One Quick Way to Frustrate Customers and Friends

My husband is on a mailing list for information about upcoming stamp shows. This week he got an email announcement and saw his email address in a clump of at least a hundred others. All were there in a long list, a gold mine for people wanting to sell stamps.

The next email he was copied on read something like this: 

Take me off your mailing list since you can't protect my privacy. 

You know what went wrong: The sender put the entire mailing list on the CC line rather than BCC. Everyone could see all the addresses–and use them.

And one of those recipients had had enough–they wanted to get off the list and used Reply All to express their frustration. That's one potential customer gone, and others alerted to the situation. 


I get caught in similar email (ab)use situations every week in social communications. I'll get an invitation to a volunteer meeting, with my name on the CC line. Then I'll get Reply All email copies from a dozen people saying they will come to the meeting, with another few saying they can't attend and the reason.

I'll get copies of people's "See you there!" and "Looking forward to it" and "Me too."

I'll get copies that say "Thank you!" and "Feel better!" 

It's not that I don't care about other people. It's that I can't care from my bursting email inbox. 


If you are thinking that sometimes it's helpful to see everyone's replies, I agree with you. But those times are rare. If you have a burning example, please share it in the comments.

If you feel that recipients need to know who received the message, describe the group in the email. For example, begin with "To All Social Media Volunteers" or "Dear Committee Members." You can also have a sentence do the job: "I'm sending this message to everyone who has signed up for the management retreat." 


If you want to frustrate customers, friends, and others, put their names and email addresses on the CC line with a huge collection of other ones.  Share their contact information, and force them to receive unnecessary replies from strangers and acquaintances.

If you care about your customers, friends, and others, put their names and email addresses on the BCC line for a group message in which they don't need to reply to one another. Protect their privacy.

Remember: Email is not Facebook. We often don't want to see (receive) other people's comments. 

What's your view? Please share your experiences. 

Syntax Training 


  1. Dear Lynn,

    So true!

    For businesses or people conducting messages for foundations or such, there is also the option to use a mailservice program.
    This website/blog has made a handy list:

    I do volunteer work for a small foundation and we use Mailchimp. It is not very hard to learn and gives lots of options to get creative with. It is free for under 2000 subscribers.

    (If I made any mistakes please educate me 🙂 )

    Love your posts, Lynn.

    With regards,


  2. Hi Yvonne,

    Thank you for mentioning the email marketing programs and providing the link. Those services could be a great solution for writing to groups of customers.

    We also need to work on the way we think about the communication and ask, “Do all these individuals want/need to see one another’s contact information and replies?” Usually the answer is no.

    Thanks for your thoughtful words, Yvonne.


  3. Dear Lynn,
    I agree with you. Most of the people who are working with me do the same mistake and I receive a bunch of unnecessary replies from others. Thank you very much for highlighting this issue, a lot of friends of mine usually read you because I have introduced you to them.
    Bandula R


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