This morning, an unknown number of people received an e-mail from photo-printing site Shutterfly congratulating them on their new babies. The problem is that most of these people don’t have fresh new babies at home, and aren’t expecting. Many of them have no kids at all. While most were probably able to laugh it off as a weird mistake, plenty of recipients weren’t.
What we don’t know is how the message reached all of these people. Many claimed that they had never signed up for Shutterfly or its mailing list.
Here’s what they saw:
What a lovely ad…if you were someone who actually had ordered birth announcements from Shutterfly, or who had even given birth recently.
“The only problem? I’ve never been pregnant. And if I was, I certainly wouldn’t have told random people at Shutterfly about my life changing news,” wrote reader Krissy when sending us a tip about this misdirected mailing. “I can’t imagine how many Moms who lost their babies may have received this mistaken email, and how heartbreaking that would be.”
For some women who received the e-mail, it was an amusing oddity. Just more junk mail in their inboxes. (As far as we know, only women received this e-mail – let us know if you’re an exception. UPDATE: Nope, men received it too.)
Some were mildly annoyed or insulted, but speculated how the message might read to others in different life circumstances.
For others, it dredged up grief over the recent or not-so-recent loss of a pregnancy or of a child, or served as a cruel reminder of their struggles with infertility.
It wasn’t an intentional reminder of these things, of course. Almost 12 hours after the message went out, Shutterfly began apologizing to individual users who complained on social media.
Common elements of apology comments: sending the e-mail was accidental, and the company is very sorry. To their credit, they didn’t use blame-shifting language like “we’re sorry that you were offended.” Here’s one comment posted on a Facebook post:
Caryn, we want to extend our deepest apology for the email that reached many in error this morning. We know that this has impacted you in a personal manner and for that we are truly sorry.
In an official statement, Shutterfly told Consumerist, “Earlier this morning, we unintentionally sent out an e-mail in error to some of our customers. We deeply apologize for this intrusion and any offense this may have caused.” We asked for an estimate of how many people received the message, but they didn’t provide one. Maybe they don’t know.
Update: The following day, <a href="Shutterfly Sends Apology For E-Mail Celebrating Imaginary Babies” target=”_blank”>Shutterfly sent an apology e-mail out to everyone who received the original message.