When you keep getting mail addressed to someone you don't know, you might feel annoyed, inquisitive, or even suspicious.
Or you might e-mail the company sending it and wonder whether it's intended for some future resident of your home.
Andrew Gardner took the latter route with quite beautiful results.
The Toronto resident e-mailed Shoppers Drug Mart and asked to be removed from its mailing list because, well, he clearly isn't "Matthew."
As the Globe and Mail reports, Gardner wondered whether "Matthew is a future resident of this address, and seemingly against the laws of causation, your computer system has this information, and prematurely mailed an advertisement to him before he's actually lived here."
He continued: "If it turns out the course of history is indeed pliable, not fixed, then we can maybe avoid future disasters and get a real taste of utopia in a mere matter of years. This would, all in all, be very favorable press for the Shoppers Drug Mart brand, and would definitely allow citizens like me to overlook the fact that the word 'drug' is in your name."
You might imagine that some customer service representatives would have replied to these colorful imaginings with a beige form e-mail.
But not every customer service representative is Mark Oliver.
So he replied:
Thank you for writing us. We apologize if you have been receiving mail from Shoppers Drug Mart that was addressed to another customer. Unfortunately, we cannot comment on any research projects that we may currently be conducting. However, we would appreciate it if you could provide us with some additional information that would help us determine when the mailer you received was sent. Could you please let us know if it contained any of the following advertisements?
1) Now at Shoppers Drug Mart: Everexis
Cure any disease instantly with Everexis! Great for headaches, colds, cancer and more! With no known side effects, nothing can possibly go wrong!
2) 20X The Points on Meat Products
Got the Everexis munchies? Fill your strange and unspeakable hunger and get 20X The Points!
3) 20% Off Everexis Antidote
Everexis left you slow, lumbering, and quick to anger? Take the Everexis antidote. It hasn't been fully tested, but it certainly can't make things any worse!
4) Hide in a Shoppers Drug Mart Refugee Shelter
With over 1,200 locations still standing across Canada, Shoppers Drug Mart is the ideal place to hold up and hide from the hoard. Ration Nativa Cheese Puffs and Life Brand Vitamins while you wait for rescue! Blood samples will be required for admittance.
5) Wheat, Glorious Wheat
Exclusively at Shoppers Drug Mart! Rebuild society with wheat, a traditional nonsynthetic foodstuff from the before-times. Act fast, as quantities are extremely limited.
A thing of beauty, you'll hopefully agree. A brilliant view of a miserable future, one that feels all too real.
It was a response that left his customer to simply offer only a smiley emoticon in reply. (Before being interviewed by a mountain of media, that is.)
Gardner told the Star that it read "like customer service speak. I actually closed it and put it aside. I looked it again and I said, 'Oh my god, this is hilarious'."
Oliver said on his blog that he'd created witty responses before, "but this was the first time I ever decided to hit 'send'."
At first, Shoppers Drug Mart seemed unsure who'd actually sent it. Oliver finally came forward. He wrote on his blog: "I might as well get some self-promotion. This is, after all, the closest thing I'll have to a celebrity sex tape."
Thankfully, his employer appreciated his sci-fi sensibilities.
Shoppers spokeswoman Tammy Smithman told the Star: "While [Oliver's] response may not have appealed to everyone, we are glad that Andrew took it in the same lighthearted way in which it was crafted. At the end of the day, Andrew is a more satisfied customer (which makes us happy)."
Good publicity always makes companies happy.
However, so should initiative and the understanding of one customer's individual sensibilities.
If only so many other customer service reps would appreciate their customers' concerns and the tone in which they are being expressed.
Sadly, in this already dystopic present too many customer service staff can only offer this: "To pay your bill, press 1. To schedule an appointment, press 2. To tell us what you really think, press 911 and throw your phone as hard as you can against a wall. We won't care."