Thursday, May 14, 2015


I don’t know if this will help the situation but it is getting pretty chronic.  If you can help with this, it would be greatly appreciated.  It may sound somewhat light, but souls might be at stake.
So I am sitting at breakfast this past week and one priest told the story about a phone message he had received.  Someone identifying herself as a parishioner and crying profusely asked that he call her back to help her in her distress.  Unfortunately, through her sobs, he could not make out the name.  Worse yet, her phone number was garbled enough that he could not make out what it was despite listening to it three times and calling staff members in to see if they could make it out.


The secretaries were instructed that, if she should call back, apologize profusely and do not let her through to voicemail until a paper copy was made.  He is left wondering if she is now angry at him and/or the Church thinking that her call is being ignored.
This happens more often than is acceptable.  It happens sometimes too that a person will leave an incredibly long message and then at the end say, “Aaaaaand youuuuuuu can reaaaaaaaach meeeee at, uhm, let’s seeeeeeeee, 5htu8u8eh.  Thank you goodbye.”
Sometimes I wonder if they really want called back.
To better guarantee that your message will get through, I would like to suggest the following:  When leaving the message leave your name and number first.  Speak SLOWLY and DISTINCTLY and REPEAT.
“Hello, this is Father Valencheck from St. Sebastian.  My number is 3-3-0---2-2-2----2-2-2-2.  Let me repeat that . . . I’m calling today concerning . . .”  Then for good measure repeat it again at the end.  “Again, this is Father Valencheck 330-222 . . . “
Cell phones do not always give the clearest transmissions.  Answering machines sometimes cut off long messages.  The speaker on the office phone may not be state of the art.  Play it safe.  If you don’t hear back in a day or two, call back.


Anonymous said...

Hi Fr. V -

Thank you for the public service announcement! I have been a secretary for 36 years. I have to check messages on two separate voicemails every day. Without fail, at least one or two a day are lost due to the speech being garbled, a bad connection, or the caller using a cell phone while driving (which also records traffic noise). Sometimes, even those whose calls I answer before they go to voicemail are very difficult to understand.

I would add to your good advice the following.

If you are making an urgent personal call or a business call, please turn down the TV and radio. The person you are calling is surely more important.

If you have a child who is cranky, please calm him or her first.

As charming as it is, please do not let your preschooler answer the phone until he or she is old enough to speak clearly and take a message.

And please, please, make an effort to speak clearly! You don't need to shout (please don't!), but please don't mumble!

Ok, that's enough for today! God bless everyone!


Anonymous said...

Your advice is well-taken. I have a suggestion that could also help. Every parish phone should have Caller ID. It would help alleviate problems like you describe. With Caller ID, the caller's phone number is displayed during the call and kept in memory afterward. It may be an added charge on the phone bill, but I think it's money well spent for a parish.

Russ said...

Father - we are a small telephone system vendor in Wadsworth (and have a good number of Catholic schools and churches as clients). Caller ID will save a lot a grief. We'd be happy to see if we can help if you'd like. 330-485-6888