Online photo retailer Shutterfly fell prey to a common and age-old faux pas, congratulating users on a new baby — and, it appears, all users received the errant message.
While Shutterfly is immune to in-person pregnancy question gaffes, a big email promo mistake this morning has caused a massive social media outcry, given the sensitive nature of pregnancy, childbirth, and new babies.
It’s not uncommon for retailers to “out” pregnant shoppers through targeted promotions and coupons. Famously, a pregnant teenager was accidentally exposed by Target after her father complained about creepily targeted marketing — which turned out to be both accurate and horrifying.
As Shutterfly users may be discovering as we speak, there’s probably no bigger major secret routinely kept by humans than reproductive ones. And when you count for work emails, shared accounts, and other forms of information insecurity, you can see how a flub like this is one that may cause tension.
However, the main issue with Shutterfly’s email mistake appears to be offense and sorrow prompted by the mass email congratulating a wide swath of users on a new baby.
As it turns out, Shutterfly has a large base of users… many of whom have suffered from loss. Email list subscribers who have endured a miscarriage, a stillbirth, or chronic infertility have all reported being upset by the sudden, irrelevant congratulatory email — many of which were likely received at a time where reminders are triggering or even sadder. (Such as an anniversary.)
Over on Twitter, many voiced their upset at receiving the unwelcome email from Shutterfly:
— Rissa (@MKSReeder) May 14, 2014
Seriously. @Shutterfly just ruined my day. Thanks for the reminder that I have no baby!
— Devan Gaddie (@dpgaddie) May 14, 2014
@Shutterfly As someone who is unable to have kids your spam congratulating me “on my new arrival” was highly offensive.
— Alwaze Watching (@favelicious) May 14, 2014
Not everyone was upset by the flap, however:
Congrats to all of those impregnated by @Shutterfly this morning.
— Chris Tuttle (@ChrisTuttle) May 14, 2014
And not everyone was sympathetic to users who had suffered loss and felt saddened anew by the reminder:
— Steven Russolillo (@srussolillo) May 14, 2014
Some even urged users to be understanding of the position in which Shutterfly found itself:
“I think a little grace is in order. EVERYONE, including companies makes mistakes. Forgive as you would like to be forgiven. If you’d like grace; give it.”
This morning, an email was sent unintentionally to some customers. We deeply apologize for any offense this may have caused.
— Shutterfly (@Shutterfly) May 14, 2014
In the tweet above, Shutterfly apologizes for the erroneous new baby email — but many users describe being “ripped apart” by the mistake.
[Image: Shutterfly email]