8 Most Epic Abuses of Work Email Ever

As they say, never email anything you wouldn’t want on the front page of the newspapers. So if you’re considering using your work email to send military secrets, a character assassination or even an erotic proposition, then think again – the end result could cost you your job, as well as your dignity. These chumps learnt the hard way.

8. “I haven’t swallowed in years.”

"Yours was yum…"

"Yours was yum…"

When is a compliment not a compliment? Perhaps the following might qualify – back in 2000 Claire Swire, an employee of a large internet provider, found herself involved with a less than scrupulous lawyer. One day whilst at work he sent her a joke concerning male bodily fluid (yes, that kind). Claire immediately replied:

“I hadn’t swallowed in years but yours was yum and very good for me too! Apparently it’s a very good conditioner for your hair too…getting a funny picture in my head…”

Ego swollen, he impulsively forwarded the reply to all his friends to show off what a stallion he was in the sack. But compliment quickly turned to embarrassment when one of his friends replied stating he felt “honour bound” to forward it on further. Soon the couple became the laughing stock of the office and the internet, although in the end they both managed to escape with their jobs (just).

7. To whom it may (not) concern

Schoolgirls and military secrets don't mix.

Schoolgirls and military secrets don't mix.

Giving away what you like to get up to in the bedroom is one thing – but when it comes to emails that shouldn’t have ever been sent, national security is a whole different league. In 2000, schoolgirl Claire McDonald began receiving emails from the Pentagon containing top-secret military information. Her address had been accidentally added to a group list by a navy commander. Even Claire was laughing when, in a cruel twist of irony, one message offered advice on how to prevent secrets from being leaked on the internet. Why bother hacking when the Pentagon can do the work for you?

6. “Tell her to get stuffed.”

'Reply to All' claims another victim.

'Reply to All' claims another victim.

When school Principal Patrick Hazlewood received a complaint from a local pensioner about his pupils misbehaving, his immediate reaction was to email his colleague with his true feelings: “Tell her to get stuffed”. Alas, he hit ‘Reply to All’ by mistake and his remark found its way to the entire staff address book and parents’ association. The school was later forced to offer an apology.

5. Racist or moron… or racist moron?

Racism isn't funny, even over email.

Racism isn't funny, even over email.

Early 2006: the phrase ‘credit crunch’ had not yet made its way into our daily lives, the US housing bubble was in full swing, and Gordon Brown sat licking his lips at the prospect of becoming the next British Prime Minister. What could possibly go wrong? Well aside from the recession… an email sent by a junior official in the UK entitled “Advantage of being Chinese”. Not only did the sender expose himself as a racist when he encouraged recipients to “try pulling the corners of your eyes as if you were Chinese”, but also as a moron when he copied it to his press list, containing 83 national newspaper journalists and columnists. Woops. One chuckling journalist even replied: “Will we be invited to your leaving party?”

4. “I think they’re both crap.”

"I can't believe I was such an ass."

"I can't believe I was such an ass."

Sports commentators are no strangers to embarrassing gaffes. In 2002 the BBC radio 5 hired well-known commentators Andy Gray and Jonathan Pearce to help cover the upcoming soccer World Cup in South Korea and Japan. The executive editor of BBC Sports News, Graeme Reid-Davies, decided to email a colleague with his own two-cents, declaring “I think they’re both crap.” Unfortunately, Graeme had not quite mastered the concept of the ‘Reply to All’ button yet, and before he knew it had sent his comment to over 500 BBC sports staff – including the new signings, Gray and Pearce. When asked about the incident Graeme did however show he could turn his scathing criticism against himself, stating: “I can’t believe I was such an ass.”

3. Note to self: Even Billionaires Should Delete Incriminating Emails

A little less time posing Bill, and a little more time deleting incriminating emails.

A little less time posing Bill, and a little more time deleting incriminating emails.

In 1998 Bill Gates showed that even experienced IT professionals are not immune from being caught out by the email. Whilst defending Microsoft against charges brought by the US Justice department, Gates continually denied everything, saying ‘I don’t recall’ so many times that even the presiding judge had to chuckle. Unfortunately for the software mogul, a thorough examination of his email later confirmed that not only had he been aware of, but had actively participated in attempts to establish an illegal monopoly. Had the man who brought Microsoft Outlook to the masses really thought the police wouldn’t check his inbox? Microsoft were later ordered to share their technology and settled out of court.

2. “The more upper-class you dress, the less likely you shall be denied entry…”

Lucy Gao's email invite was forwarded all over the world.

