Finding someone else’s discomfort funny is an automatic response in most people, so not only do we find it funny, but there is the added benefit of not having to feel guilty. After all it was an automatic response, similar to a reflex. When it happens in one’s own speciality it makes the enjoyment a little elicit, so even better.
Staying on the subject of automatic responses, there was one which has cost a German insurance company quite a sum. It would appear that one of their customers wanted to terminate an agreement so, using an accepted system, contacted the company via email to tell them so, and asking for acknowledgment of receipt.
What he got was an auto reply but in addition the company included an advert at the bottom of the email. Irritated by the presumption he complained to the Data Controller, suggesting that it was email marketing, which he had not consented to. This generated an auto response which contained the self same advert.
The chap decided that this was taking the mickey so complained again and received a third auto response and third advert.
Admit it; it is funny. What did the chap expect?
Via a different medium he complained to the company only to be told, in effect, that they disagreed with his interpretation. The chap’s next communication was to the regulatory authorities.
After a series of decisions the courts found in his favour, saying that the final email at least was an infringement of the chap’s rights. He’d made his desires with regards to email marketing very clear, albeit to a machine.
Whilst it is dangerous to accept a decision in a foreign country, it would be silly to ignore it. So what should you do?
Firstly, ensure that any auto reply to an email which carries an advert only goes to someone on your email marketing lists. Anything less is a banana skin.
Secondly, have separate email addresses or other systems where cancellations and perhaps complaints are identified early on and treated with consideration.
Thirdly, don’t panic and remove promotions from your auto responses without reason. Consider wording them with great care, with different content for different types of customers.