Wednesday, December 06, 2006

"No-Reply" Emails are Unacceptable

 Yesterday I wrote about an email I received from my fax-to-email provider about a price increase. I didn't mention that I replied to the email to let them know why I was unhappy with their steep price hike. That got this response:

We're sorry, but you've reached an automated message.

The e-mail address is used solely for the sending of price-change notifications to ____ subscribers. Any replies sent to trigger this automated reply and are NOT READ by our Customer Service team.

We would still like to hear from you.

No you wouldn't.

I know that this is a common practice: companies large and small send email to customers from addresses that do not accept replies all the time.

It's a horrible practice, and I consider it completely unacceptable.

The email above told me that I could click a link, log in, and navigate through a bunch of screens on their web site to talk to them. Well, I'm sorry, but it's not my job to jump through that many hoops to let them know why they are losing a customer.

Email is a two-way medium. When you use it this way, you're showing incredible disrespect for your customer. It's like calling them, telling them something, and then hanging up before they have a chance to respond.

I understand the reason for it; if you accept replies, you have to look at them and perhaps act on them, and if you're sending 500,000 messages, that's a lot of potential replies.

But that a lousy excuse. It's not that hard to get software that will sort through the replies to identify those that contain actual messages (instead of just bounces and the like) and report back on them.

And when a company is telling me that they're going to charge me 30% more for a commodity service, but can't be bothered to read an email from me, my decision to end the relationship becomes that much easier.

1 comment:

Cahill said...

Wow - is that the truth.

My rule is that someone human's got to get the reply email or I don't hit the send button. If you're not willing to see the bounces, hear the complaints, then you have no business okaying a campaign.

I had to send a major announcement for the Global CEO of a large corporation the other day. I know for a fact he doesn't read email, so we used his address as the from, and a more generic info@ as the reply address, so we could check. All pertinent replies were forwarded to his AA for action. And the unsubs, bounces, etc. were properly processed.