Tag Archives: emails

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Why you shouldn’t rebuke people by email

Al posted this thoughtful bit of pastoral advice the other day.

“Relationally it’s better to get on the phone. And if people are already against you then in my experience it’s best not to answer them in black and white.”

And then, just a day later, this video appeared on the Gospel Coalition blog.

It’s good advice. And all the points are valid. Especially in the context of ministry. I’ve got to say though, I found keeping an email trail was incredibly beneficial for protecting oneself from future recollections of a conversation – so sometimes it is worth having things in writing.

The Dr Paul saga

This is a very long post about Dr Paul, my new friend from Ghana. It’s over 3,000 words long.

Feel free to skip it. You have been warned.

Dr Paul is my new friend from Ghana. We have spoken on the phone a number of times. He has a thick African accent and he talks very fast. He tries to reassure me that I have nothing to worry about. Because he will look after everything and make sure I get my money.

Being the less than gullible person that I am I have had to demand some evidence to back up his claims. He has been less than forthcoming.

It might be time for me to try to turn the tables a little. Here are some email highlights…

FROM THE DESK OF THE GOVERNOR BANK OF GHANA (BOG)REPUBLIC OF GHANA

Dear Sir/ madam, IMMEDIATE PAYMENT OF YOUR CONTRACT INHERITANCE ON CONTRACT #:MAV/GNPC/GH/MIN/009.

From the records of outstanding contractors due for payment with the Government of Ghana your name and company was discovered as next on the list of the outstanding contractors who have not received their payments. I wish to inform you that your payment is being processed and will be released to you as soon as you respond to this letter.

Also note that from my record in my file your outstanding contract payment is US$15.7 million dollars (Fifteen Million Seven Hundred Thousand United States Dollar Please re-confirm to me if this is inline with what you have in your record and also re-confirm to me the followings:

1) Your full name.

2) Phone, Fax and Mobile #.

3) Company name, Position and Address.

4) Profession, age and marital status.

5) Any kind of identification

I don’t recall doing any work for the Government of Ghana. This is curious. I also changed my name slightly – you never know what sort of nastiness these people might be capable.

Hi Paul,

Thanks for contacting me. I am confused – are you suggesting that I owe you $15.7 million? That can not be correct.

Regards,

Nathaniel McIntosh Campbell

He didn’t respond to clarify the situation so I let him know I was no dummy… I may have embelished some details further to continue to further obfuscate my identity.

Dr Paul,

I have reread the wording of your original email. I now understand that you will be paying me $15.7 million.

I am very excited.

Can you advise what steps need to be undertaken for me to claim this money.

The answers, as best I can, to your questions, are as follows:

1) Nathan McIntosh Campbell

2) I don’t have a fax or landline – my mobile number is (my actual number).

3) Company Name: McIntosh Communications, position Director

4) Communications Professional, 42, Married.

5) Unfortunately my wallet was stolen in a home invasion three days ago – I will forward my identification to you when I receive new cards.

Obviously I sound impressive, because Dr Paul wished to continue with this transaction in order to deliver me my money. He seemed nice. He has not, at this point, demanded a share of the money owed to me…

Att: Nathan McIntosh Campbell

Thanks for the mail. We have noted the contents of your mail and we want to inform you that all arrangements have been concluded to deliver the fund to you.

Do note that it is absolutely necessary for you to send to me the nearest airport to your destination any your form of identification to enable the diplomat knows the person he is delivering to. Also the reason we need your nearest airport is to enable the us get freight clearance from Kotoka International Airport Ghana as well as for the Ghana Customs Excise and Preventive Services on your behalf.

This is very important.

Furthermore, you have to note that as soon as the diplomat arrives the nearest airport to your destination, he will call you and then advice you on the exact time he will be coming to your address for the delivery.

Finally, I will advice you to keep this process secret and confidential till the delivery has been made to you to avoid you loosing your funds. I will furnish you with the opening code number of the box because the diplomat will not have access to it except you.

Further information shall be given to you as soon as I hear from you.

