The Best (and Worst?) Autoresponders of 2007

89 Comments


Reflecting or deleting e-mail can be an art form. (Photo: marinegirl)

An increasingly popular approach for escaping the inbox is the routine use of e-mail autoresponders.

Love it or hate it, reflecting or deleting e-mail can be an art form.

I’ve collected some of my favorite autoresponders of 2007 from Gmail and included them below.

The styles range from polite and hat-in-hand to direct and full-frontal, and include examples from both employees and business owners… Names have been changed.

Have a good (or amusing) autoresponder to share, whether real or made-up? Drop it in the comments and give someone a helping hand or a good laugh :)

The Standard:

SUBJECT: I Received Your Email

Dear Friends, Clients and Colleagues,

Due to high workload, I check email twice daily at 9:00 AM and 2:00 PM EST Monday-Thursday. I respond to urgent email at those times and endeavor to respond to all other email once a week, on Sundays at 6:00 AM EST.

If you require urgent assistance (please ensure that it is urgent) that cannot wait until either 9:00 AM or 2:00 PM, please contact me via phone at 555.666.4416.

Thank you for understanding this move to more efficiency and effectiveness. It helps me accomplish more to serve you better.

Sincerely,
Joe Louis

Polite and Boss-Friendly:

SUBJECT: Please call if it can’t wait until 11am or 4pm

Hi all…

In an effort to increase productivity and efficiency I am beginning a new personal email policy. I’ve recently realized I spend more time shuffling through my inbox and less time focused on the task at hand. It has become an unnecessary distraction that ultimately creates longer lead times on my ever-growing ‘to do’ list.

Going forward I will only be checking/responding to email at 11a and 4p on weekdays. I will try and respond to email in a timely manner without neglecting the needs of our clients and brand identity.

If you need an immediate time-sensitive response… please don’t hesitate to call me. Phones are more fun anyways.

Hopefully this new approach to email management will result in shorter lead times with more focused & creative work on my part. Cheers & here’s to life outside of my inbox!

All the best,

John “The Employee” Doe

Short and Sweet:

SUBJECT: Off of E-Mail — Call if Urgent

Thank you for your email! Due to my current workload, I am only checking email at 11am and 4pm. If you need anything immediately, please call me on my cell so that I can address this important matter with you. Thank you and have a great day!

-Tom Brady

Take No Prisoners:

Subject: I’m sorry but your e-mail has been deleted

Hi, it’s Simon Cowell.

I’m on a project until February 4 — your message has been deleted and will not be seen.

Please re-send after the 4th. Or if something is urgent, please contact helpme@hairychest.com.

All the best,

Simon

Take No Prisoners with a Smile:

SUBJECT: I’ll be back August 14th…

Hey, it’s Jimmy here…

I’m traveling on vacation and will return on Tuesday, Aug. 14th.

[website or Google calendar URL] < --- That's my schedule

All email I receive until that time will be automatically deleted, so if you have a dire emergency, contact my Executive Assistant, Jack-o-lantern at (555) 444-2525.

That way I'm not overwhelmed with playing "catch-up" and I can hit the ground running and give you the immediate attention you deserve when I get back.

Fair enough?

I appreciate your courtesy in advance and look forward to our paths crossing again after Aug. 14th.

All good wishes,

Jimmy Liu

###

The Universal Language of "No, I Didn't Get Your E-Mail":

SUBJECT: Penelope checks email twice a day/mira el correo 2 veces al día

Dear customers and colleagues,

Due to high workload, I am currently responding to email twice daily at 11:00 am and 4:30 pm CET.

If you require urgent assistance or response (please ensure it is urgent) that can not wait, please contact via phone at +22-555559878.

Thank you for understanding this move to more efficiency, effectiveness and focus. It helps me accomplish more to serve you better.

Have the greatest day,

Penelope Cruz
------------

Estimados clientes y colegas:

Debido al gran volumen de trabajo que tengo actualmente estoy contestando al correo dos veces al día a las 11 de la mañana y 4:30 de la tarde (hora Madrid).

Si necesitas hablar conmigo con urgencia (por favor valora si es de verdad urgente), no dudes en llamarme al móvil al +22-555559878.

Mi intención es ser más eficaz, concentrarme de verdad y sacar más adelante para atenderte mejor.

Ten un día estupendo,

Penelope Cruz

###

Nothing But The Facts:

SUBJECT: I'm busy

Hello There,

I don't chek e-male much. To much reading. Bye.

GW

###

Related and Popular Posts:

The Not-To-Do List: 9 Habits to Stop Now

The Art of Letting Bad Things Happen (and Weapons of Mass Distraction)
Chapter 6 – The Low-Information Diet: Cultivating Selective Ignorance
How to Outsource the Inbox and Never Check Email Again

Posted on: February 21, 2008.

