The bold text on your email inbox tells you that you have an unread email. You recognise who it’s from as it’s one of your close friends in the office. Despite the fact that the email in question contains important information about the department meeting that’s taking place in the morning, you decide to have a bit of fun and give your colleague a silly response because that’s how you roll.
The problem for you is, the ‘witty’ response you gave that includes no less than four disparaging comments about the boss, the boss’s wife, the company, the company’s largest spending customer and also details how many drugs you plan on taking at the next music festival you go to – unfortunately got sent to over 500 addresses on the email list.
Yes, that’s right – you replied to all.
Office workers have been getting caught out by the dreaded group email forward ever since UX designers decided it would be a good idea to place the ‘reply’ and ‘reply to all’ buttons in close proximity to each other.
Take a minute with us to enjoy some of the most cringeworthy reply to all fails that have ever been witnessed in office life:
1. Any Pork in a Storm
Two of the partners at my old firm were having a not-very-discreet affair (both were married to other people). Partner A was in charge of the summer associate program and sent an email around the firm with information on that summer’s names, schools, etc. — who would be mentors for who and dates of events.
Partner B replied all to a 500+ person law firm, attorneys, paralegals, secretaries, everybody, the words, “I’m going to pork you so hard later.”
It was hilarious for several reasons, but mainly his ultra-seductive use of the word “pork.”
2. Hair Today Gone Tomorrow
I was a temp in a very large law firm for a bit. One day a new lawyer was hired and HR sent out the standard email to everyone introducing the new guy and congratulating him on his new position.
New guy subsequently replies all and asks the HR person if his benefits package includes a hair transplant procedure.
3. The Doh! Nut
I heard about someone where I worked that meant to send out an email to the whole department (a couple dozen people) to let them know that for their birthday they had brought in doughnuts for everyone. People do this all the time. This guy however, selected the email list for the whole company instead of the department. They were getting replies from employees in other countries saying things like “Well I don’t know you and I can’t travel there just for doughnuts… But happy birthday!”
4. Laying Down the Law
I used to work at a law firm and one day an email went out to everyone (about 40 people) that was about a specific case and had very little relevance to my job position so I ignored it. A few minutes later I got another email from a different attorney with a snarky response. Well, an argument started between these two attorneys (still replying all to the office) and after about 6 or so emails a third attorney wrote, “yeah well my dad can beat up your dad. By the way you have been sending this to the whole office.”
5. Telling Tall Tales
About 12 years ago I worked in a small office and a co-worker was telling a boring story to anybody that would listen. My boss went to e-mail me to complain (I was his sounding board), but accidentally replied all to a company-wide email.
His message that was sent to the entire company said: “I wish Donna would have emailed me this story so I could delete it.”
She saw the email a few minutes later, threw her keyboard up in the air, grabbed her purse and ran out of the office. My boss had to profusely apologize the next day.
6. Private Messaging
I was working in a military office during the Iraq war and I got an email from some random private. “Yall motherfuckers need to shut the hell up!” – it said. Puzzled by such a blatant attack, I checked who this guy was and who he sent it to. It turns out he sent it to everyone in every command in Iraq, Afghanistan and a few other places. Some say that this private is still doing push-ups to this day.
7. For Pete’s Sake
We had this guy from the main office, Pete, who comes up from time to time. He’s an arrogant asshole. I decided that I couldn’t stand the smug prick within literally 30 seconds of meeting him. Anyway, we had had quite a bit of turnover in our department since Pete’s last visit, so our boss wanted to schedule a lunch so he could meet everyone. His admin sent out a mass email to see who might be interested in lunch on Thursday. I replied back that I wouldn’t be coming because I had a conflict and then I added, “Plus, Pete’s kind of a fuckwad.” I hadn’t realized that I had hit, “Reply All,” until I heard the scattered laughter all over our floor. Our boss came over, invited me into a conference room, and said, “I’d appreciate it if in the future you’d let everyone decide on their own whether or not Pete is a fuckwad.”
Thankfully, Pete wasn’t on the email.
8. Sherlock Holmes and Watson
Working in the claims department of a huge insurance company, a claim handler once sent out very personal customer information to the ENTIRE company – every single employee including the CEO, security staff, building staff and even the cleaning staff. Now that’s bad enough, but we also have this other guy who decided to reply-all to that email, asking the other guy why he sent him this message – blissfully unaware that the first guy sent it to everyone in the company.
So now the first guy responds, still unaware of what happened, telling the second guy he has no idea how that email went to him.
This email thread goes back and forth, as the two geniuses attempted to investigate WTF happened for like, 10 replies. They finally decided it was a computer glitch.
I honestly don’t know how they still have jobs. I’d have fired them just for not knowing how reply-all worked.
9. Just Following Orders….
A former admin at my old job received an email from my boss with an attachment and the note “send this (attachment) to that stupid f*cking idiot (client).” She forwarded the email straight to the client. That’s why she was the former admin. To be fair, he (the boss) was a terrible dick, but still……’
10. A Very Shirty Ending
Several years ago I worked as an assistant in the marketing department of a large company. We were getting ready to go to a convention and were waiting on an order of shirts with our company logo on them that we were supposed to wear at the event. Everyone had been asking me about them all day long, so when the box of shirts finally came in, I sent an email to everyone stating in great big capital letters: I’VE GOT THE SHIRTS!!! Except I forgot the letter “R”.