|Category:||communication||Date of Incident:||2003.08.31|
|Company:||CCBN||Item or Service:||e-mail services|
"CCBN (Corporate Communications Broadcast Network) is a leading provider of Web-based solutions for the investment community, offering services that transform the way companies communicate and meet disclosure requirements while assisting investors in managing and leveraging this information." (From CCBN's corporate fact sheet)
CCBN offers e-mail reminders for upcoming investment events of subscribing companies to the public. This is done as a background service, so one is hardly even aware of CCBN's presence. Typically, one visits the IR (investor relations) website for a company of interest. One of the standard offerings is to sign up for automatic notification for events, earnings releases, and so forth. Many companies, rather than reinventing the wheel, outsource their IR web functions to one of several firms like CCBN, just like many firms will outsource payroll or IT. So it is from CCBN and similar firms that one periodically receives notices in one's inbox like that shown. Notice, though, how the only web address belongs to the subscribing company, and the text refers to "our web site", giving the appearance that the company, not CCBN, is communicating with you, which is as it should be. But in case of error, to whom does one assign the burden of "getting it right"?
Date: Sun, 31 Aug 2003 20:45:38 -0400 From: email@example.com Subject: Reminder from Lexmark International, Inc.... As you requested, here is your reminder from Lexmark International, Inc. regarding our , which will take place 1-Jan-1900. Please do not reply to this email, as it was generated by an automated response service. For all other investor information, please visit our web site at: http://www.lexmark.com/
There are at least three errors with this notice.
Let's look at a couple more examples and see what else they reveal.
Date: Sun, 23 Nov 2003 20:45:25 -0500 From: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Reminder from Dell Inc.... As you requested, here is your reminder from Dell Inc. regarding our CFSB Annual Tech Conference with Kevin Rollins, Phoenix, AZ , which will take place 2-Dec-2003 through 2-Dec-2003. Please do not reply to this email, as it was generated by an automated response service. For all other investor information, please visit our web site at: http://www.dell.com/
CSFB. (That stands for Credit Suisse First Boston.)
2-Dec-2003 through 2-Dec-2003should be
2-Dec-2003. (While "x through x" is fine computerese, it is simply unprofessional.)
Date: Sun, 09 Nov 2003 20:46:15 -0500 From: email@example.com Subject: Reminder from Fairchild Semiconductor International, Inc.... As you requested, here is your reminder from Fairchild Semiconductor International, Inc. regarding our Other corporate event, which will take place 18-Nov-2003 through 18-Nov-2003. Please do not reply to this email, as it was generated by an automated response service. For all other investor information, please visit our web site at: http://www.fairchildsemi.com/
This one suffers from several of the same problems we saw above: a useless range, no time, no URL. You might think I'm being too picky about wanting a URL; after all, how much work could it be to go to the website given, then find the event? Well, I went to their website, found their event calendar, and found... nothing on November 18.
These e-mails were clearly done by programmers, and not reviewed by a human factors nor marketing. In fact, they were not even adequately reviewed (tested) by the programmers before being deployed (which rarely happens, as we all know :-). They just forgot to check, or didn't think it was worth the effort to check, if the start date and end date are both the same, or even if there's no date at all! So clearly they never tried to use what they developed with other than perfect data. Finally, computers generally do not get it "almost right". There's some hidden artifact introduced by a person in there somewhere, if the 19th event is the one being advertised as on the 18th.