Congratulatory emails are a part and parcel of running an online business, particularly one that relies on people celebrating major life events with print-to-order cards.
However, the online card and photo printer Shutterfly learned Wednesday that if you send one of those mass emails, you’d better be sure the recipients have experienced the life event for which you’re lauding them.
Shutterfly sent an email Wednesday morning congratulating a huge number of customers on their new babies. Specifically, the email read:
There’s nothing more amazing than bringing a new life into the world. As a new parent you’re going to find more to love, more to give and more to share—we’re here to help you every step of the way.
Now it’s time to send thank you cards. Find one that matches your birth announcement.
Quite a few of the people who got that email had not recently given birth. Worse yet, many have dealt with the pain of having a miscarriage, a child’s death, or infertility.
“I lost a baby in November who would have been due this week,” wrote one commenter on Shutterfly’s Facebook page. “It was like hitting a wall all over again.”
The company’s latest Facebook post, which is about giving a photo book as a Father’s Day gift, is loaded with comments about the mistaken email. Likewise, the company got an earful on Twitter.
Hey @shutterfly, maybe don’t send mass “congrats on your new baby” emails? Those of us dealing w infertility JUST made it thru Mother’s Day.
— Christina Rothenbeck (@C_A_Rothenbeck) May 14, 2014
— Katherine Heidelberg (@KatStax524) May 14, 2014
Shutterfly issued a Twitter apology:
This morning, an email was sent unintentionally to some customers. We deeply apologize for any offense this may have caused.
— Shutterfly (@Shutterfly) May 14, 2014
But then, another email went out to even more customers Wednesday afternoon.
Finally, in the wee hours of Thursday morning, Shutterfly sent out this apology email signed by Chief Marketing Officer John Boris.
— Malinda Ann Hill (@MalindaAnnHill) May 15, 2014
“We’re truly sorry if you received this email in error,” the message reads. “We realize this is a very sensitive issue and did not mean to upset you in any way.”
The sentiment seemed to soothe some of the email’s recipients, such as the Twitter user above, but what about the people who received the email, and really were new parents?
— Maggie Herrick (@Mugsylee) May 15, 2014