A few days ago, Linda from Santa Clara, CA contacted us and let us know about a problem with our “ship confirmation” email. We try to have some fun with these emails, and made a side crack about Hamlet being bi-polar. Linda correctly pointed out that there’s a great deal of stigma around mental illness, and that it is a poor subject to make light of. Here’s a snippet from the original email (written to you, the customer, from your book):
I can’t wait to meet you! You sound like such a well read person. Although, I have to say, it sure has taken you a while! I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, but how would you like to spend five months sandwiched between Hamlet (bipolar) and Fundamentals of Thermodynamics (pyromaniac)? At least Hamlet was an upgrade from that stupid book on brewing beer. How many times did the ol’ brewmaster have one too many and topple off our shelf at 2am?
Here’s the revised version. As an owner of a flatulent canine, I can assure you that he’s not offended.
I can’t wait to meet you! You sound like such a well read person. Although, I have to say, it sure has taken you a while! I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, but how would you like to spend five months sandwiched between Walter the Farting Dog (oh, the stench) and Fundamentals of Thermodynamics (pyromaniac)? At least Walter was an upgrade from that stupid book on brewing beer. How many times did the ol’ brewmaster have one too many and topple off our shelf at 2am?
Linda’s original letter:
From: LindaCreated: 1/19/2009 3:53:17 PMTo: Better World BooksSubject: Mental illness – a poor subject to mockDear BetterWorld staff:While I am certain that your email below was intended in a humorous vein, I have to express my considerable disappointment in your making light of mental illness.I have bipolar disorder and am reasonably sure that my mother had it as well. She, unfortunately, was not properly diagnosed, and committed suicide in January of 1987.The following is taken from “emedicine® from WebMD: Bipolar Affective Disorder” and was written by Stephen Soreff, MD, President of Education Initiatives, Nottingham, NH; Faculty, Metropolitan College of Boston University, Boston, MA, and Lynne Alison McInnes, MD, Associate Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry and Genetics and Genomic Sciences, Department of Psychiatry and Human Genetics, Mount Sinai School of Medicine:Mortality/MorbidityBipolar disorder has significant morbidity and mortality rates. In the United States during the early part of the 1990s, the cost of lost productivity resulting from this bipolar disorder was estimated at approximately $15.5 billion annually. Approximately 25-50% of individuals with bipolar disorder attempt suicide, and 11% actually commit suicide.If I need to drive the point home further, perform this little test: line up a group of your friends or coworkers and have 1 in 4, or, worse yet, 1 in 2 step forward. In total, they represent the ratio of those who suffer from bipolar who will attempt suicide in their lifetimes.It serves as a painful illustration that bipolar is an inordinately poor choice of maladies of which to make jest.As much as I do love a good laugh, I would sincerely hope that you will revise your future shipping confirmations in such as way as to not belittle those who face the challenges of living with mental illness – not least of which is the stigma that mental illnesses are amusing – which they most certainly are not.In the past, I’d recommended your services highly to friends and colleagues. After receiving this email which perpetuates the stigma of mental illnesses, I regret having touted your services and philanthropic nature to people whose relationships I value.Should you choose to make a public apology to your customers for this error in judgment, I will continue to do business with you. Barring that, I will not only take my trade elsewhere, but will also notify my friends and colleagues of this less-than-amusing email and suggest that they also consider purchasing their books from other merchants.Sincerely,LindaSanta Clara, CA