In my corner of the continent global warming has truly reared its ugly head this year as we have had temperatures well above not just normal but beyond living memory right through the summer. Faced with such Death Valley level temps I purchased a portable air conditioner just to try to survive. It worked well for about six weeks then suddenly made a frightful noise like an 18-wheeler at 90 mph with 17 flat tires then blew out the circuit breaker. Given the big box store where I purchased it has a 30 day return policy, I contacted the manufacturer… and thus began the endless, frustrating, and outright maddening “no-reply email loop.”

Go away, customer! Stop bothering us!

For a reason known only to them some companies still love to rely on sending out emails which originate from a no-reply address. These emails are usually accompanied by a notice boasting that the customer should not reply to the email as it will not be read. At this point each and every online marketer should stop and take a deep breath while they consider this policy. Let’s see… we all readily acknowledge that email is the most efficient and effective means to reach out to your customer base, and that transactional emails can bear metrics which place just about every other type of email marketing missive to shame, and so how do we want to handle such a mission critical messaging stream? Why, we not only make it impossible for the customer to reply to us at all, but we spell it out in large type at the bottom of the email: Do not reply because we don’t want to hear from you! Go away! Stop bothering us! We’re busy convincing our supervisors that we’re doing a great customer outreach job to actually communicate with a customer!

Sending no-reply emails for all eternity

Any company anywhere which utilizes a no-reply email address literally has no business being in business, but shortly they will have no business of any kind anyway, so the entire situation is strictly academic anyway. In my case, the no-reply emails which keep flooding in continue to ask me to return to my local store with the RMA number they’ve provided. Of course they are completely oblivious to the fact that the old and busted air conditioner has been in some back room of that store for over a month. But there is no way to tell them that, since not only do they have a no-reply email but their toll free number (and every other phone number I’ve been able to find for them through Google searches) all end up with the same voice mail box where you leave a message and never ever get a reply. However, someone does listen to those voice mails as that’s how the no-reply email loop started in the first place. This outlines a true zenith in customer service excellence. Your customer calls in, provides their info and asks for an RMA then you send no-reply emails for eternity with that number and provide absolutely no way for the customer to stop them.

Does your company encourage or block customer input?

If this whole debacle seems like a perfect way for any online brand marketer to ensure that their emails end up in spam folders, then it is completely true. How admirable for a company to spend millions of dollars on its marketing campaigns when their true goal is just to be rated among the most blocked emailers right alongside Canadian Pharmacies located in Russia. Although it may seem tragicomical, the basic question that must be asked is: “Does your company encourage or block customer input?” What part of the online marketing course did you miss when they discussed encouraging customer conversation?

Oh, as for my air conditioner, the kind manager at the local store was very understanding and replaced it with a new one which is working perfectly. And as for the no-reply emails from the manufacturer? They’re still arriving in my inbox twice a week, and it seems likely that they will continue unabated for the rest of time.