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A Little Autoresponder Horror Story: How I Spammed 1 person 1,000 times in 1 Hour (True!)

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Autoresponder

2 min read

So, it was the eve of my long-planned vacation.

After months of grueling, strenuous work, I was granted a one-day reprieve to go and celebrate my birthday in style.

Priding myself at how on top of things I was, I decided to set up an email autoresponder, kindly explaining my whereabouts, when I'd be back and who to contact in case of an emergency.

After clicking "Enter" to execute my autoresponder parameters, I patted myself on the back for a "job well done."

In mere minutes, emails flooded into my inbox, responding to my autoresponder. At first, I thought it was so nice that I had so many well-wishers for my out-of-office endeavor…until I started reading them:

"Um. Wow. Thanks for letting me know that you're going to be out of the office."

"I think you made your point."

"Yes, yes, yes. I get it. You're going to be gone. Good. For. You."

Seriously taken aback at the relative snarkiness of the emails I was receiving, I barely had a moment to draft a clever response when my cell phone rang. Apparently, my very best friend who lives on the opposite coast woke up to over 1,000 "I'm Out of The Office" emails. Her email program died because of the immediate mass influx of my insanity.

How in God's name did I end up spamming so many people at once and repeatedly?

Apparently, I didn't check my email autoresponder parameters carefully.

Instead of selecting the option for automatically responding to an email received the day I was gone, I selected the crazy option to send this email to every single email address I ever was in communication with.

Yes, that's right. Whether I sent the email or received the email, it didn't matter. I responded to each and every single one of them.

Not once. Not twice. Not even three times did I spam these unsuspecting people. The amount of autoresponders sent was directly proportional to the number of times I communicated with a certain address.

Since, I email with my best friend more, than, say my boss does, she got it the worst. For every email between us, existed one autoresponder.

My silly email program scanned through my Sent, Receive, Junk and Trash boxes for addresses, and I was too clueless to understand the complexities of my autoresponder preferences.

"Noreplies," deceased relatives, frenemies, previous employers and former top-notch, super secret press contacts all learned of my upcoming absence.

Truly, the sad thing about this whole mess was that I was going to be out of the office for one whole day.

Sigh.

If this happens to you:

1. Don't freak out. Ever.

2. Identify what went wrong.

3. Immediately fix the problem.

4. Ensure that it'll never, ever happen again.

5. Laugh, because, really, it's quite funny.

6. Don't make excuses; apologize (once!) and move on.

7. Move on.

This story was not meant to scare you from using autoresponders because they are a powerful way to automate your email marketing program. This story was meant to showcase what can really go wrong if autoresponders are not setup or used as they should be. Do you also have a funny story (at least funny now) about an autoresponder adventure? We would love to hear it.

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