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Comment Rules: Remember what Fonzie was like? Cool. That’s how we’re gonna be — cool. Critical is fine, but if you’re rude, we’ll delete your stuff. Please do not put your URL in the comment text and please use your PERSONAL name or initials and not your business name, as the latter comes off like spam. Have fun and thanks for adding to the conversation! (Thanks to Brian Oberkirch for the inspiration)

89 comments on “The Best (and Worst?) Autoresponders of 2007

  1. Hi Tim,

    I’m usually understanding when I get an autoresponse, but they could be a lot more fun! I would love to get this one;)

    “Hi there, I guess you’ve also read The Four Hour Work Week and that’s why me checking my e-mail only at 11 and 4 won’t piss you off. Have a nice one!”

    Like

  2. I’ve also seen groups within companies — even divisions — set an e-mail checking schedule to avoid any endless loops with autoresponders. That can cut 40-60% of internally-generated e-mail alone.

    BTW, I know WordPress is acting up with the formatting on the blog (bold vs. unbolded, etc.). WTF?

    Tim

    Like

  3. HaHa,

    Is that really the autoresponder from Penelope Cruz? Just curious…. You going to the Oscar’s???? Can this be true, i guess you find your way into it all : )

    Cheers

    Jose

    Like

  4. I use this one when I’m out of the office. This puts the responsibility on the sender to RE-send anything important after I return. This gives me an excuse to delete everything after a very brief check for anything from anyone I care about, and then a quick delete.
    “““““““““““““““““““`
    I am out of the office until Wednesday, January 2nd. I will not have any access to email or voicemail during this time.

    Your email is important to me, so if it requires my attention, please resend your email to me on January 2nd. Otherwise, it may take me many days to sort through all of the email I receive and I don’t want to delay an important response to you when I return.

    Thanks

    Like

  5. [This is a non-personal computer generated response]

    I have programed this response to cater to your needs in my absence.

    Your computer generated response is:
    Thank you for your inquiry. I will respond to all emails at 5:00pm EST Monday – Friday.

    Cheers,
    Me

    Like

  6. Love the auto-responders. Fortunately, I do not get work-related email!

    Are you seriously trying to find a shirt? I work at a retailer in downtown SF, and would be happy to find you one. However, is your neck still 18″?

    – J

    Like

  7. As a programmer and Project Manager, I found that I’m much more productive by tweeking your mantra. I do check my email right when I get in. I put out fires and re-arrange my day if necessary to accommodate. Then I check email one more time at 2:00. Enough time to get my high priority stuff out of the way and still solve any problems before I leave.

    However, I categorize my emails as they arrive via rules. I have separate folders for “urgent or high priority” messages, then folders for people and projects depending on who the sender is. Then the infamous “Other” which rarely if ever gets checked.

    In the morning, I only check the high priority folder. In the afternoon, I usually only check the ones dealing with my current project.

    Also, I’ve found that the phone is abused even though my auto response requests high priority or emergency calls only.

    Like

  8. Hi,

    Thanks for spending the time to email me, unfortunately, I am no longer checking email ever again.

    If you are desperate you can reach me at 248-262-6861 [NOTE: the rejection hot-line number. Obviously not included in the email]

    Thank you, and I hope to hear from you soon.

    Best of luck,

    Jeremy

    Like

  9. Hm, did anyone think about the frustration on the recipient’s end after receiving one reply for every message he’s gonna send you?

    For example I may have three or four messages from a coworker per day for various activities we’re involved in (not messages requiring urgent input from my side)

    Imagine his frustration receiving four automated responses from me. Isn’t this a deal-breaker?

    ###

    Hi Stelios,

    In most programs you can set the autoresponder to be sent no more than once per week, or once to each contact. Agreed that repeated bouncebacks can be annoying. They do make the point, though, if I had to find at bright side.

    Tim

    Like

  10. I don’t mind getting an autoresponder so long as it isn’t just an easy way for that person to say “piss off”!!

    I got this one recently from a (busy) recording engineer and it made my day:

    “Dear email sender
    Thanks for the email. I appreciate it. I’m pretty much too busy to actually respond or actually read it let alone work out how to format this in a way that looks personal. You weren’t ever going to be fooled, were you? Really?
    Try calling instead. If I don’t answer, you get the picture: I’m busy.

    Thanks

    xyz

    Cell: 1234567890 ”

    I can’t bring myself to use it, but I really thought about it!

    Great post.

