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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?

DribbleWiper Thu 02-May-13 14:44:57

For pigs and Conference:

Names (Wendy Cope)

She was Eliza for a few weeks

When she was a baby –

Eliza Lily. Soon it changed to Lil.

Later she was Miss Steward in the baker’s shop

And then “my love”, “my darling”, Mother.

Widowed at thirty, she went back to work

As Mrs Hand. Her daughter grew up,

Married and gave birth

Now she was Nanna. “Everybody

Calls me Nanna,” she would say to visitors.

And so they did – friends, tradesman, the doctor.

In the geriatric ward

They used the patients’ Christian names.

“Lil,” we said, “or Nanna,”

But it wasn’t in her file

And for those last bewildered weeks

She was Eliza once again.

DribbleWiper Thu 02-May-13 14:46:59

I'm not making a point - just reminded me of the poem.

limitedperiodonly Thu 02-May-13 14:52:05

When I was in hospital I got really fed up with doctors not introducing themselves before asking me questions or worse, discussing me like I wasn't there. I also didn't like them calling me by my first name but introducing themselves (when forced to) as Dr or Mr X. So I said so.

No problem with the nursing staff calling me Limited because they always introduced themselves and always by their first name. I noticed that they called some older patients Mr or Mrs out of courtesy.

I wonder why it is that doctors with their big brains can't grasp the things that mere nurses can? wink

Doctors insisting on Dr. Lastname, but calling you Firstname, or even worse, when dealing with your DC, referring to you as 'Mum' is extremely patronising and disrespectful, not 'comforting' at all.

themaltesecat Thu 02-May-13 15:00:19

I like that poem.

OP, you are right, it is rude. Just your first name? Abrasive and far too familiar- and bad business. Even in the Soviet Union, when they forcefully did away with the old order and everything that went with it (titles, ordinary courtesy and what have you), they would address you as "Comrade So-and-So."

Chortling at "very, very offended" upthread. I'm also a Kiwi, and one of the reasons I emigrated was my fellow countrymen forever getting "very, very offended" at fuck all.

limitedperiodonly Thu 02-May-13 15:00:27

Ahh Dribble you've reminded me of this Elvis Costello song about an elderly woman in a nursing home.

Veronica sits in her favourite chair and she sits
very quiet and still
And they call her a name that they never get
right and if they don't then nobody else will
But she used to have a carefree mind of her
own, with devilish look in her eye
Saying "You can call me anything you like, but
my name is Veronica"

I don't know what my point is either but it always makes me smile and cry at the same time.

cumfy Thu 02-May-13 15:00:34

Why do you let them know your forename ?

DribbleWiper Thu 02-May-13 15:01:34

Yes, we've only been into hospital once with DD, but I didn't like being referred to as just 'Mum'. My poor DH wasn't even addressed at all, presumably because they weren't sure if he was 'Dad'!

DribbleWiper Thu 02-May-13 15:03:49

I was thinking about that kind of thing themaltesecat! Can we think of an alternative to Comrade? Suppose we could go for 'Citizen', like during the French Revolution...

Citizen Dribble would be okay.... grin

pigsDOfly Thu 02-May-13 15:16:10

I quite like Citizen, it has a certain dignity to it.

I too hate that 'mum' thing. When my children were younger it used to really annoy me. Just because I have a child it doesn't mean my brain's gone walkabout. Bloody patronising.

trinity0097 Thu 02-May-13 15:28:00

How did you sign off your original email? If with your first name it would be considered normal in my opinion to then reply using it. If with Mrs Whatever, then I would expect them to do that.

I am a teacher, and I will start a fresh email (to all but a few parents I communicate with often) as Mrs Whatever, but then in my reply to their reply as Sally, or whatever their first name is if that is what they used. I do not consider it rude for them to address me by my first name in an email if I have previously replied using my first name.

trinity0097 Thu 02-May-13 15:30:06

How did you sign off your original email? If with your first name it would be considered normal in my opinion to then reply using it. If with Mrs Whatever, then I would expect them to do that.

I am a teacher, and I will start a fresh email (to all but a few parents I communicate with often) as Mrs Whatever, but then in my reply to their reply as Sally, or whatever their first name is if that is what they used. I do not consider it rude for them to address me by my first name in an email if I have previously replied using my first name.

