Imagine an annoying kid yelling for your attention. He is jumping up and down, pulling on the leg of your pants, when you are doing something else. Even getting right in your face and interrupting you when you are watching your favorite DVD. Then finally, you give in, turn to the kid and talk to it. Right in that moment, he freezes, covers his ears starts humming, so he can't hear you and yells back at you, that he does not want to talk to you.


You would definitely be irritated.


The real world scenario is the common practice of no-reply-addresses with which businesses tend to talk to their customers. Here is my experience with 1&1. They are real attention seekers. For the last ten years, they are sending me spam mail and putting advertisements on websites I visit. Recently, they even started interrupting my television with their tv-advertisemts. Always when I did not want to communicate with them. A few weeks ago, they even called me at work to tell me how much they liked having me as a customer.


Wow. I was flattered. As a symbol of their gratitude, they even wanted to give me something - for FREE. A melekstsheensh. Whatever that was. I kept asking until I figured that it was just a problem of enunciation and the product was in fact called Mail-Exchange. That made more sense. BTW, this is something that might annoy me even more: mixing languages. But the marketing-people at 1&1 came up with the name and now the employees have to use it in German sentences. End of story.


During the course of the phone-call, it turned out, that the phone-droid was selling me an expensive upgrade with just the first month free of charge. I kept asking, what the shiny new product was for and he told me that I definitely had to try it. It was basically about having information at hand on any device. On my phone, desktop or work computer. I should try it and I could quit any time if I did not like it.


That sounded fair and I was curious. The contract was done via a telefone recording and a few minutes later, I received an email about my new Mail-Exchange. But within minutes after I downloaded the manual, I was disappointed. The lengthy pdf-document illustrated how to set up stuff, that I already had by using an iPhone, Apples Mobile-Me and Dropbox. No new features, just complicated setup-procedures. A look at the clock told me that I was just talked into wasting half an hour of my workday. Time better spent doing anything else. Most favorably with my wife and children at home.


So I looked for the button to quit this Mail-Exchange time thief before it started costing money. I could not find anything, so I replied to their email and asked them where to find it. The answer was nice and quick. The button was not implemeted, yet, but I could send them an email anytime I wanted to quit. 


Right after that, I received an email asking me how I liked their support. It included a link to a questionnaire. Well, my answer was not that simple and I did not want to simply click a multiple-choice answer. So I decided to write them an email about my experience and my personal perception. It might help them improve the product, the documentation and their marketing. After writing and sending it, I felt better and wanted to continue my work. Suddenly, I got an automatic reply telling me that I did something wrong: I replied to a no-reply-address. The web-server was configured to treat my thoughts as spam and deleted it so that nobody would ever waste their precious time reading it. That really got me angry. They had no problem pesting me for the last decade and now that I had something to say, they told me, that they did not like to hear from me. 


I can understand, that not every company likes to be bothered with off-topic requests, that do not have much to do with achieving their goals. I fully understand Steve Jobs, when he told a student who basically asked Apple to do her homework to "leave us alone".


Heck, she got the attention. Getting told that your mail was discarded immediately feels a lot worse. Why do companies still use no-reply-addresses?

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