PS I Hate You

July 19, 2010

1. PS – Why would anyone need a PS? E-mail is an electronic form of communication. You can add words and they are made to fit. If you are having to write out all your e-mails again when you make a mistake, and mop up blots, then my guess is that you have been sold a really old-fashioned computer.
2. Pretty e-mails – Where is the text in this carefully designed template that echoes your firm’s notepaper and web site? Ah! – there it is. The three words just before the 6 pages of signatures and disclaimers.
3. Forwarding – So you have responded to my query by forwarding this e-mail and it does indeed contain exactly the piece of information I required. The catch is that it is to be found in the last line of a 7 e-mail chain. Still forwarding was so much quicker and more efficient than telling me what I need to know – FOR YOU!
4. Thanks – I know it is polite to say thank you. And you may have been told at primary school that manners cost nothing. But it has just cost me 60 seconds of my life. I thought you had something important to add and it turns out I stopped what I was doing and opened your e-mail just so you could get a gold star from Miss.
5. Absence of thanks – I went to all that trouble in answering your query and you haven’t even responded with ‘Thanks’.
6. Inconsistent thank you policies – People who always send you one word ‘thanks’ e-mails suddenly switch policies so that, just when I had decided to delete all their replies, they have sent me an e-mail saying ‘stop the presses’, ‘the plane is cancelled’ or ‘I meant 300 not 3000’. How was I to know not to delete it unread?
7. Meaningless pleasantries – I am all for humanising and exchanging information beyond the business-like – with people I know, even people I know only through e-mail. But if you are a PR person I have never met or previously exchanged a line with, you don’t {i}really{/i} hope I am well and you don’t {i}really{/i} care what I did over the weekend. We are exchanging business communications. If you really do care what I do over the weekends, that’s practically stalking. (If you know PR people who think I spend weekends sheep shearing and/or entering goat-herding competitions, please don’t disillusion them. I especially treasure the e-mail that congratulated me on coming third in the North Wiltshire goat-herd heats.)
8. Pasting in complex documents – It might just be possible to make sense of what you sent me in its native form, but your 6-column action list is pretty well incomprehensible in an e-mail. You may be a commitment-phobe but, in this context, an attachment really won’t hurt.
9. Forgotten attachments – Anybody can forget to attach the document and it is highly forgivable (ie I do it all the time). What is less readily forgivable is going on holiday 10 seconds later when nobody else knows where the missing document can be found. But the most annoying thing of all is getting e-mails from all 7 recipients telling me that I have forgotten the attachment just before I have managed to send my ‘Sorry. I forgot the attachment’ e-mail. You might at least give me a few seconds to correct my error – it’s not as if I am going on holiday (this time).
10. Out of office messages– These are annoying on three levels. First, there is the ‘na na na na na’ element. Especially at this time of year, the message could be adapted to read (marginally less professionally) as follows: ‘I am on holiday, soaking up the sun and wine in Sorrento, and you are not. Yah boo’. Secondly, there is the out of office message that gives 8 August as the return date – when it is now 12 August. Thirdly, there is the out-of-office message tactic – you know that they are in their office because you just spoke to them there, but according to this lying e-mail they are not back until Thursday.
11. Multiple recipients – We all have to send group e-mails from time to time but once it gets to 63 names in the header you may need to think again. It is possible to send to lots of people without including the full list – it’s not even hard. It’s probably not too bad for normal people but I always find myself reading the list wondering if there is anybody in it that I know. Furthermore, my area of interest is computers {i}and{/i} law – I appreciate that your PR company has a list with law on it and another with computers on it, but that doesn’t mean I want to hear about {i}everything{/i} to do with computers and {i}everything{/i} to do with law.
12. Multiple e-mails – If you were going to ask me 7 questions, why not put them all in one e-mail instead of sending me 7 e-mails with one question in each? Or, a radical and innovative suggestion, pick up the phone and ring me.
13. Emoticons – V
14. Grammar and spelling free zones – Nobody minds the odd typo, which is why there are some here, but (a) it is not a txt msj so text-speak is napropryte, (b) there is a spellchecker in most programs and (c) if you expect me to read it, don’t you think you should read it first to make sure it actually makes some sort of sense. And if you are going to try and con me out of all my assets with a phishing e-mail, please have the grace to spell a few words of the words right.

Any further suggestions? I need another 36 for a Channel 4 programme I am hoping to have commissioned.