Proverbs 29.11 says: “Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end.”
The following is the word-for-word email exchange I had with a Brooklyn art gallery who specializes in pop-art.
Earlier that morning, I received a promotional email, stating that they were having a “mystery tube” sale, where 5-7 pieces would be randomly put into a tube for the cost of 1 painting. It was a steal, and I was really excited to buy one. Since it was a timed release, first come first served, I made sure I was online at exactly the correct time, put one in my virtual shopping cart, got a text message confirmation number, hit the “finish transaction” button, but a screen came up that said, “Your cart is empty.” No purchase, no tube, nothing. I quickly emailed the gallery:
Wondering what happened. I had it in my cart, I got texts with an authorization code, and then it was gone when I completed my order.
A couple of minutes later, I got an answer.
Recommend not to use that option, uncheck the option in the last page of checkout for next time, it slows you down.
I was incensed. Not only did I not get it or any offers to help, he seemed to be blaming me. I returned with:
So, I lost the tube because I didn’t check out fast enough?!?!?
I figured that the excessive punctuation would properly display my emotional state. His response:
Yeah unfortunately, it’s a limited release.
Maybe it was the aloof “yeah” or the lack of any offer to help that did it, nevertheless I was enraged.
Why is there not a timed countdown to checkout out, like most other places, where you have a certain amount of time to complete the purchase? I’m calling bs on you guys. I logged in, had it in my cart, and didn’t get through the checkout page fast enough, apparently.
That’s a (lousy) way to treat us past customers who bother to have an account and have bought from you in the past.
I patiently waited for an answer. When three minutes went by, I emailed again:
I had the tube in my cart and someone stole it out of my cart. Do you realize the absurdity of that sentence? If we were in a physical store, that would not be allowed by any party present.
I would like this situation fixed before I post my Yelp review about what happened.
Ah, let the looming threat of negative social media press hang over them. I figured I had them cornered. Yet:
No one stole it out of your cart, our website is first come first serve on checkout, you weren’t quick enough and the item sold out before you were able to check out.
No need to threaten with a Yelp review, we aren’t a restaurant. If you were nicer to us, we would remedy a situation, doesn’t look like that’s the case.
Now he was getting sarcastic with me. Well then…I could give as good as I could get!
It was most definitely there. Semantics, I suppose.
I’ll be sure to include this information in the Yelp review. Despite your lack of faith in the Yelp system and social media, a reputation is everything, even in the art world. My statement was to give you a chance to fix this situation before I made it a public matter. I suppose you do not care for your reputation as much as I thought you did.
At let’s be honest here: you never had any interest in remedying the situation or you would have mentioned it sooner when I first emailed you.
Oh, and your timing couldn’t have been more perfect with this email. I just read our conversation aloud to my class of high school art students right here in New York. (There were two art students sitting next to me, but it sounded better written this way)
However, you’re not a restaurant. I’m sure it won’t sway their opinion of your gallery in the slightest.
After I wrote this email, I sat back with such an immense amount of satisfaction. I had him at every turn! I had won!…As long as he didn’t write back, which of course, he did:
You could’ve emailed nicely and asked, “is there any way you guys have an extra” or “if someone cancels, can I please purchase,” instead you went on to threaten us with a negative Yelp review, yet expect us to help and work with you on a remedy? That makes no sense, we rather help customers who are polite and acknowledging of the fact that they missed out on a mystery tube due to traffic and demand.
Have a good day, no need to order from us in the future.
The nerve! I’d show him. Then a new person (a manager, maybe?) emailed me with this comment:
This is what you discuss with your High School students? Can I leave a Yelp review with your superintendent as well?
Now that was personal! Argh! And then this from him, too:
I think going for this purchase during class time might be an issue when you should be teaching.
Don’t worry about future purchases. Added to the list.
Have a great new year!
Sarcastic and smug! How dare he! I wanted to throw my laptop. So, I sat down for the next 20 minutes and wrote a great, angry, biting review about how I was being treated, how this all went down, everything. I’d destroy them! I completely wrote the piece, sat back, and suddenly realized how stupid and meaningless this all was. I breathed, rethought, and wrote the following email back to them:
I just spent the last 20 minutes writing (what I thought was) a scathing Yelp review about your gallery. After finishing it, I took some time to get perspective.
While I wrote it, I was so angry and vindictive, as our situation went from an exciting opportunity to purchase some art into a pissing contest that ended up with personal derogatory remarks about me. (I don’t say this as a matter of resentment; I’m just point something out for the sake of this email. Bear with me.) I believe, and I think you would agree, that our emails got into the realm of who was going to have the last word, and with my review, I was determined that it would be me. However, I have deleted the piece and ended up not posting it.
A cycle of anger and vindictiveness was created that involved so much emotion, that by posting, I would just perpetuate that cycle. What’s the point, really? There’s enough hatred and anger in the world. I don’t need to create more or encourage you to feel more anger and hatred towards me. If I post, where would it end? You might feel the need to respond, then I would, etc. It’s all just not worth it. Why should we care so much about something that is so trivial? I believe that we are all better than that.
I’m not trying to sound better than anyone else or that I’m taking the high road. I just wanted to let you both know that there’s no need to continue. The truth is, I like your gallery, your artists, and your output. I’m just sad that I missed out on the opportunity.
You still get to have the last word and be right with your previous email if you want to. I don’t mind. If it makes you feel justified, that’s okay. You can even keep me on a “list” if you want. I just didn’t want to be the source of any more ill feelings in the universe and be the cause of anyone’s day to be marred, ruined, or darkened to any extent.
You can respond if you want, but don’t feel the need to.
I sincerely hope your day improves and that your gallery has a successful year.
After I wrote this email, I felt lighter, as if enormous weights had been lifted off me. I had gotten myself so caught up in this battle, that I lost sight of myself. I closed my computer and walked away feeling relieved. It was over.
So, it was a great surprise to receive this email a little later:
I appreciate the email. No harm no foul. All good.
I’ll send you an invoice for a mystery tube as we have an extra for you =)
Hope your day is better too!
I was shocked. I quickly wrote back:
Wow. I really wasn’t expecting that, nor did I intend for that to happen. I’m actually really moved.
That was very thoughtful of you. It’s a real testament to your character.
Thank you. Truly. And not just for the tube, but for making the world just a little bit better today. It needs it.
His final response? Only this: