Sunday, April 26, 2009

On incomplete Emails - the original post

An updated version of this article is here

All too often I receive emails from customers with questions about technical issues. Now, please remember that from my side I think about this as a business communication, not a personal one. What I would expect is at least proper identification and contact info, i.e. the sender's full name, address info and phone number. Please do that in every email you send to me or I have to go on a wild goose chase for that info.
And frankly spoken, I don't have the time to chase this sort of wild geese. If this info is missing most likely you will get a standard reply, text see below following the ---------
Please consider as well:
  • That my email advice is a free service!
  • And signed with Polli is NOT correct identification.
  • This thoughtless incivility is pretty rude – in my book at least.
And no, I am not going to apologize for this remark. You can not expect a civil and matter-of-fact response if the most basic information, politeness and formality are missing, sorry.
Please remember, I do not retain any personal info about my customers!
Please include technical info on what you are asking about; that includes all technical details, like what operating system you use, what program you are asking about, the version number and so on.
In this context it may be adequate to point to one of the IMHO better web sites about Netiquette (etiquette on the Internet), especially the pages about email etiquette.
And another thing in this context: It has happened that after receiving above mentioned reminder email I got a reply with just the name, phone number and address. That is outright rude, sorry. PLEASE use the Reply button and leave all original text in the mail; this way I have the context of the original question in the email and do not need to go on a trip with the divining rod to find the original mail. Thank you for your cooperation.
Subsequently added: You may want to read this post as well; it gives more information concerning the same basic issue. 
Another BIG issue is the amount of advice about trivial basic things that is being asked. When you're asking a professional for free information and advice then please always remember what Abraham Lincoln said:
"A lawyer's time and advice are his stock in trade."
"Stock in trade" means what he or she sells in order to earn a living. Just as a lawyer's knowledge of the law is her/his "stock in trade" my knowledge and experience with computers is my "stock in trade".
Please be reasonable about how much free work and advice you are asking for. And let me know that you tried to find an answer yourself and where you looked for it. Trust me, there are way too many people out there that just ask without ever having made the slightest attempt at finding an answer themselves.
When I get an e-mail like, "how can I turn the greyed-out save as back on" I have to ask for more specifics or just refer the sender to my blog. A carefully targeted question, such as "How can I activate Save As... in Firefox's File Menu when it is greyed out" will get a specific answer and not just a link to my blog.
And, by the way, with enough interest in your computer and security on the Internet you could have read my blog in the first place, right?
And in this context something different: Currently it is happening that possibly a child of a customer is emailing me; he did not tell me whose child he is, he does not give me his address, only his cell number. He seems not to understand that I can get in trouble with the law if I communicate with him without parental consent. So please, I need to be able to identify what customer you are related with if you are a minor son or daughter of a customer! Your personal cell phone number is NOT sufficient, I need parental consent. And please consider that I did not “make” this society and it’s laws.
As usual I welcome comments and suggestions right here in the blog.
Thank you in advance.
I am very sorry but I can't help with a quick phone call that might solve your immediate problem. Why? Because sadly you did not give me your phone number in your email. This way I can not help directly with a quick phone call to eventually resolve your problem via remote support.
Please read this entry on my blog and amend this and all future emails accordingly.
This is obligatory for all support questions by email, always and every time!
Please use Reply, do not just write a new email. Reply keeps the context in the email and thus saves a lot of time consuming and frustrating search.
Thank you for your cooperation.


Unknown said...

hey EIKE..i listen to you on the radio whenever your anyway i too install Avast on my customer pc's,but ive noticed you havent spoken about MalwareBytes and SuperAntiSpyware what gives? i know they dont offer real time protection like some of the others you use,but they are good programs..arent they?

Eike Heinze said...


Thanks for your comment.
Malwarebytes and Superantispyware are good programs. When I started to investigate the whole field of ant virus software They either were not yet around, or I missed them or they cost money like Malwarebytes which is only free for 30 days.
I favored the good free programs. Please read the entries from July and August 2009 about Microsoft's new anti virus solution. Maybe that I will switch my recommendation to that spftware, maybe even rather sooner than later.