Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newspaper Serving the Community since 1988

  My Wife and Times

Daniel Will Harris

The Sandoval Signpost (Web edition) is pleased as punch (diet punch that is) to bring you the humor and insightful human observations of Daniel Will Harris, author of My Wife and Times. —Ed].


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—Daniel Will Harris

It all started when I e-mailed a web company from the feedback form on their web site. I politely explained my concerns and clicked "send." Their site took me to a page that said, "Although we cannot answer all e-mail personally, be assured that your suggestions and comments are very important to us..." Now—if it was really important, wouldn't they make the time to reply?

Why is it that many sites act as if they don't have to answer e-mail? It would be like if you had a phone number but never had anyone in your company answer the phone. You would never dream of doing that—and yet many sites do just that by not responding to all their e-mail (on the first ring).

I figured my e-mail had gone into the great cyber circular filing cabinet in the sky when I actually received a reply that read as if it had been writing by a computer:

"Dear Daniel, Hello! : ) I am Ste   , I would like to thank you for spending the time to write to us.  It is my pleasure to assist you regarding any concerns you may have because I highly value your commitment.

I want to thank you personally for writing to us with your thoughts and feelings. I understand you have concerns about the our service. Your opinion makes a difference.

Please accept my apology for any   difficulties and frustration you may have experienced with our service. Thanks again for     voicing your concerns.    For answers to your questions, please send mail to our corporate offices. The address is: PO Box 10810, Herndon, VA 22070

Thank you very much for your continued support. Have a great day! Your Online Friend, Steve, Customer Care Consultant"

Now that all sounds very personal, which is good. But it didn't answer my concerns at all, and just seemed like a series of almost amusingly generic apologies. And why could I not send e-mail to a major web company's corporate office? They must be connected to the web.

I wanted to see if this was really a standard reply. So I wrote another note, saying "I am concerned that I cannot e-mail your corporate offices. If they are having difficulty connecting to the internet, I can suggest several good ISP's they could use." The reply began, " Hello! : ) I am Mar  , I would like to thank you for spending the time to write to us... The rest of the e-mail was the same as the first one.

Hmmm. I sent two more e-mails, The first said "I am concerned that your company's logo looks like a black hole sucking up the universe. I believe this sends a bad message to the youth of this country."

The second said, "I need your help. My chinchilla, Dusty, is having difficulty logging onto your service because they keys on my keyboard are too large for his tiny feet. Is there something you can do about this?."

I received two more identical replies (well, the names changed—though they were always weirdly truncated in the first sentence as if the "mail-merge" somehow cut them off).

Unfortunately, the problem here is not just this company. The problem is that a lot of people on the web don't seem to "get" the fact that the web is a two-way street.

It's not just about throwing content into your visitor's face. It's about starting a conversation, a dialog. Yes, I know it takes time to answer e-mail. But the people writing to you are your visitors, your guests, your customers. Without them, you don't have a business. You work for them. When you think of it that way, it doesn't seem very smart to ignore their e-mail, does it?

I believe that reading and answering your e-mail is part of your responsibility as a citizen of the web. It's also good business. And more than that—it can be a useful, interesting, and valuable learning experience.

I'm not holding my breath to get a real answer from this company. Besides, my chinchilla really has no problem logging on or answering his email. Surely you can do as well as a rodent, can't you?


My Wife and Times Cover
If you would like to read more fabulous stories, you need Daniel Will Harris’s My Wife and Times. The 148 page book contains stories that are conveniently short, perfect for bedtime reading, or between airport friskings. Price: $15 postpaid and is available for purchase online at or on





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