People. PEOPLE! I just have to tell you this story, because it’s just SO DARN FUNNY that I can’t bear to keep it to myself. Ha ha!
I maintain a Thunderbird add-on called Send Later which has about 82,000 users, give or take. It’s consistently ranked in the top 15 most popular Thunderbird add-ons. It lets people schedule messages to be sent at a later time, either once or on a recurring schedule.
I got this email a couple of days ago from a user of the add-on:
There are two things that can cause a message sent via Send Later to be sent repeatedly, so I replied and explained how to address either of them:
Apparently he didn’t like that answer:
So. I have already explained to the user that the way to stop a recurring message from sending is to delete it or edit it in the Drafts folder. I understood the problem that he was trying to solve, and I explained to him the method that the add-on provides for solving it. This, apparently, was the “wrong” answer. I tried again:
Again, apparently he did not like my answer:
OK, so, that’s enough of that:
That’s where I would have left things if Mr. Tobin Jones, the owner of MatrixTechs LLC in Miami, Florida, hadn’t chosen to take things one step further than he should have.
If someone tells you that they don’t want you to email them anymore and that they’re going to delete any further emails from you unread, then the right thing to do is to stop emailing them, not to email them from a different email address to try to get in the last word. And yet, that’s what Mr. Jones decided to do:
Now, finally, we get to the point of why people who own businesses should not act like assholes. Because nowadays businesses — especially IT businesses, like the one Mr. Jones owns — are reviewed online, and people look for those reviews when deciding whether to patronize a business, and if the owner or an employee acts like an asshole, people can let other people know that:
Here is what I posted about Mr. Jones’s business on Yelp, Google, and Facebook (which didn’t occur to me until after I sent the above email):
The owner is a rude and confrontational person who doesn’t understand the basics of how to use computer software and then blames and swears at the creators of that software for telling him that he’s using it wrong.
Also, apparently when his landlord doesn’t answer the phone quickly enough for him, he harasses the landlord by sending him automated emails every two minutes until the issue is resolved to his satisfaction.
Mr. Jones is now apparently trying to convince Yelp and Google to remove my review, and perhaps he’ll do the same with my review on Facebook when he finds it. Perhaps he’ll even be successful; I don’t know and I don’t really care.
But there’s a much faster and more effective way he could have gotten me to take down those bad reviews: he could have apologized for acting like an asshole. Here’s what he did instead:
And this, gentle reader, is why I am laughing, and why I decided to write about this on my blog. In particular:
- A “Jr. Legal Assistant” is what you call yourself when you’re trying to sound all blustery and intimidating and scare the person you’re writing to, when you can’t actually call yourself an attorney because impersonating an attorney is illegal.
- They put my mailing address in the email to make it look more official and more intimidating (“Ha, ha! Look! We have your home address! We can make trouble for you! Ha, ha!”). I’ve blurred it out here not because I have any illusions about the fact that anyone on the internet can find my mailing address in about thirty seconds if they really want to, but rather because I see no reason to make it any easier. But here’s the funny thing: they misspelled the name of the street I live on. They couldn’t even copy and paste my address properly. Boy, I’m quaking in my boots here!
- Notice how they also couldn’t even manage to spell my name properly.
- Notice how Ms. Armstrong apparently can’t remember what her own email address is.
- Asking someone not to call you out in public for being an asshole, without apologizing, is a pretty sure-fire way to inspire them to call you out in public for being an asshole.
- When you harass someone — and yes, it’s harassment to email someone and call them a “rude little asshole” when they’ve told you not to email them anymore — you really shouldn’t be surprised when they decide to warn other people about what kind of person you are.
Oh, by the way, I did send Ms. Armstrong a response to the above email. It consisted of one word: “Lol”.
In closing, let me direct a final comment at Mr. Jones and Ms. Armstrong: there is an easy way for you to convince me to remove all of the reviews I posted as well as this blog posting. I’ve even told you what it is. See if you can figure it out.
So first off, anyone can be an asshole and it’s not fair to label just business owners. Second, nice job on maintaining your composure that long, I actually felt like you were working with a paying (asshole) client. Third it sounds like the problem here is that you built a tool that allows people to spam the hell out of people that may not be technically inclined enough to block/burn those email. I kinda feel bad for his landlord if he’s stuck with a lease…
I wrote a tool which is extraordinarily useful to all sorts of people for all sorts of entirely legitimate reasons. It’s impossible to support the functionality that so many people find useful while at the same time preventing assholes from abusing it. The vast majority of people using Send Later are doing so for completely legitimate, non-assholish reasons.
I will point out that part of the reason I reacted with such hostility to this particular user was exactly because the use case he described is dickish and I was therefore disinclined to treat him kindly. The fact that he chooses to use my add-on to spam his landlord like that — and sees nothing wrong with admitting that he’s doing so — is kind of appalling.
You should put this on /r/AITA and IMHO in this case it is you. There was no cursing before you introduced it. All you had to say was “I’ll think about it” but instead you escalated in every turn.
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