Note: Please bear in mind that whilst this topic does canvass opinions, it is not a fight club. You may disagree with other posters but we do ask you please to stick to our Talk Guidelines and to be civil. We don't allow personal attacks or troll-hunting. Do please report any. Thanks, MNHQ.

To expect as a potential customer to be addressed as Ms/Mrs?

(90 Posts)
DribbleWiper Thu 02-May-13 10:34:45

Two return emails this week, one from a cleaning company and one from a potential nursery, have begun with 'Hi Dribble', rather than 'Ms/Mrs Wiper'. Surely it's still appropriate and courteous for companies to address their customers by some sort of title until invited to do otherwise?

AIBU to feel rubbed up slightly the wrong way?

MikeOxard Thu 02-May-13 11:18:56

I think Mrs X is quite old fashioned now. Most places will use first names and most people probably prefer it. I makes me feel old to be called Mrs Oxard.

MaxPepsi Thu 02-May-13 11:18:59

Ah, in that case I too would have called you Dribble. not Mrs Wiper.

FlowersBlown Thu 02-May-13 11:23:18

I don't like the use of titles. If you are not married then you get Miss which is some what infantilising. First names are totally acceptable.

DribbleWiper Thu 02-May-13 11:23:28

MaxPepsi, but why would you have thought I'd included it, though? Genuinely curious.

So is education the only sphere where titles are regularly used, then? I call all parents by their title (which I check on the computer system first) and they all call me Mrs Wiper!

MaxPepsi Thu 02-May-13 11:38:25

For additional information - like when people put their qualifications after their name. Bsc, Hons etc etc can you tell I don't have any as not actually sure what they are

If I was to receive an email from Joe Bloggs (Dr) I'd still call him Joe

For me, if you want to be addressed in a certain way you have to make it clear that is the way you want to be addressed.

There is so much potential for causing offence these days I do think you are damned if you do, damned if you don't.

My first name can be shortened. I don't like it. I therfore ensure I always use my full length name as that is how I wish to be addressed. If I'd use the shortened version I can't then get arsey about it can i ?

MaxPepsi Thu 02-May-13 11:41:00

sorry - eg

Chris (tine) Chris (topher) I'm letting you know my name but giving you additional information?

Jesus, I'm waffling grin

ukatlast Thu 02-May-13 11:55:07

Quote Dribblewiper: 'So is education the only sphere where titles are regularly used, then? I call all parents by their title (which I check on the computer system first) and they all call me Mrs Wiper!'

Yes Dribblewiper I think this is key to your 'oldfashioned' attitude. I am old but can't abide formality and school is the only area (as a parent) where I struggle with using first names because of attitudes like yours. I assume the reason really since we are all adults is to do with not letting the pupils see such informality...again why....in the workplace the norm is now universally first names so should kids' really have to keep using Mrs X/Mr X etc....(radical I know)?

My kids' schools are somewhat confused themselves and sometimes write letters using titles and surname and sometimes just teacher's first name and surname. When I help out on trips etc some teachers introduce themselves with their first name and call me mine which is fine but others stand on ceremony. Guess which ones I am more inclined to help out?

Medics etc should realise that reducing professional distance by using first names makes most patients feel more comfortable and less nervous. So YABU.

DribbleWiper Thu 02-May-13 11:55:41

Hmm! I'm starting to wonder whether I'm actually a young fuddy-duddy!

DribbleWiper Thu 02-May-13 11:58:58

Cor blimey, ukatlast, I didn't invent the system of etiquette that led to pupils calling teachers by their titles (respectfully!). I'd actually be very happy for them to use my first name if that were the system across the school - we certainly did at sixth form and it caused no problems.

Tiny bit aggressive, there!

Trinpy Thu 02-May-13 11:59:44

For me, it depends on how well I know the person and what the situation is. I was fine with my old gp calling me by my first name because I'd known him for years, would stop and chat with him if I saw him outside of work. However I would prefer my new doctor to call me Ms/Mrs because I don't really know her or like her.

I do find it annoying and a bit rude when professionals try to be overly personal in this way though, so I agree with you.

StealthOfficialCrispTester Thu 02-May-13 12:02:58

" Medics etc should realise that reducing professional distance by using first names makes most patients feel more comfortable and less nervous. So YABU"

Im not convinced that is universally the case. Can you back that up?

olgaga Thu 02-May-13 12:06:22

You know you're getting old when you start being addressed as "Madame" when you're on holiday abroad grin.

olgaga Thu 02-May-13 12:10:42

Personally I think the best way to address an email to someone you're not familiar with is Dear Firstname Lastname.

