Marketing Maladies – communication

This story starts with me receiving the following email. I have edited out the names for obvious reasons, but everything else about the story is exactly as it happened.

“Dear Ramana
This is to let you know that your copy of the above was sent through XYZ Couriers yesterday. The air waybill number is 12345678.

With regards

I replied as follows:

Dear Ms. Raipure,

I am indeed grateful that you have sent the book off. Thank you. I am also impressed that you have informed me about the despatch and having given me the waybill number etc. I thank you once again.

I am an Indian. I am 65 years old and in our culture I am at an age where I am revered. I do not know how old you are, but even if you are close to retiring, I am still too old for you to take the liberty of calling me by my first name. I am offended.

I write this not because it will in any way reduce the sense of outrage, but to convey to you that it is the custom, even in the land of the most informal, the USA to get some one’s permission before addressing him by his first name. I hope that with this mail, you will be able to appreciate our customs and values, and will refrain from this obnoxious practice of calling strangers by their first names.


I received the following mail in response:

Dear Mr Rajgopaul
I apologise. It was never my intention to offend you.

With regards


The background.

A leading newspaper advertised a new book and offered it for sale online. I quite liked the contents of the book and placed an order online for the book. After the book was dispatched, this exchange of correspondence took place.

My observation on the event.

I suppose that modern ways of communicating with customers are different from the way we were taught to communicate. I feel sad. Perhaps I am an anachronism, fit only to live in the past. I somehow cannot believe that the apology is genuine. Neither the tone nor the brevity of the message suggests it.

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