One-way communications frustrate recipients . . .

"Do Not Reply to This E-mail"
by Conrad Weisert, July, 2008

© 2008, Information Disciplines, Inc., Chicago. This article may be circulated freely as long as this copyright notice is included.

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We've been getting a lot of E-mail messages lately that instruct the recipient not to reply. Sometimes they explain that the sender's address does not accept incoming messages. Here's an example:

Please do not reply to this message via e-mail. This address is automated, unattended, and cannot help with questions or requests.

We don't mind that if the message was junk mail (SPAM), but it often accompanies a legitimate communication that we urgently need to reply to. We may be directed to the sender's web site, where we look for the organization's E-mail address. All too often, however, we don't find one.

Instead a contact us link directs us to a web form containing a small space into which we can type a short message. We can't use the facilities of our regular local E-mail program either to compose or to file the message we're going to send.

It gets worse. Before we can actually send the message, we may be required to sign in or register, using a password. Once we get past that formality and seek to send a message, we may run into yet another phenomenon: the multiple-choice controlled E-mail. We have to choose from a menu of categories (place order, complaint, inquiry, . . . ), which may or may not contain an entry appropriate to what we need to communicate.

All that is irritating when we're trying to initiate contact, but infuriating when we're just responding to an E-mail message from an organization. In the past few weeks I have received such do-not-reply E-mails from:

Those organizations should be made to understand that it is extremely rude to send a do-not-reply E-mail message. If you send me an E-mail then I must be able to reply in the normal way. If you violate that basic courtesy then:


Last modified (typo correction) April 23, 2011

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