) we come and go based on appointment times that have been set in stone, so if we heard nothing back and you showed up anyway (or if you called in the night and left a message after everyone had left) you are likely to find nobody there.

The student likely isn't psychic, so I'm not sure how she could have known the exact, perfect thing to say.  I don't see how she did a single thing rudely in this situation.  Many of us have said the OP's message was unclear -- if it confuses multiple people, of course it would confuse the student, too.  She probably really wanted the interview and did the best she could.