I'm sure you've heard that old saying, "Better late than never." Today I found an example of the opposite, "Better never than late."
On April 18 I submitted an online request for a quote on meeting space to 12 hotels in Los Angeles and Orange County. The requests went to two hotel chains, referred to here as Hotel A and B because this is an active sales process. Both chains claimed a 1 business day response time on their websites.
Today, 6 business days later, I received a voice mail from someone at one of Hotel A's locations. The salesperson left a brief message where she essentially told me to expect a call tomorrow from someone else. Tomorrow I will be visiting some of her competitors who have already sent me proposals so her phone call was too little, too late.
In this case, it would have been better to never call at all. Blame it on technology, say your dog ate the lead, or perhaps corporate commandos from another company broke into your office in the middle of the night and stole your computer. Come up with something. Anything. Except, of course, "We just got around to calling you today." Now, you won't get the business AND you'll look worse than if you hadn't bothered to call at all.