Turning away customers

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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

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