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Was This B&Q Email Written By A 1980s Robot?

16th May, 2019

Was This B&Q Email Written By A 1980s Robot?

This email is a shocker.


Well not this email exactly, I mean the one below from DIY superstore, B&Q.


In response to the question ‘When will my shed be delivered?’ (we’re getting a modest garden shed which I fear is only paving the way for my husband’s dream man cave complete with beer fridge and La-Z-boy recliner), I was sent this:

It’s a classic, right?


Now, there are clearly a bunch of issues with B&Q’s customer services procedure, (we’re still waiting for their call) but I’m just going to concentrate on the writing. The terrible, terrible writing.


Here are my top 5 eye-twitching, teeth-clenching bugbears about this email:


1. It sounds like it’s been written by a robot from the 1980s who’s trying to impress his robot boss

The tone of voice is way too stiff and formal. Whilst trying to sound professional, it ends up coming across as cold and robotic. Customer service emails need to sound warm, empathetic and human (especially if you’re answering a complaint).


2. It uses the passive voice. Twice.

The passive voice has its place, but not here. It makes the sentences sound clunky, vague and awkward: ‘Contact will be arranged’ and ‘Your complaint has been logged’. No surprise then that we’re sounding like a robot. ‘We’ll call you’ and ‘We’ve received your complaint/question/torrent of abuse’ would be more friendly and specific.


3. It uses words we’d never say

‘We will endeavour to deal with…’ Who says endeavor in 2019? We might ‘endeavour’ to defeat our foe if we’re looking to rally troops in the Second World War, but these days ‘try’ is a much better option. And even better, ditch it completely and say ‘We’ll get back to you as soon as possible.’ Likewise, ‘resolve’ could easily be just ‘fix’.


4. It starts and ends badly

‘Good evening’ feels very formal, like it should be followed by ‘Ma’am’ and a butler carrying a pot of Earl Grey. Likewise, ‘Kind regards’ tips over into overly stiff for this scenario. ‘Hi’ or ‘Hello’ and ‘Many thanks’ would be my preferences.


5. It’s wishy-washy

How will they contact me? By phone, email or in a dream? Give me concrete details.


So how would I rewrite this? Well, it would be something like this:


Hi Kim

Thanks for your question. We’re looking into it right away.

We’ll call you on 10th May with the information you need.

Many thanks



Simple, friendly and human. No robots in sight.


Now, where’s that Customer Services, I mean Vendor Support, number? Sigh.

University of Cambridge


- Next trainer development cohort 10th - 14th June 2024

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