DribbleWiper Thu 02-May-13 16:25:02

Already answered twice upthread

'Dribble Wiper (Mrs)', which seems to be considered a bit odd. I think I wanted to make the point that I expected to be addressed (at least initially) as Mrs Wiper, but have no problem with first names thereafter. It's clearly confusing and I won't do it again.

I'm also a teacher and would certainly address parents by title + surname in emails and usually thereafter. It's a professional relationship and they rarely attempt to move on to using first names. There are a couple with several children, whom I've all taught, but it's not the norm.

limitedperiodonly Thu 02-May-13 16:40:43

We used to call someone at work Citizen S... (I can't put his real name because it's very distinctive and I think his wife's on here) for his strident views on THE WAY THINGS SHOULD BE, especially when drunk. Never to his face though. We did like him really, but the lectures were a little hard to take.

limitedperiodonly Thu 02-May-13 16:47:22

It's interesting that one of the replies was from a cleaning company. My mum was a cleaner and she was always Mrs X but she called her employers by their first names.

Good, honest cleaners are like gold dust and are worth buttering up. But I still think the company should call you Mrs Wiper.

DribbleWiper Thu 02-May-13 17:09:23

I've been looking up synonyms for 'citizen', but they're a bit uninspiring. Anyone fancy Denizen? Compatriot? Taxpayer??

ComposHat Thu 02-May-13 18:37:24

I expect a certain degree of reciprocity in names.

Yes it is interesting how the power dynamic works, I am quite happy to be called 'Compo' but only object if the person then refers to themselves as 'Dr/Mr/Ms Smith.' It is a bit of one upmanship on the part of the speaker.

If you wished to be referred to by a more formal title, grant me the same courtesy.

ComposHat Thu 02-May-13 18:40:01

Oh and OP how did you address the email you responded to.

If you signed it

yours sincerely,

Dribble Wiper

How would they know if you were Mrs/Ms/Dr/Lady/Admiral Wiper?

thermalsinapril Thu 02-May-13 18:43:48

YANBU. If someone doesn't know me, I'm Ms Thermals.

ChunkyPickle Thu 02-May-13 19:00:21

YANBU - in a formal/customer/whatever situation I am Ms Pickle, and I would do the same to people I met - be they receptionists, doctors, salespeople or whatever. If you call me Chunky, then I know that you're trying to be inappropriately friendly and that puts me on my guard because you're probably about to try and sell me something.

When I was a salesperson, I always appreciated that my company put my full name on my badge, and liked that the polite customers would call me Miss Pickle (Ms would be better, but it is more awkward to pronounce).

In hospital with my son I totally understood that my son was the important one with the name, and I was mum - I preferred that the nurses looked after and knew him rather than mucked about figuring out my name (which is different to my childs)

exoticfruits Thu 02-May-13 19:01:48

It is a bit tricky though- I am not Ms.

ComposHat Thu 02-May-13 19:17:23

YANBU. If someone doesn't know me, I'm Ms Thermals.

What if someone has a ambigous first name like Sam? or a name from another culture where it is not clear what gender a person is?

How would they know if you were a Ms or a Mr?

Bue Thu 02-May-13 19:26:58

Oh I hate it when doctors introduce themselves as Dr so and so but they refer to you by your first name. Mum is even worse! Luckily on our labour ward the vast majority use their first names, which I think is much nicer and more appropriate for everyone involved. There are a couple of young male anaesthetists (why is it always the young male anaesthetists?!) who go in with "Hi Karen, I'm Dr Johnson" and I always think, oh you utter twat.

DribbleWiper Thu 02-May-13 19:30:35

ComposHat Please see my reply to your question upthread. You've given me an idea, though. I think I shall be First Sea Lady Wiper from now on.

Sams presumably are more used to making their gender clear in correspondence (if they don't, then ho hum). If it were a name from another culture, I'd almost certainly try to find out which gender it applied to. Risk of mistakes, still, of course, but effort made.

GettingObsessive Thu 02-May-13 19:33:59

If I email people, I sign off Getting Obsessive. They usually (in a work context) reply Dear Ms Obsessive or Dear Getting.

On forms (for example for the electricity company) I always give my title and I expect them to refer to me as Mrs Obsessive. As a child, I was taught that you don't call someone by their first name until you've been invited to.

On the phone I call myself Getting Obsessive, but they always seem to call me Mrs Obsessive must be the steel in my voice

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