Sometimes, I'm forced to ask myself serious questions. It's not something I particularly enjoy, but I often find it cannot be avoided. Recently, I had to ask a question that, if you're over 30, may also have occurred to you: "Am I just getting old, or is the casual nature of electronic conversation reaching a level that simply spits in the face of common decency?"
Even if you've never considered it in quite those terms, you know what I'm talking about. And if not, here's an example of an email exchange I had with a representative at a large financial institution. It's verbatim.
ME: Hi there. I talked briefly with [teller name] last week when depositing a check into my business account, and she mentioned that my business could upgrade to an account that would not charge a monthly service fee. Is there a minimum balance we would need to maintain? Please let me know. Thanks!
This, I feel, was an appropriately crafted query with one basic question.
REP: Hi I just get your email let me know when you wan come and set down whit me so we can see what options we have for u
I'd just like to point out that this was an official employee of the bank, and not some teenager who wandered in off the street and mistakenly assumed she was tweeting. This person was, for all intents and purposes, the face of the company, which presumably wanted to entice me to put even more of my hard-earned money into its hands.
ME: I don't have a lot of time during work hours, but I could do 15-20 minutes on Friday if you're available.
REP: What time so I can ready for u
What I should have done at this point was call "game over" after the refusal to spell out three-letter words or to use punctuation of any kind. But I gave her one more shot, partly because I kind of wanted to meet her face-to-face out of sheer curiosity.
ME: How about 11:00?
REP: Hi can you meet me at 12:00pm I have
And that was the end of the message. No joke. Strike three. I resigned myself to the fact that I would never know exactly what her problem was. Instead, I shot a message to the online customer rep and had my issue resolved within 24 hours. Two emails, complete with real sentences!
To the rep, I sent one final reply, in which I delicately explained that I would not be meeting with her, largely due to the confusing and incomplete nature of her communication and suggesting that she strive to be more professional in the future. I wasn't mean, but I think some constructive feedback was needed. The next person might not be so accommodating.
Then again, the next person might have been a teenager who wandered in out of the Twitterverse and was delighted by the refreshingly down-to-earth "communication." If you can call it that.