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Email Goof-Up, or Don’t Diss Your Customers

I was sent an email yesterday that originated from a café in a largish town in Victoria, and has since gone viral and been featured both online and in printed media all over the world, on Facebook, Twitter and heavens knows where else. It’s about a silly email mistake, and is also a lesson on a) never disrespecting a customer, and b) never ever putting negative comments in writing. Here’s the email trail, profanities removed:


From: Morrissy Family
Sent: Tuesday, 28 July 2009 12:41 PM
To: Abbey Sherwell
Subject: soft cafe group may results summary

Hi Abbey,
May 2009 results collated on my own spread sheet are as follows:
Gross Turnover $8,537
less discount ($2,024) 25% with cap at $15 for $60 spend
Net Turnover $6,513

255 vouchers average $33 per voucher
$8537 divided by average spend per customer = 580 people

We were unable to train staff before May to document the spend when cap was reached, so I took an average of those who spent more than $60 to gain a more accurate total spend. Is our spend high based on your averages , can you give me some feedback from your prospective and industry averages, Thankyou, Craig Morrissy

—– Original Message —–
From: Abbey Sherwell
To: Morrissy Family
Sent: Tuesday, July 28, 2009 12:55 PM
Subject: RE: soft cafe group may results summary


This guy is a dick…as you know, I have been trying to get him to track and he has decided to do it himself in some kind of f*****d up way! Is there any way we can put these results into our spreadsheet to get some kind of ROI?
Basically from what he’s given me, he has earnt 8,537 from the program and invested 2,024. He’s had 255 vouchers but that is from all 3 locations.

Why are all the people I deal with so f*****d in the head???

Abbey Sherwell | Account Manager
The brand new 2009/2010 Entertainment Books are here! Many community and fund-raising organisations now have the books available. Visit


From: Morrissy Family
Sent: Tuesday, 28 July 2009 1:00 PM
To: Abbey Sherwell
Subject: Re: soft cafe group may results summary

Thanks Abbey, recieved your feedback,
cancel our business with you immmediately, please inform your boss that vouchers will not be redemable at our cafes from tomorrow.
Craig Morrissy
I’m involved in a few networks of business peopele aroung Geelong, I can insure that they will be all recieving a copy of your email.


—– Original Message —–
From: Abbey Sherwell
To: Morrissy Family
Sent: Tuesday, July 28, 2009 1:07 PM
Subject: RE: soft cafe group may results summary


If you could let me explain, I would appreciate it.

I know it looks awful but it certainly was not as intended.

Abbey Sherwell | Account Manager
The brand new 2009/2010 Entertainment Books are here! Many community and fund-raising organisations now have the books available. Visit


From: Morrissy Family
Sent: Wednesday, 29 July 2009 10:40 am
To: (email addressees removed)
Subject: Fw: soft cafe group may results summary

To all business people on my data base,
this is no joke, be wary of what marketing groups you align and trust to be supportive of your business.
Craig Morrissy


Wow. How many of us have accidently hit reply rather than forward on an email? I know I’ve done it a couple of times, thankfully with no bad consequences beyond having to apologise and being slightly embarrassed. What Abbey did wrong here (apart from not checking who she sent it to!) was putting in writing negative thoughts regarding one of her customers.

Maybe Abbey was having a bad day. Maybe this was the 37th email she’d had that day with incorrect figures. We all have days and customers who totally drive us up the wall. It’s not at all uncommon for any of us to need to vent sometimes about the customer from hell. (Anyone want to hear about the schizophrenic client I had who ended up stalking me? *shudders*) However; there’s a time and place and appropriate means to do so. Email is not it. Any form of writing is not it.

Go and complain to someone in person. Talk to them. Yell at a tree if you need to, and you can kick and hit the tree too. Then when you feel better and slightly calmer, go back and deal with the customer.

I think Abbey and Craig have both learnt of the power of viral marketing, or at least the viral aspect of it. In these days of instant email, twitter, facebook and other forms of social media, anything that is put in writing is able to spread across the world within minutes. Think before you write, think before you post something. If your words were spread through the internet, would you be happy to have them read all over the world?

Abbey Sherwell was fired from her job because of her email.

Melinda Jameson

Melinda is the founder of SuperWAHM.com and started this site to share her best work from home ideas to help other Work At Home Mums become more financially independent and able to spend time with their families.

7 thoughts on “Email Goof-Up, or Don’t Diss Your Customers

  • @ Colleen, I’ve heard of a few others too but none as serious as this one. Definately not worth it!

    @ Barbara, I like your mum! That advice is just so much more relevant today than it ever was, when something you write can be spread around the world in minutes.

    Reminds me of the saying “If I can’t be a good example then let me be a terrible warning!”

  • It’s called “sit on your hands!”, ie, think before you type! Wow, what a horrible thing to have happen, both from the person who sent it…and the person who received it.

    I always remember words of wisdom from my mom – never put in writing things you don’t want ANYONE to read. It was brilliant when I was growing up and is still true today.
    .-= Barbara Ling, Virtual Coach´s last post…The Ultimate, MUST HAVE Tip For Your Website =-.

  • Oh all so true, and a great reminder of the extreme caution one should exercise before clicking send ! I have heard of other people who similarly have lost their jobs through such “hot headedness”…so not worth it for them I’m sure !
    .-= Colleen´s last post…Intentions for my Sister-Friend =-.

  • @ Bec, I do that regularly. My only problem with it is that it means that some clients and ICF members now have my personal email addy and blog url.

    @ Christie, Ouch on the racial slur! I’ll bet that caused some red faces and extreme embarrassment. Good point about the voice mails.

    @ Samar, I’ve done that too…. wasn’t flirting though, just chatting about stuff. Taught me to be very careful when I’ve got more than one chat window open!

  • Wow. Goes to show that our mothers were right: No situation justifies swearing.

    It’s easier to explain well worded negative comments than bad language.

    The most I’ve goofed up is typing an answer to my DH in a client’s chat window. Made for some seriously embarrassing moments since I was flirting and setting up a dinner date with DH. Thank God the client was amused when I explained!
    .-= Samar´s last post…Enter ‘The Best New Small Business Site Award’ and get a chance to win $10,000 =-.

  • Waaaaaaah! That is totally “how not to behave on email”. I was once a party to some bad email moves, where a racial slur about a person was buried in the forwarded messages, I did not read it all, and sent it to the person. ACK! Totally not my fault, you shouldn’t have to screen 16 messages in to an email to make sure the sender isn’t racist, but I felt awful. Don’t leave negative voice mails either, they can be saved and put on the web or played back to someone you don’t want to hear. Be nice people 🙂
    .-= Christie´s last post…More Free Biz Stuff This Week =-.

  • That’s a big oops! Lucky for me, the worst thing I’ve done by not being careful with email is to send my signature footer to the wrong person.

    There’s a similar issue with blogging, particularly if you work in a technical field. You’ve got to be careful what you write and post because once it’s on the internet it’s always on the internet.
    .-= Bec´s last post…So you don’t blog =-.

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