Annoying: People That Don’t Get Back to Us

by Jonathan Longnecker

Hello and welcome to a new segment on the 47m blog! Annoying: a place where we get to vent about things that really tick us off. I think it will be very therapeutic for everyone!

Today’s topic is “people that don’t get back to us.” We get quite a few job requests that come through our site and I’d say about 30% of them never respond back to us. I don’t understand why. I mean they contacted us first! We’ve just shot them an email back to setup a time to talk. What’s the deal? Is it that hard to hit the reply button? At least tell me if you’re not interested anymore so I can take you off my list of people to keep responding to. All the checking and rechecking is quite a time waster.

Shouldn’t we be more respectful of other people’s time? Where’s the decency? Is humanity going to implode on itself because of the lack of common courtesy? I don’t know; I just ask the questions. It’s up to you to provide the answers. I know I feel better already. Feel free to vent below!

February 05, 2009

Business, Personal


  1. I couldn’t agree more.

  2. THANK GOD someone else goes through this and it’s not just me smile I mean, it sucks you go through it, but its nice to know I’m not alone smile It’s very annoying.

    I have a “POSSIBLE” label in gmail and also a “FUTURE CONTACTS” list and it does get tedious to reply once every week or so to everyone on the list.

  3. Yep, very annoying ... I’ll maybe follow up with a few calls and an email. I tend to think the type of person to not respond to you would probably be a bad client anyway.

  4. Yeah we’re debating requiring a phone number or something. It’s so easy to ignore emails!

  5. Yeap, this part of client communication is very strange if we think from business/communication ethics point of view. I’ve asked myself several times “why they just can’t answer?”.

    But I think that most of these people are just quote collectors, so you should forget about them and move forward with others smile

  6. Holy moly - you pretty much described exactly how I feel. What’s worse is when they DO include their phone number (which is still optional on our contact form), we call and STILL don’t get a response. Because of that I limit followups to 2-3.

  7. @ Angie, dang that’s definitely no good! You’re not giving me hope for that phone number idea smile

  8. grin  For what it’s worth, it doesn’t happen often. We had the phone number required for a real short while early last year and found that some folks would use a fake number. Granted, those were tire kickers.

    But, I find that the folks that do have a legitimate interest in talking with us tend to not even use our contact form and instead go straight for the email link. Not really sure why though. smile

  9. I just googled this topic and got this space. I am certainly annoyed when my friends and family do not return e-mails or give me answers to questions I have asked.
    I invite friends and family to breakfast, lunch and no answer. Then when I call them about it I 1. feel like an idiot, 2. wonder.. don’t they want to go with me? 3. have they really forgotten? 4. is it really worth it to try to build relationships? 5. can I continue receiving this “abuse”? 6. are people really that selfish out there and don’t give a darn about others feelings?.... I am always quick to respond even when I feel like I should do to them what they do to me. It’s just not in me to do that…....
    I feel better getting this out. Bonnie

  10. We’re getting pretty tired of this, too. I mean, what, are these prospective clients just using the shotgun approach to hit as many web designers as possible?

    What’s even better is the occasional email we get from a business owner needing a website who we could swear is actually a 6 year old. They write like one, anyway. You’d think the desire to present yourself as professional in a faceless medium like email would cause a person to write in complete thoughts and sentences. Apparently it does not.

    Love your work, 47m, and I’m a frequent reader of your blog. I even saw in the comments on Newism’s Building Campaign Monitor Series that they’ve enjoyed your work as well. Glad to see such highly regarded design work coming out of my hometown!

  11. Hey Kev,

    I know what you mean, man. Thankfully most of our potential clients are pretty cool…except the ones that don’t email us back smile

    Thanks for the kind words, sir! Good to know there’s other Knoxvillians saving the web one kick-awesome site at a time.

  12. Hey Jonathan!  I totally understand your frustration!

    I’ve been using the internet for many years now, and most people view web forms as very impersonal and somewhat anonymous.&nnbsp; Most have spam emails, and cell phone numbers they’ve become accustomed to using for online transactions.  The sad irony is most have become jaded because of the same frustrations you’re sharing.  They don’t expect you to get back to them, and so they don’t put a lot of significance on the communication medium either.

    I know this was somewhat in jest,  but we really do have to meet people where they’re at, and offer them a lot of grace.

  13. @Drew, yeah good points. I myself do a lot of that, but only if it’s for personal stuff. If I’m trying to do business with someone I’ll definitely use my business email and contact info. Maybe I’m just weird though wink Oh well; just had to get it out of my system!

  14. You have to consider that people such as small business owners don’t usually sit by their computers 24/7 and don’t hit the button “check mail” every 5 minutes. They have other things to run (marketing, networking etc). So be patient if someone did not respond right away.

    I’ve had clients responding after 3 weeks. I consider it norm.