Cordially yours,

Dr. Paul Acquah

Governor Bank Of Ghana Accra

+233-24-1111-297

That is his phone number. Feel free to call. I haven’t yet – he’s called me a few times. We’ve spoken for about 20 minutes in total. If he calls me again I’ll try to record the conversation. I am obviously very keen to receive this outstanding money – but I am cautious.

Dr Paul,

Thank you for your email. You understand I must approach deals like this with caution.

In my line of work I can not be embroiled in scandalous business dealings. I will need proof of your identity, and it must be demonstrably current.

Are you able to supply a photo of yourself taken today to demonstrate your bonafides? I would suggest holding a piece of paper with a phrase chosen by myself would be an appropriate measure. Could you please produce same – with my favourite Bible verse – John 3:16 – written on a piece of paper – not the verse, just the words “John 3:16” will do.

I will then supply you with the information required to complete the transaction.

Regards,

Nathaniel.

I am hopeful that Dr Paul will be the first person to supply me with this photo as requested. He responded with a passport – note it’s not the same one as the version included at the top of this post… but we’ll get to the reason for that shortly…

My dear you have to understand me that i dont want to make you not to get you fund. so my good friend please as you ask me my id you can see it attach to show you that am not telling you liar.Am looking forward to hearing form you soon. Cordially yours,

Dr. Paul Acquah

This was simply not good enough for a cautious guy like me… Particularly because the name on the passport is different to Dr Paul’s name. Something doesn’t seem right…

I chose not to notice the discrepency at this stage – because this was when I got my first long phone call.

Dr Paul,

Thank you for your phone call. Though it was very late at night in my country (and I was asleep) – it put my mind at ease somewhat.

My problem is this, my great uncle was once caught up in an international transaction where things were not as they seemed. Our family has learned from this incident.

I believe you to be true to your word – but I must insist that you provide me with an undoctored photo holding a piece of paper with the words I requested (John 3:16) written on them.

If you are who you say you are I can’t see why this would be a problem. Anybody can scan and send a passport photo or doctor it to make it look legitimate. Very few people could fake the photo I’ve asked you to produce in such short notice.

I am ready, and willing, to proceed with our deal once I get the photo.

Dr Paul obviously decided that this was the time for him to strike – and he asked me for $850 via Western Union.

Thanks for the mail and the information that you supplied.

Please note that I have been able to secure the Ghana Customs Excise and Preventive Services Clearance for your consignment examination and confirmation for freight to you from the Kotoka International Airport Ghana.

They said that you are required to pay the sum of $850 only being cost of freight of the consignment before the diplomat can come over to Australia for the delivery. all you have to do to try you best do send this money because diplomat is waiting for you before he will come to you door.

This money can be sent through western union money transfer or money gram to: NAME;Mr. Emmanuel Onyekwere

ADDRESS;Accra Ghana

As soon as you send the money do send the Western Union details to me via email so that we can take the payment information to the Airport to enable them collect the money. my good friend one thing i want to assure you that i will not let you down. Remember that the diplomat will travel from Ghana to Australia to deliver the fund to you the moment this payment is received.

I will be waiting to hear from you today. i wish you nice day.

Cordially yours,

Dr. Paul Acquah

We spoke on the phone and I asked if it was possible for this $850 to be taken out of the amount he apparently owes me. For some reason it was not. I started to get a little agitated.

Hi Dr Paul,

I’m thrilled that you’ve got the documentation. I really am. But do you think I’m stupid?

You’re treating me like an idiot. I have asked for one piece of proof – and you have refused to provide it.

I can’t understand why you’re finding it so difficult to provide a photo. I will not be transferring the money without it – but once I have it I will make the transfer.

Has the diplomat booked his flights yet? Do we have a deadline?

I expect your photo to arrive as soon as is practical. If you wish to call me to discuss please do so at a time appropriate for fitting in with my schedule – and not at an unearthly hour in the morning.

Regards,

Nathaniel.

He tried to calm me down…

Dear.

Thank you very much for your mail and explanations so far. my good friend i want to assure that the photo i send to you is my photo which my inter nation passport. mygood friend i don’t no how i can explain my self to you again. all i want to assure that i will never let you down by deliver this fund to you, because i see you that you are good person that makes me being try my best all this days to see that i get all document for you.

my good friend don’t worry just go and do the payment before end of this week you fund will touch you hand. my good friend this money that coming will help you so much include you family, just be liver me that i will do it for you. Am looking forward to hearing form you soon.

