The other morning I woke up at about 5 a.m., angry. So angry that I went downstairs to the computer to compose an angry letter. I sent it to my office email address for use later.
One of the hardest things to learn is how minds almost never change. And even less so in email. There's something about arguing in print that seems to do nothing but blow up the problem. Sort of like putting a fire out with gasoline.
This guy who made me angry bought software — discontinued years ago, before Windows Vista, and also lacking a serial number — that was both obsolete and pirated to boot. He got it for pennies on the dollar from a fraudulent eBay seller, believed what that grifter told him, and blamed us for it. And did so with insults and threats. He insisted that because he'd bought "an unopened retail box" from the trickster, we had done him wrong. As if the eBay seller couldn't possibly have lied.
The person who tricked him also stole from us: money spent on pirates is money not spent on legitimate software. He damages our market and our reputation. But he was mad at us. And I was mad back at him.
Fortunately for all concerned, by the time I'd printed out the letter, I showed it to Jake Weatherly, VP customer experience. He showed it to Sabrina Parsons, CEO. She said "don't send it." So I didn't.
I liked what I'd written. I pointed out that if he had bought a 2004 Toyota from somebody who pushed the odometer back to zero and said it was brand new, that wouldn't be Toyota's fault. And if he bought a fake Rolex from a guy in a trench coat with watches displayed in the lining, that wouldn't be Rolex' fault.
Sabrina and Jake pointed out the real truth: no matter how right, no matter how reasonable, letters (and by extension, emails) don't change people's minds. As president of the company, I could either apologize — and I wasn't going to do that — or not respond.
It's sort of like that bit in the movie War Games: the only way to win is to not play.