August 26, 2013

Birthday Business

It was the hollowest of birthday greetings. My big day was a week or so ago, and I couldn't help but laugh and shake my head when I glanced at my email and checked my voicemail.

The first email was from my dentist. Yes, the guy who cleans my teeth (or at least looks very quickly at my teeth after the hygienist cleans them) sent an auto-generated email greeting with this subject: "Birthday greetings from your dentist."

The body of the email said:

Dear Adam,
Birthdays are good for you.
Statistics show that people who have the most live longest!
We hope that the coming year will be filled with health, happiness and success.
Happy Birthday!
Your Friends at [office name]

Of course, when a business wishes you a happy birthday it usually wants something in return. At the bottom of the email was a link encouraging me to refer a friend to the dentist's office. Also, I'm curious as to what statistics the email is referring to. People who have the most really live longest? Birthdays, maybe. But money and possessions certainly aren't the path to eternal life. I guess my dentist has never heard the old joke about how you never see a hearse pulling a U-Haul.

To the office's credit, there was another link to click if I wanted to "not receive this type of email from us in the future." Though I have a long history of firing dentists, including once doing so over the phone while on the way to my appointment (that'll be a future blog post), sending me a silly spam-like birthday email is not a firing offense. 

That wasn't the only business birthday greeting I received in my inbox. My bank sent this classic:

Dear Adam,
Customer Number XXXXXXXXXXXX
They say age & money are two things you're never supposed to ask about. So we'll just be polite and say: Happy Birthday, Saver. Here's to being another year old and savings-wiser. 

That was very kind of the bank to include my customer number to ensure that I wasn't receiving a birthday greeting from a scammer. Just like with the dentist's office, this email from the bank was silly but not a firing offense.

The third amusing birthday wish came via voicemail. It was from the salesperson at a car dealership where I purchased a car about 16-months ago. He said something like this:

Hi, Adam. This is [name] from [dealership name]. I sold you a [model] a while back. I'm calling to wish you a happy birthday and to let you know that if you have any car needs, please give me a call since I would be happy to help you again.

The first thing I thought was, If I already need a new car after only 16 months, then I certainly wouldn't go back to the same place again. But the car's fine. So once again, this is not a firing offense.

There's just something awkward about a business trying to send birthday wishes. It's like using the birthday as a ruse to hit you over the head with an advertisement. 

Businesses like to take advantage of holidays too. I used to live in a neighborhood where every 4th of July, an insurance company went around and stuck a little American flag in the front of everyone's yard. But before you salute this patriotic gesture, I should point out that each flag had an advertisement for the company attached to it. Isn't that discourteous to the flag to stick an ad on it?

It's similar to how in the months after 9/11, so many businesses started using flags in their ads. While some business owners were sincerely being patriotic, others surely had purely profit-driven motives.

By the way, Tuesday is LBJ's birthday which is a state holiday in Texas. Is anyone going to visit his gravesite and drop off an ad?


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