However, the different opinions on this thread show that this is something very subjective and difficult for anyone to get right.

I think it's worth remembering that people don't tend to do the "wrong thing" if they know you're likely to take umbrage. Short of everyone asking everyone else how they would like to be addressed, I'm not sure what the answer is!

Scholes34 Thu 02-May-13 12:18:53

It's probably an age thing. When you've worked over the years in an office environment writing letters, and are now using e-mails for the same kind of correspondence, you're probably likely to stick to the Dear Title Last name salutation, until your receive a reply signed off with a first name.

I certainly would expect someone who doesn't know me not to start a message with Hi Scholes. As said up-thread, it's faux friendly and what I'd consider unprofessional.

I did manage to offend a mum from school I don't know too well by addressing an e-mail to her with Dear First name, rather than Hi First name!

StealthOfficialCrispTester Thu 02-May-13 12:20:19

It also depends on the culture. Where I work, everyone is addressed by their first name. If I insisted on being addressed as Mrs Bear in emails I would be the only one!

DribbleWiper Thu 02-May-13 12:39:24

Entirely agree, Stealth, we don't call each other Mr/Mrs X unless the children are in earshot.

Scholes34, I entirely agree with you, unsurprisingly. Erring on the side of caution is what I would do when contacting a stranger for the first time in a professional capacity. It's the professional bit that makes the difference for me. If it were on Twitter or another website, I'd probably use the first name and expect the same back.

Using both names is a bit Demolition Man...

maddening Thu 02-May-13 13:37:19

I think it depends on how you signed off on your response to them - particularly on emails the standard is to refer to as their full or formal name unless they have already signed off with a first name or nickname.

So if you approached them and signed off as dribble then yabu - if you have never contacted them or have signed off in previous communication with mrs wiper then yanbu.

DribbleWiper Thu 02-May-13 13:46:45

I answered that question upthread, maddening. I put my full name with 'Mrs' in brackets afterwards, suggesting they might like to use it! They didn't.

maddening Thu 02-May-13 13:59:16

Mmmm strange way to sign off - possibly not v clear so maybe they took a guess.

If you want to be addressed as Mrs Wiper then sign of Mrs Wiper. Dribble Wiper (Mrs) is open to interpretation imo and Dear Dribble Wiper doesn't read well in communication so Dear Dribble would be my choice too in that case.

If it were communication from a dr, bank, school then you would assume the formal every time but a service such as cleaning or childcare wouldn't necessarily warrant such formality imo.

Kendodd Thu 02-May-13 14:13:33

I think yabu.

I don't think the etiquette for addressing emails is properly defined, people and companies, have to just take a guess. I always use whatever they have signed off with and if you put 'Dribble Wiper (Mrs)' I would think I should use Dribble, if you had put 'Mrs Wiper' I would have used that.

But really, I think you should find more important things to worry about.

limitedperiodonly Thu 02-May-13 14:17:54

YANBU If I didn't know you I'd address a letter or email to Dear Mrs Wiper, particularly if I was trying to sell you a service. I'd expect the same from you.

If we got friendly I'd expect Hi Limited, no salutation at all or even 'Hey, you'.

I don't understand why that is so hard to grasp.

<memories of long-ago work dispute where the HR department of the company who were trying to stuff me kept addressing letters to Dear Limited, like I was asking how much holiday I had left rather than for them to desist in breaking the law>

DribbleWiper Thu 02-May-13 14:31:31

Kendodd, I don't believe I said anywhere that I was 'worried' about it! Is it not permissable to post a non-life-or-death topic for discussion?

Kendodd Thu 02-May-13 14:37:53

Okay, to feel 'rubbed up slightly the wrong way' about.

pigsDOfly Thu 02-May-13 14:39:41

I think whatever term of address you use. Someone's going to be offended. In emails, I do tend towards first names and when giving my name to anyone never give a title.

I don't agree though that it's appropriate for doctors to address patients by their first names to help them relax. If I'm being treated by a doctor who's young enough to be my son/daughter I think it's patronising of them to call me by my first name.

Years ago in hospital the woman in the next bed to me was an elderly Scottish lady who had been a nanny of the old fashion type all her working life. She never commented when the young student nurses addressed her by her first name in a tone of voice one usually uses to chivy young children along, but the look on her face said it all.

Sometimes first names just aren't appropriate.

ConferencePear Thu 02-May-13 14:42:08

"" Medics etc should realise that reducing professional distance by using first names makes most patients feel more comfortable and less nervous. So YABU"

I agree with this. My GP calls me by my first name; I don't even know his first name. Far from making me comfortable it makes me feel that I'm being patronised.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now