Ask Amy: Do misdialed numbers require return calls?

November 22, 2013 

Dear Amy: Recently, I misdialed my phone while attempting to call my husband.

As soon as I heard the voicemail message, I realized my mistake and hung up. Several hours later, the person I accidentally called me and said someone from this number had called him.

I told the caller that I had called his number by accident and that's why I didn't leave a message.

I have noticed friends and family doing this all the time; they will see that they missed calls on their phones and then call that number back, not even knowing who the caller is.

This seems odd to me. I don't understand why you would return a "missed call" from someone you do not know and who did not leave you a message.

What is the appropriate response to a missed call with no message left on your voicemail? Is it appropriate to call them back?

Conversely, should I have left a voicemail message to the misdialed number, saying that I called the wrong number and apologize? This has happened to me a couple of times, and I would like to know the polite way to handle it.

— Miss Dialer in Saratoga

Dear Miss Dialer: I am aware of, and also confused by, this phenomenon. The only explanation I have for the tendency to return a misdialed call (even many hours later) is sheer unadulterated curiosity. What if opportunity is not knocking but … calling?

Other (younger) members of my household report that (in their world) it is now considered obnoxious to leave a message! They say when they receive a "missed call," they consider it like a tap on the shoulder, and they always respond, even if they don't recognize the number. They return the call, and say, "Hi, I'm returning a call placed from this number."

I'll happily let readers weigh in on the reasons behind missedcallitis.

Dear Amy: I was interested in the question from "Dad," who was excessively worried about his daughter's choice to travel to Europe and stay for a week with a guy she had met on a cruise the year before.

Among Dad's worries was that his daughter (in her late 20s) was "unladylike."

I assume, therefore, that if the daughter was a son who had the exact same plans, the father would have no objection.

— Steamed

Dear Steamed: I share your assumption.

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