Yours Friend

Dr Paul

But I was not having any of that…

Dr Paul,

Thank you for calling again last night. I assume the call I missed an hour later was also from you – I’m sorry, I was asleep and didn’t hear my phone.

Please understand that while my tone on the phone can be harsh – I require an element of trust before entering into any business arrangement.

I do understand the urgency involved in this transaction and your need for a firm commitment.

I believe that the passport is your passport – all I require is a secondary piece of confirmation featuring your photo, but one that could not possible be faked.

This is why I have asked you to produce a photo holding my favourite bible verse. If you can not do this then I can not trust you.

It is that simple.

Don’t bother calling me again if you can’t meet my conditions.

I would have thought this task rather simple when considered in the context of a multimillion dollar transaction.

Rest assured, I will look after my end of the deal once the transaction gets underway.

But I must have this photo immediately.

You will then receive your $850 transfer.

I look forward to your response.

He sought to clarify exactly why he needs this money…

Dear.

Thank you very much for your mail and explanations so far.how are you today. my good friend i have explain to you my self time to time but you did not understand me, my dear you are not give me this money to eat but i want to use to help you for your fund. once again am not eat you money. you $850 is not in my side but one thing i want to assure you that if you want to collect you fund you do what i told you to do, but if you go head send me saying many things it will not helping you to collect this fund. my good friend is not only you the person that will have send there fund since this week. but because of love i have on you makes me live all am doing in my office help you..

my dear all this thing you are saying it will not help. my dear am not use you money to do any thing if you like send the money if you did not like don’t not send that is only business because i have explain my self to you but you do want to understand me. as am talking to you now very arrangement have do to deliver this fund to you but you have make very thing to be prolong. so my dear try to understand that am help you am not come to scam you money or eat you money but if you go head say many thing it will not help you.

Am looking forward to hearing form you soon.

yours Friend

Dr Paul

This is getting nowhere. Where is my photo… and who eats money anyway?

Dr Paul,

Until you provide me the proof I have asked for I will not believe you. These are just words you are using to persuade me.

I don’t think I ever suggested you would “eat” the money. I will not send you the money until you send me a second photo, with the sign I have requested.

You are either not understanding what I am saying – or not listening.

Produce a photo or I will not believe that you are who you say you are.

We had a pretty heated phone call after this – where I demanded the proof. I told him to put up or shut up. And I played my trump card. He claimed to be Dr Paul Acquah – and yet he sent me a passport for an Emmanuel Onyekwere as his proof – and asked me to send money to the same name.

I smelt a rat. After the phone call he sent me this email:

“Dear.

Thank you very once again. my dear you are not understand me too. my dear i live all am doing in my office try my best to help you but you do want to understand me. my dear i have proof my self to you but you do want to understand me. my dear don’t no what i will do for you again.. if you like i can send me the photo of you fund you can see you by you self. my dear you are make very thing to be prolong just do what i told you to do and live all this you are saying because it will not help you out by get this fund. i have explain my self to you but you do want to understand me. my dear if you did not want this fund just tell me because i have many people like you i live all their fund and look only your but you don’t want to understand me.my friend try follow my word you will not going to have any problem.Am looking forward to hearing form you soon.

Yours Friend

Dr Paul”

And I sent him this one… I heard nothing from him for a number of days afterwards…

Dr Paul.

Here are the facts. I will not be sending you the money for this transfer until you clear up the following and provide the proof I have asked for.

1. You have sent me a passport for Mr Emmanuel Onyekwere.

2. You have asked me to transfer money to the same person.

3. You have phoned me three times claiming to be Dr Paul Acquah.

4. You have sent me no identification to back up your claim to be Dr Paul Acquah.

5. I have asked repeatedly for a photo of you, holding a sign, as evidence of your legitimacy.

You have refused to provide it. On these basis I can only assume that you are either: 1. A terrible, terrible con man who has no idea how to run your own business.

