I was once told that the biggest problem stupid people have is that they don't know their stupid and in fact think they are smarter than everyone else. I couldn't help but think about that after reading this over on Doug Meacham's blog...
Amy Jussel is a blogger focusing on media & marketing’s influence on kids. She sent a letter to Target’s Corp Communication dept regarding a billboard in Times Square that some people have found offensive. The good news is that target responded. The bad news is that this is what they said:
Good Morning Amy, Thank you for contacting Target; unfortunately we are unable to respond to your inquiry because Target does not participate with non-traditional media outlets. This practice is in place to allow us to focus on publications that reach our core guest. Once again thank you for your interest, and have a nice day.
A little lesson in life: Never think you can get away with saying something rude to a person by couching it in language you don't think they'll understand. The Target representative is clearly saying "we don't think you are good enough to pay attention to" and seemingly thought they could get away with it by presenting it in corporate terms (assuming the person on the other end wouldn't be smart enough to decode what they were actually saying)
Now some might say that the Target rep. had no choice because of the corporate policy in place but that doesn't hold water with me. If it were me, here's what I would have said...
We got your e-mail and always appreciate feedback from our customers. Unfortunately our corporate communication policy hasn't quite caught up with the times and doesn't have a mechanism to deal with new media such as blogging just yet. So I can't give you a comment on the billboard you asked about. I apologize for this and will be sure to pass your e-mail along to my supervisor so that hopefully we can get this policy changed real soon. Again, I apologize for not being able to do more and I hope you will continue to give us your business despite this oversight on the part of our communications department.
The above accomplishes the same thing as the actual e-mail did but does so in a way that doesn't offend the customer and instead allows them to walk away knowing they are ahead of the curve as far as Target is concerned. Beyond that it shows actual respect for the customer as opposed to the feigned respect in the above e-mail.