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Dear sender, my common sense is out of the office at present

(19 Posts)
MagicalHamSandwich Wed 24-Jun-15 21:37:52

Dear fellow pedants,

Please help me resolve a disagreement about what someone is actually saying. This is his out-of-office auto-response:

Thank you for your message. I am out of office until [date] with limited access to email. In urgent cases, you may reach me at [phone number]
Best regards,

I'm okay (or rather force myself to put up with) the 'at' before his phone number. It's acceptable in American English apparently. However, 'you may reach me' clearly implies 'you may or may not - let's face it, mate, you won't!' in my opinion.

Please help me convince him it's silly or at least explain to me why it isn't!

MrsHathaway Wed 24-Jun-15 21:44:58

Isn't it permission-may rather than probability-may?

"In an emergency I permit you to ring my personal mobile."

It's pretty self-important to suggest that one is completely indispensable, though. It should actually read "If urgent, please contact my assistant/colleague Alex on +44 1234 567890 or"

Best regards is horrible.

DrankSangriaInThePark Wed 24-Jun-15 21:50:23

No, it's 'may' as a synonym of 'can'. You have the possibility of reaching me, the permission to reach me' etc.

DrankSangriaInThePark Wed 24-Jun-15 21:51:54

Xposted with MrsH. I agree about Best mishmash.

MagicalHamSandwich Wed 24-Jun-15 21:53:27

It's clearly meant to be a permission related 'may', yes. But as you point out that sounds rather condescending (he most definitely isn't and would be mortified).

To my eat it just sounds all wrong.

MagicalHamSandwich Wed 24-Jun-15 21:53:54


Thanks iPhone!

cornflakegirl Wed 24-Jun-15 21:56:58

I think it's fine - fairly standard and therefore not confusing.

But I always take Best Regards as an indication of thinly veiled contempt.

MagicalHamSandwich Wed 24-Jun-15 21:57:30

Yes to 'best regards' being horrible by the way. It's endemic in my firm, we also abbreviate it to 'BR'. I'm pretty certain they'd think people who don't use it are odd. grin

SwedishEdith Wed 24-Jun-15 21:58:59

Are you discussing this with him? Just tell him that a) it should be

I'm not in the office until [date] with limited email access. If it's urgent, contact x on 123 or at

and b) no-one really reads people's OOO messages. Of, if they do, they delete them straightaway anyway.

MagicalHamSandwich Wed 24-Jun-15 22:00:12

X-post, cornflakesgirl.

Thanks for this new interpretation. I shall relish each opportunity to send my best regards to business contacts I despise from now on!

SpringInTheStep Wed 24-Jun-15 22:01:04

"Best regards" seems a little more distant than the usual "Kind regards" but not as indifferent as just "Regards".

Probably should have just gone with plain old distant "Regards" or if you're worried everyone will think they've pisses you off just "Best wishes." Only that soon starts to sound like you're wishing everyone happy birthday!

I wouldn't think twice about that message though. I read it immediately as someone saying their email contact might not be possible, so either wait for their return or you can call them on the phone instead if it's urgent.

MagicalHamSandwich Wed 24-Jun-15 22:08:21

I like yours, Edith. It's straightforward and avoids all the dreadful fluff.

And I am most certainly discussing this with him. Which is fine, seeing as he is my boss's boss and hence in the perfect position to tell me to shut up if it bothers him. wink

DragonsCanHop Wed 24-Jun-15 22:09:44

It reads like he is having time off but not having time off if you want to make him feel important you can call him on xxx otherwise he will get back to you in his return.

I've never seen best regards used.

MagicalHamSandwich Wed 24-Jun-15 22:17:00

We're consultants. Not actually having time off when we're technically off is kind of what we do for a living. If you don't give them permission to they'll call you anyway. I've talked some idiot through fixing a safety-critical IT system from a hotel bar on St Bart's before. So I actually get that part.

SenecaFalls Fri 26-Jun-15 13:27:08

Can someone enlighten me about the problem with "best regards"? I'm American, and we don't generally use it in the US, but I have received emails from people in the UK who use it. What should they be using, depending on the context?

MrsHathaway Fri 26-Jun-15 16:14:33

Best regards is American (although I've read an American article decrying it this week, which I'll look for shortly).

British is Kind regards. If you are furious and about to take your business elsewhere you drop the Kind.

MrsHathaway Fri 26-Jun-15 16:17:56

Here it is.

SenecaFalls Fri 26-Jun-15 16:28:42

Thanks. I just did a quick review of my work emails, and "thanks" seems to be the most common sign off, which can be meaningless, depending on the context.

Icimoi Wed 01-Jul-15 19:27:41

It's "out of office" that I would have issues with: I would normally interpret that in the context of, say, a Prime Minister who is out of office when s/he loses an election. Shouldn't it be "out of the office" or, preferably, "away from the office" or "out on appointments/leave" or similar?

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