Lucy Gao's email invite was forwarded all over the world.

On her 21st birthday Lucy Gao, a worker for Citigroup in London, organized a bash at the world-famous Ritz Hotel. Little did she know her email invite would go down in internet history as one of the greatest email blunders of all time. Included were instructions on how to deal with door staff, what to wear, what to say, how to look your best and a staggered schedule of guest arrival times. Helpful hints included:

“it goes without saying that the more upper-class you dress, the less likely you shall be denied entry”, and “if you experience any issues… my PA Ms. Gill will kindly deal with your queries between 8:30pm to 10pm” (believed to be university friend Sanampreet Gill).

Hours later Lucy’s email was doing the rounds of investment banks around the world as she become the subject of global ridicule. Citigroup launched an investigation but later declared that Ms. Gao had done nothing wrong and her employment remained “unaffected” – unlike her reputation.

1. “Dude, the threesome’s off… that last email cost me my job.”

"Old horse fat?" The reaction in the office.

"Old horse fat?" Patrick's poposition goes down well in the office.

At 9.38 on the 30th July 2003 a high-flying lawyer, Patrick Smith, received an email from a colleague inviting him for drinks later that day. Unfortunately for him, Patrick had evidently been away the day they covered ‘keep it simple stupid’ at nursery school. Where a simple ‘yes’ would have sufficed, Patrick chose to reply with the following:

“Dude, ‘Carol’ [not her real name] wants some of that double penetration action, so let me know when you and the old horse fat are around.”

For ‘old horse fat’ read ‘penis’ and ‘double penetration’… well, you get the idea. Unfortunately for Patrick, it seems he was also away the day they learned how to use email. It’s hard to imagine how he felt when he realized he’d hit ‘Reply to All’. As one blogger pointed out, his secret remained a secret for all of ten seconds – just enough time for his colleagues to stop laughing and hit the forward button, and in the end Patrick lost his job, his dignity and any chance of getting laid that night. Hmmm, there’s a lesson to be learned there.

Sources: 1, 2, 3

Images by: kosmokomik, steve keys, Sir Mildred Pierce, palgus, gameimp, wikipedia, gawker, supervillain.

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Comments

  1. Andrea's Gravatar Comment by Andrea on October 28th, 2009 at 8:05 am

    Wow… what a list.. very interesting…thanks

  2. dj's Gravatar Comment by dj on October 28th, 2009 at 8:08 am

    I and several colleagues got 3 to 5 days off without pay and 15 colleagues got fired for junior high emails sent around the group. The PC Police weren’t blessed with a sense of humor, only fear of what the newspapers would think.

  3. John Davis's Gravatar Comment by John Davis on October 28th, 2009 at 8:21 am

    LOL I think its pretty funny myself dude!

    RT
    http://www.hide-yer-stuff.se.tc

  4. Mattwi's Gravatar Comment by Mattwi on October 28th, 2009 at 9:37 am

    I remember no.8 as I rec’d a copy of it myself. I believe it had travelled as far as australian email recipients and elsewhere round the entire planet 3 times before it eventually reached Claire again, as she’d added some comments about people being juvenile etc. halfway through the message. At the time it was the most read email ever, so I do feel sorry for the girl.

  5. Greg's Gravatar Comment by Greg on October 28th, 2009 at 10:55 am

    There’s no way number 7 is true; I had a top secret clearance in the military, and dealt with classified every day. It’s transmitted on an Intranet that cannot access the Internet. There’s literally no connectivity between them.

  6. Monica Dickey's Gravatar Comment by Monica Dickey on October 28th, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    haha e-mailing about sex at work is never a good idea.

    The Bill Gates one is funny. You’d think he would know how to hide his tracks on a computer.

  7. Ryan Rigney's Gravatar Comment by Ryan Rigney on October 29th, 2009 at 4:34 pm

    I once got hired as a freelance writer for a site and turned in my first editorial, which was on a serious topic rather than a humorous one, like I normally do. The editor of the site accidentally forwarded to me an entire conversation that he had with one of his co-workers that was filled with pretty much the most insulting things that I’ve ever had said about me. Needless to say, I’m now writing for a much more successful website, and his site has been left in the dust :)

  8. Amandeep Singh's Gravatar Comment by Amandeep Singh on November 10th, 2009 at 7:17 am

    hahah… :) wowww… what a presentation of the real scenarios… At many points i felt as if my office is being talked of.. :P

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