2. Stupid.

3. Confused.

4. Trying to cover up your real identity with a cover story because of the dangers involved in assisting me to access my money.

5. Someone with multiple personality disorder.

6. I might be mistaken.

If it is option 4 – then I must assure you that I will not reveal the details of our transaction to anybody – but I must insist that you provide me with the photograph before we go any further.

You are sailing dangerously close to missing out on the 30% share of the funds that I was going to provide you – and I certainly won’t be transferring this money to you until you provide a photograph as requested.

He finally replied.

Thank you for your mail and sorry for my late response. I want you to understand that the identification for Emmanuel happens to be what I felt you requested for, based on the fact that he is the one to receive the money.

But nevertheless, I will be sending you my own personal identification as soon as I get to my office, as am writing this from the house at this moment due to the week end.

Still the same, I want you to understand that this transaction is legally binded and have absolutely nothing to do with what you might be thinking, so do have such though deleted from your mind. Thank you for your understanding.

Dr.Paul

I started to wonder if the barrier to getting my photo might be the Bible reference – so I asked him for something else.

“Hi Dr Paul,

I trust you had a good weekend – I look forward to receiving both your passport and a second photo corroborating your passport – a photo of you holding a piece of paper with the words “Robot in Disguise” would be suitable.

I saw Transformers 2 last night. I enjoyed it.

Regards,

Nathaniel”

And he sent me the passport photo included at the top of this post. I’m still waiting for my photo. He’s still waiting for his money. We are at an impasse.

Dear emailer

Please don’t feel compelled to open your missive to me with a joke. Particularly a joke that is not funny. Just get to the point.

That is all.

The chips are down

I have made passing reference to the fact that I engage in a series of emailed conversations with my friends Ben, Paul and James. These conversations keep me sane. James was the guy who looked like the guy who eats scorpions – although if like me your workplace blocks Facebook there’s only one photo in that post so you’ll just have to picture him as that guy with the scorpions. Ben has been written about so many times that his name appears as one of the most used tags on this site. Paul, well, you don’t want to see a photo of Paul or have me talk much about him. Lets just call him a man of mystery.

Anyway, today’s discussions rest on potato chips – well that and the infinitely more painful subject of how cool iPhones are. That’s painful for me. I don’t have one. More specifically we’re discussing the superior brand and variety of potato chip.

Based solely on brand and not taking flavour into account my list is as follows*:

1. Pringles
2. Tasty Jacks
3. Red Rock Deli
4. Kettles
5. Smiths crinkle cut

*Potato chips only – doritos and CCs are a different category entirely.

Any advances on this list? Favourite flavours that I should consider in expanding the list to include finer details?

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Censored

Apparently some students from Washington State University were less than happy having their accidental emails to yours truly posted online. Something about privacy issues, stalkers and the like. I’d post the email I received from the student, and the lecturer – but they would probably feel violated. I have removed names and student numbers from the original post. I don’t like censorship – I’m a freedom of speech advocate myself. Did you know that Australia has no constitutionally enshrined “freedom of speech” we’ve just stolen the concept from the US. Interesting stuff really – censorship can be a necessary evil, obviously certain sections of society need to be restricted from accessing particular content. A lot of Christians are pro-censorship when it comes to areas like the arts without really thinking through the issue – what if one day censorship swung around and tried to restrict religious discussion (ala the “Catch the Fire Ministries” court case on religious vilification) – we can’t have our proverbial cake and eat it too at that point – you’re either with free speech or you’re against free speech.

One person who probably should be censored is Joe. His blog is a fine example of that which we should be seeking to keep out of the hands of innocents. There are probably a number of things that really should be censored like Channel 7’s Sunrise program which last week ran an obviously fake photo of the Strand in Townsville under flood water believing it to be real. I emailed them several times seeking a retraction on behalf of Townsville’s tourism industry and they ignored me. Channel Nine ran the Sunrise story in their news bulletin last night after we got Tourism Queensland to put out a statement about the photoshopped picture. Funny stuff.

I was going to write about political activism and piracy (the nautical kind) but I’ll leave that until this afternoon or something.