People who own businesses should not act like assholes

By | January 26, 2019

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:

From: "T. Jones" Subject: Like your plug in, but It needs a STOP button! When I'm done sending and close the program, if I reopen it, it just keeps sending. Please add a STOP button!

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:

Recurring scheduled drafts can be canceled by either removing from the Drafts folder or just by opening the draft for editing -- when you open a scheduled draft it is removed.  If you're talking about a scheduled message that keeps resending even though you told it to only send once, then that's because your Drafts folder or Outbox is corrupt, a Thunderbird bug, not a Send Later bug. Right-click on both folders and open their properties and select "Repair folder" to fix that.

Apparently he didn’t like that answer:

Thank you for your response. Unfortunately that does not solve the issue. I have a terrible landlord who does not answer the phone, so when there is an emergency, I use your add-on to send an email every 2 minutes until the situation is resolved. Once he does, I just exit Thunderbird (because I receive emails on my mobile device, there's no need to keep it open other than to send emails every 2 minutes). When I return to the computer and open up Thunderbird, the emails continue to go out even though the situation has passed. If you do the "intuitive" thing and right click on "send now", there is no stop option. There's no stop on the toolbar. The first time I used it, I could not find where the email was even located (on my system it's not even in "drafts", it's in local / outbox). If I cannot figure it out within 2 minutes, it sends another one and so on and so on. Thus, the only way to get it to stop is to totally disconnect from the internet and then load Thunderbird and then go an disable the add-on and then restart it. If you exit while it is sending, you get a warning box. If we can't have a stop button, can there be a box that displays upon opening asking whether or not to continue sending delayed emails?

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:

Maybe once the issue is resolved instead of "just exit[ing] Thunderbird" you should delete the scheduled draft.  It doesn't sound like the tool is the problem here, it sounds like you are using the tool wrong.  If you have a message set up to email every two minutes, then when you want it to stop, delete the message.

Again, apparently he did not like my answer:

I think you're right. I'll find a comprehensive tool since a stop button is too much to ask for despite the fact virtually every product you use has a stop function. I hope you never design any sort of vehicle with that mentality.

OK, so, that’s enough of that:

It is free software which I have spent countless volunteer hours creating and maintaining.  If you don't like it, you're welcome not to use it.  You are also welcome to give me constructive feedback about it, which I am can then either agree or disagree with.  You are also welcome to make whatever changes to the code that you think would be a good idea and submit them as as PR at https://github.com/jikamens/send-later/.  What you are not welcome to do is give me shit about the fact that I don't agree with you about a particular feature you think I should add.  Life is too short to waste time dealing with assholes, so any further emails from you will be burned without reading.

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:

I always get my point across you rude little asshole. Maybe you can't add a stop button because you dont know. Fuck you and your add-on. I'll get an Indian programmer to make a better one.

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:

Congratulations, you've just earned your business 1-star reviews on Yelp and Google.  You'll have to waste your time finding another address to email me from if you want to continue to be an asshole, because I've blocked this one too.

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:

Dear Mr. Kamens:  It has come to our attention that you have left false and inappropriate remarks about a managing partner of MatrixTechs on Google reviews. You are not a client of MatrixTechs and have not received any goods or services from MatrixTechs. Google reviews are for clients and not for people who are upset with individual partners.  We would like to take this opportunity to request that you remove your inappropriate remarks that you placed this morning on Google which criticize Mr. Jones. Your argument is personal in nature and not with the company and as such, a Google review is not the place to express your opinion about Mr. Jones. We have also requested that Google investigate this issue further.  Mr. Jones has not written anything about you in a public forum; we request you do the same.   I thank you in advance for your cooperation.

And this, gentle reader, is why I am laughing, and why I decided to write about this on my blog. In particular:

  1. 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.
  2. 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!
  3. Notice how they also couldn’t even manage to spell my name properly.
  4. Notice how Ms. Armstrong apparently can’t remember what her own email address is.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

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