    Like

  11. Tim,

    I run into this problem all the time on my blog. Check that you haven’t forgotten to close a bold tag in the HTML of the post… Just look at where the bold starts and where the missing tag is. =)

    About the post:

    Nothing is more annoying and screams, “unprofessional” than getting one of these auto responders now. Whenever I get one, I immediately think… Great. Here’s another person trying to be ultra-productive by implementing the easiest thing in Tim Ferriss’s book.

    Here’s a suggestion: Don’t have an autoresponder. Just respond at the time you check your email. Eg. 11am and 4pm. It’s more convenient for everyone. If someone kicks up a storm with 4 emails in a row, you can then give the explanation, although that’s never happened to me.

    Plus: It clogs up my email box with useless “Thanks for your email” subject lines. Argh.

    Donovan

    Like

  12. @ Donovan and Shaolin

    Hi Guys,

    For HTML, here’s what is happening and driving me nuts:

    the tags are fine, then when I save or publish — poof! — the closing tag disappears and all the text below that point becomes bold. It’s quite a glitch and I’d never seen it before today.

    Any ideas?

    Tim

    Like

  13. This is an ‘autoresponder’ message (well, not quite ‘auto’, but it sits in my Eudora Stationery) and is for discretionary use only. I’ve had occasion to use it 3 times in the last year, whenever someone really wastes my time with back and forth email arguments.

    Thought your readers may get a laugh out of it:

    = = = = MESSAGE BEGINS = = = = =

    SUBJECT: You’ve Reached Dr.Mani’s “ANTI-ANNOYER” Autoresponder

    Hi, thanks for your email.

    It will NOT be read :-)

    You’ve been directed to this autoresponder because your earlier
    emails have been considered to be one of the following:

    – time wasters
    – annoyers
    – hindrances to Dr.M’s creativity and productivity

    As such, he has no desire to enter into an unproductive exchange
    of email messages with you on this topic.

    If you enjoy talking to a computer, please continue to correspond
    on this topic. Each time, you will receive an identical replica
    of this very email message.

    Over time you’ll collect 100 of them.

    But that does NOT entitle you to a gift, zero cost vacation or
    any other form of compensation or prize.

    What you will get, though, is the satisfaction of being recognized
    as someone who doesn’t give up, one who never-says-die, one whose
    persistence will overcome mountains.

    As such, Dr.Mani wishes you the very best in your life.

    Best regards

    Dr.Mani’s Computer

    = = = = MESSAGE ends = = = = =

    Like

  14. tim,
    how do you have so much time to write this blog. i am full time blogger and i don’t publish as many blog posts a you do. you amaze me. tell me how?

    and then you even reply to comments.

    ###

    I have a very clean and streamlined workflow for processing everything, and I write a lot in journals. Generally, coming up with a post is just having something I’ve taken notes on transcribed. I also save interesting incoming e-mail as “BLOG MATERIAL” if I think they might serve, like in the case of this post.

    I’ll be doing a “Behind the Blog” post soon, and I’ll probably copy and paste this exchange :)

    Tim

    Like

  15. Oops, the tags didn’t get escaped. This part of the template looks suspect:

    Error Line 157, Column 40: end tag for “strong” omitted, but OMITTAG NO was specified.

    <p><strong>Related and Popular Posts:</p>

    Like

  16. Am I the only one who thinks receiving an «urgent» phone call is much more distracting than an email?

    I’m actually doing the exact opposite: my voice mail invites people to take the time to write me an email if they want to reach me quickly. Most people call because they are too lazy to write. Emails are easy to scan trough than listening to long or pointless phone messages (“Call me when you can I have something to ask you bye”).

    When I receive a phone call when I’m away from my computer, I don’t have the data to answer most of the time anyways. My cell number is offered on a strict need to know basis for life-or-death situations.

    Have a wonderful day everybody!

    Like

    • I find the use of Youmail.com, a transcription service for vmail helps a lot. I have not checked a vmail in months as everyone is immediately texted and emailed to me. Transcription is pretty good. Very useful technology in a lot of ways. Ferries writes about it in 4hww if memory serves.

      Like

  17. I rather like the bold, keep it.

    @ Donovan: I agree, I don’t find that people get upset when I respond twice daily. They usually don’t notice and I like not drawing attention to the fact with an auto-responder. I think that the auto responder is really to make the email recipient feel better about limiting email usage and train them to stick to their schedule.

    On another topic… also try ditching your blackberry or treo. If you are really checking email twice a day, arrange to be in front of a computer. I deleted the ability for me to check email from my treo two weeks ago. It has significantly reduced my stress level and improve my social life. I’m also no longer driving and checking email like a jackass.

    Like