Please Don't Buy Anything From Me

by Tim Knox
Copyright © 2005

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This has been an interesting week. My company has thousands of customers around the world, so my team and I are used to dealing with customer support issues and do everything possible to make sure every customer gets exactly what they paid for.

And 99.999% of the time our customers are extremely happy.

Then there is that other .001%...

This week I had one customer threaten to
hunt be down and shoot me like a dog.

Another said that if she
could get her hands around my neck she'd strangle the life out of me.

And still another sincerely hoped that I "burn in Hell for all

What did I do to deserve these threats?

Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Why then are these people who I assume are otherwise nice, normal human beings wishing me such ill will?

Here's the full story...

It's because they ordered something from one of my websites and
they did not receive the confirmation email in a timely manner.

That's it. An email didn't reach their inbox.

And being human, which is the most suspicious and non-trusting
species on the planet, these wonderful folks decided that since
they didn't receive the email as quickly as they felt they
should, I was a scammer out to steal their money and that I
should be shot, strangled, and condemned to Hell for all

All because they didn't receive an email.

And was it my fault that they didn't receive the email?

Nope, not at all. My entire system is automated and works like a charm.

Did they take the time to logically think about the possible
reasons that the email was not received?

Did it ever occur to them that the blame might lie in their own email filters or their ISP's filters?

Did it ever cross their mind that the email might just be sitting in their spam folder (as was the case in each of these examples)?

Nope, instead they decided - within MINUTES of clicking the buy
button - that your old buddy, Tim, was the spawn of Satan and a scam artist just out to
steal their money.

And do you think it ever occurred to these good, decent folks to
click the customer service email link that is clearly shown on
their sales receipt to request that their information be sent

Nope and nope again. That would have made too much sense.

Do you think they took the time to read the long explanation on
the sales receipt and the order "thanks page" that explains that sometimes email filters
block delivery of download emails and they should contact customer service if they have a problem?

Nope,nope, and nope.

Instead, they somehow found my personal email address and started
sending me death threats.

Let me tell you, nothing warms the cockles of your heart (did you know your heart had cockles?) like
receiving an email from a customer who actually has the word "God" in their email address who hopes that
you burn in HE-double hockey sticks because he didn't receive an email with his
order information.

So this leads me back to the beginning of my story.

Please Don't Buy Anything From Me...

At least until you read the rest of the story...

First, let me explain the mechanics of online ordering.

When you come to one of my websites and click a button to
purchase a product, here's what happens.

  1. My website adds the product to a shopping cart.
  2. When
    you click to proceed you either pay by credit card or are taken to Paypal, where you can log
    in to an existing Paypal account or set up a new account.
  3. On
    the last page of the checkout process there is a button
    labeled "CONTINUE." When you click the CONTINUE button you are
    taken back to my website to the product download page.
  4. The credit card processor or Paypal transmits a signal back to my system that lets me know
    that you made a purchase.
  5. My system displays the link to your
    order information on the download page and at the same time sends
    your order information to the email address you used to place the

The entire process is instantaneous and automated.

And it works
extremely well. At least on my end.

It is when my system attempts to deliver the email to the
customer's email address that problems sometime occur.

It's estimated that only about 25% of emails get past ISP spam
filters now.

Especially if the recipient uses a free email system like Hotmail,
Yahoo, Gmail, and MSN.

And many ISPs, namely AOL, Comcast, Cox, Earthlink, and Juno,
just to name a few, also heavily filter their user's emails
without the user ever knowing it.

Of the 25% that the ISP actually lets through, the user's email program filters out another 3/4 of those.

So every now and then an email sent by my system does not end up
in the customer's inbox, but gets blocked by the ISP or filtered
by the user's email program to a junk or spam folder.

And when that happens most customers are sane and polite and simply
request that their information be sent again, which we are more
than happy to do.

Then again, some customers immediately think that they have been
scammed and that I should be put to death.

People. Gotta love 'em...

So the next time you buy something from me or any other reputable online vendor and the email doesn't
hit your inbox as quickly as you think it should, instead of
pulling out the torches and pitchforks and screaming for blood,
check your spam folder to see if the information is there.

If it is, problem solved. Put your pitchfork away.

If it isn't, don't blow your top and start sending death threats.

Just politely ask that it be sent again.

Email is an imperfect medium.

Remember that the next time you threaten to shoot, strangle, or
condemn to Hell someone who has done you no wrong.

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