A staff member has an infuriating ring tone. Help!

Dear Aunty B,

A senior member of our staff has the WORST ring tones of all time.

First he had the theme song from an American sitcom in the late 70s, Diff’rent Strokes. After a few staff complained, he changed it to the theme song from Kingswood Country which is, if anything, worse!

What do I do now? We work in an open plan office and his phone rings often.

I have come to the conclusion he has unfortunate shocking taste in music and that his next choice of ring tone could well be worse.

It seems a bit over the top to have a ring tone policy… is it? I, myself, have a straightforward telephone ring which is perfectly adequate.

Christine D,



Dear Christine,

Sometimes my job is so unpleasant. To make an impartial and informed decision I listened to said ring tones and yes, they are truly appalling (particularly Kingswood Country.) Imagine having to listen to several bars of that every day. A few rousing bars is enough to make quitters take up smoking or communism again.


It is obviously having an impact on productivity – you for example have interrupted your busy day in the middle of a downturn when you should be urgently considering your future strategy to seek advice.

A ring tone policy is over the top – and who has the time!

You could take several approaches; send around an email asking that all phones be kept on silent/vibrate while in the office. You could try “ring tone intervention” – every time the phone rings, you all hurl curses at him. You could also invest in some technology so when the mobile rings in the office, it is switched through to the office phone.

Or you could simply ask him to change it again and give him a list of acceptable rings from which to choose.

A warning though. He could well dig in his heels, as people take their choice of ring tone very personally and see it as a reflection of their personality.

In which case I recommend a passive/aggressive approach by all in the office. Learn the words and every time his phone rings, join in. It will drive him nuts.


Good luck,

Your Aunty B.



Staff got bad ring tones? What’s the worst? What did you do about it? Send in your feedback to [email protected]

Peter Berner writes: Awwwww c’mon. Get a life…………. I’ve got an LG with just plain old cruddy “modern” (music?) or a couple of pretty ordinary ring tones. Good on him. Just wish I knew enough to put the Kingswood tune on my phone. Don’t be such a sook. Get on with YOUR job (sounds like you’re real important), and let him do his.

Campbell Fuller writes: My rule in the office is that if an unattended mobile rings, no matter the ring tone, I reserve the right to turn the phone off. If I hate the ring tone I might turn it off by dunking it in coffee until it stops bleeping. Seriously though, mobile etiquette for the office is ever-changing. Employers and team leaders should set their expectations for all staff. Ring tones (unless they are offensive or include the dulcet tones of Celine Dion) should be a low priority. On a personal note, I set my ring tone according to my mood. Dazed and Confused (Led Zeppelin) seems to be on high rotation. As does the West Wing theme.


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