Turning away customers

Freshness Warning
This article is over 15 years old. It's possible that the information you read below isn't current.

That’s nice. I found a problem on Major League Baseball’s Web site and sent their general-contact email address a short message detailing the problem and gave them a solution. My email was immediately returned to me.

Hi. This is the qmail-send program at mail1.chek.com.
I’m afraid I wasn’t able to deliver your message to the following addresses. This is a permanent error; I’ve given up. Sorry it didn’t work out.


Sorry, your intended recipient has too much mail stored in their mailbox. Your message totalled 2314 bytes, which would bring them over quota. However a smaller message might go through should you wish to inform the person you tried to email.

There’s so much wrong with this that I don’t even know where to start.

  • You provide an address for people to contact you for help and that address is broken (of all the addresses to put a quota on, this wouldn’t be it).
  • When an error occurs, you send a message back to them that’s filled with tech-speak.
  • You offer a solution that is technical enough that most people won’t be able to figure out. (Go ask your dad how many words would fit into 2314 bytes.)
  • The response message has spelling and grammatical errors. (Totalled should be totaled and however needs a comma after it.)
  • The fact that your mailbox is full in the first place indicates that you don’t check it very often.

Go grab a pen and write this down. If a customer is going to go to the trouble of contacting you, it’s important, at least to them. Make sure you’ll see it.

July 9, 2003 3:35 PM

I'm fond of automated responses that try to convey emotion ("I'm afraid..." - "Sorry"), acting as if the server was not only capable of those feelings, but as if fear and sorrow were the appropriate responses (and maybe they are). Incidentally, the use of totalled may be deprecated, but it does not appear to be incorrect: http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=totalled

July 9, 2003 8:59 PM

Well, that's better than the response I usually get when I send in a report pointing out an anomaly on a web site: "Switch to MSIE on a Windows machine. That's what we tested it on and what we officially support."

Trackback from inluminent/weblog
July 9, 2003 9:26 PM

How to Turn Away Customers - MLB

Excerpt: Adam blogs a quick diddy about how Major League Baseball is turning away customers. The kicker for me is this

Stewart Johnson
July 12, 2003 3:56 AM

I believe that both "totaled" and "totalled" are valid. (Just like "artefact" and "artifact" are both valid..) Go figure.

Adam Kalsey
July 12, 2003 10:17 AM

You appear to be correct. Many dictionaries list "totalled" as an alternate spelling. Some list it as an archaic spelling. At any rate, I don't think they spelled it that way on purpose.

Philip Tellis
October 31, 2003 12:36 AM

In English, "totalled" is the correct spelling, and "totaled" is incorrect. In American, "totaled" is correct. The site being American though, tends to suggest that it should be "totaled"... and no matter how hard I try, I just cannot type "totalled" in with a single l.

March 25, 2006 11:26 AM

http://www3.ca.com/securityadvisor/virusinfo/virus.aspx?id=49473 if you scroll down to "method of distribution" it sounds like this might be the work of a virus... I got the same message after emailing a hotmail.co.uk address

Your comments:

Text only, no HTML. URLs will automatically be converted to links. Your email address is required, but it will not be displayed on the site.


Not your company or your SEO link. Comments without a real name will be deleted as spam.

Email: (not displayed)

If you don't feel comfortable giving me your real email address, don't expect me to feel comfortable publishing your comment.

Website (optional):

Follow me on Twitter

Best Of

  • How not to apply for a job Applying for a job isn't that hard, but it does take some minimal effort and common sense.
  • Movie marketing on a budget Mark Cuban's looking for more cost effective ways to market movies.
  • California State Fair The California State Fair lets you buy tickets in advance from their Web site. That's good. But the site is a horror house of usability problems.
  • Customer reference questions. Sample questions to ask customer references when choosing a software vendor.
  • Comment Spam Manifesto Spammers are hereby put on notice. Your comments are not welcome. If the purpose behind your comment is to advertise yourself, your Web site, or a product that you are affiliated with, that comment is spam and will not be tolerated. We will hit you where it hurts by attacking your source of income.
  • More of the best »

Recently Read

Get More

Subscribe | Archives


Assumptions and project planning (Feb 18)
When your assumptions change, it's reasonable that your project plans and needs change as well. But too many managers are afraid to go back and re-work a plan that they've already agreed to.
Feature voting is harmful to your product (Feb 7)
There's a lot of problems with using feature voting to drive your product.
Encouraging 1:1s from other managers in your organization (Jan 4)
If you’re managing other managers, encourage them to hold their own 1:1s. It’s such an important tool for managing and leading that everyone needs to be holding them.
One on One Meetings - a collection of posts about 1:1s (Jan 2)
A collection of all my writing on 1:1s
Are 1:1s confidential? (Jan 2)
Is the discussion that occurs in a 1:1 confidential, even if no agreed in the meeting to keep it so?
Skip-level 1:1s are your hidden superpower (Jan 1)
Holding 1:1s with peers and with people far below you on the reporting chain will open your eyes up to what’s really going on in your business.
Do you need a 1:1 if you’re regularly communicating with your team? (Dec 28)
You’re simply not having deep meaningful conversation about the process of work in hallway conversations or in your chat apps.
What agenda items should a manager bring to a 1:1? (Dec 23)
At least 80% of a 1:1 agenda should be driven by your report, but if you also to use this time to work on things with them, then you’ll have better meetings.

Subscribe to this site's feed.


Adam Kalsey

Mobile: 916.600.2497

Email: adam AT kalsey.com

Twitter, etc: akalsey



©1999-2019 Adam Kalsey.