  15. @Alexandra: Obviously most people don’t sit by their computers 24/7 and don’t check their mail every 5 minutes - even as a web developer I don’t do that. I have other things to do too. The point is, there are people who don’t even respond after several followups. Obviously I can only speak for myself here but when I hear from someone inquiring about a project and I don’t hear back right away, I follow up 2-3 times over a period of a few weeks. I’d say that’s patient, wouldn’t you?!? If they don’t respond then, should I continue wasting my time on someone who obviously doesn’t have the time to even *discuss* their project, let alone hire someone to help them? Moreover, Jonathan’s point is that as business people, we all need to be more respectful of others’ time, even if it’s just to say, sorry, I’m too busy to deal with this right now.

  16. Well I was going to reply but I see Angie’s beat me to the punch! Yeah I’m not expecting someone to get back to me in 5 minutes. I’m talking about the people who just never respond back, even though they contacted us to do something for them. A quick “I’m not interested” from them would save us all a lot of time and show a little respect.

    But also, if a business owner can’t respond to email in a timely fashion (a couple of days) I’d say there’s some issues there anyway. This is 2009.

  17. I have another vantage point as I have solicited help from designers/design firms via their “Contact Me” page. I usually don’t get back to people if they take too long to return my email. What’s too long…6 business days. Although I believe most emails of this type SHOULD be returned in 24hrs. I give 6 business days. Not contact…not contract from us.

  18. Solomon - you’re generous! 6 business days feels like an eternity. When we get inquiries I try to respond same day but since that’s not always possible, I go for 24 hours. Point being that you’re perspective is on the money. smile

  19. what I hate is when you are the potential customer asking an inquiry or existing customer wanting information you should have provided in the first place (shipping notification,tracking #,etc)

    Not only do I have to ask questions because of your lack of detailed descriptions, lousy after sale service,etc.. NOW I have to wait for you to respond. Sometimes for days or not at all.

    This guarantees you will lose almost every customer as if you don;t answer their ?‘s than they will ocntact someone else who sells at roughly the same price and will. It is bad image all around to leave your customers wanting and waiting. If mcdonalds said sorry new policy of 30 minutes per order- you can bet your @ss burger king would smack you out of business.

    I thought businesses were in the practice of selling things and you won’t sell to much if you never check your emails.

    On second thought what I really hate is niche businesses who do those terrible things because those products are usually ONLY there leaving you no options but

    -Wait for jerks
    -Forget about item you want so bad until someone with a can do approach to business shows up and carries said item

  20. I moved to a town where you can trust no one. I have acquired enough reasons for that statement in the time I have lived here thats for sure. Some other members of my family write to me via email asking me for my opinion about stuff or just saying hello. I write back; they dont write. I guess I expect too much loyalty, or reliability, or whatever. I dont see a means to the end. I get so sick of it I could just block their email adresses from my account but I heard they can tell if you do that. Anyone have any suggestions??? Sure wish I was back in the town where I knew my friends were true but that at this point it is not possible.

  21. Does anyone know if there is such a thing as “email auto-resend” for your messages that don’t get a reply? I would love to activate that feature for certain emails and have it just resend every 24 hours until the inconsiderate (or just pathetic) person replies.

  22. In my opinion, it all relates to the attitude of people seeing or reading your messages(s). When they don’t respond, you should not think that there is something wrong with you. In fact most of the people are self-centered and inward looking. So they want others to listen and read what they have to say rather than what others are saying. Hence don’t be dejected once someone does not respond to you and more importantly, you should not think that they are not responding because there is something wrong or missing in your messages. By the way, you are not the only one who has this complaint…..

  23. I"m late to the game here by the dates, but let me tell you what it’s like as a consumer: I called 6 architects before someone actually got back to me. SIX! Three designers I called and emailed before someone would respond to my emails. Two plumbing showrooms where I spent 3 hours each picking out fixtures never emailed me the quotes they were supposed to. 4 contractors took between one and two months to give me an estimate.  And guess what. This is for a six-figure renovation. So I agree. People should consider others’ time. But it works both ways, and my experience is a common one among people I know.

    See, if someone doesn’t care to get back to me as a potential customer for six weeks (or even ONE) for a quote/estimate, I say “well if they are this slow/unresponsive BEFORE we have a business relationship, once we DO, they’ll be impossible to reach.” Not to mention that it is frustrating that people seem not to care about potential business. I would say that maybe they think my job is too small, but if they don’t get back to me, how would they know what size job it is?

  24. @Rick Joel Haha yes sir, a little late to the game, but that’s ok smile

    It certainly works both ways, I was just writing from the perspective of the service provider who is contacted to do work and then can’t get that person to ever respond to me over a period of 3-6 months.

    I totally get the frustration of trying to find a good designer or web person - unfortunately if they’re any good they’re probably booked or just really busy doing the work. I know I’m a one man shop and balancing leads with billable work is hard. It could definitely take a week for me to get back to you in a meaningful way (other than a quick followup).

    Anyway, thanks for speaking up! Always good to hear the other side of the story - and sorry you’ve had so much trouble finding good people for your architecture project.



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