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Accidental 'reply-all' emails can cause considerable heartache

Published: Monday, Aug. 31 2015 6:44 p.m. MDT

To avoid sending embarrassing emails out to the whole company, Microsoft has created a plug-in option to avoid an inadvertent "reply-all" click. (Shutterstock.com) To avoid sending embarrassing emails out to the whole company, Microsoft has created a plug-in option to avoid an inadvertent "reply-all" click. (Shutterstock.com)

Ever had the stomach-dropping realization that an email you meant to send to only a few people was actually delivered to every single person in your company?

You're not alone.

Bill Cochran, an advertising creative director for the Richards Group, sent an email — meant for his boss — to about 200 other employees after he accidentally hit "reply all" instead of sending the message just to his boss. In the email he proceeded to name colleagues who he thought were fit for producing Super Bowl spots — and which employees weren't, according to a Wall Street Journal article.

Gustavo Reveles, a Navy veteran, has been in the same boat. He sent off an email with offensive wording to more than just his colleague. The email resulted in him being fired from his two-decade career at the U.S. Border Patrol, according to Businessweek.

Being fired from a job isn't the only consequence that could result from sending a reply-all email — loss of sleep; upset employees, family members or friends that could also ensue.

Occasionally when a "reply-all" mistake happens, many others start clicking "reply all," clogging the system with millions of emails, according to the Wall Street Journal. This was the case for Microsoft in 1997 and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in 2007.

To avoid a miss click, some companies, such as Nielsen, a global information and measurement firm, have made the button inactive. It can be activated through an override function on the keyboard, according to Businessweek.

"Microsoft introduced a plug-in option on its 'Outlook' program called 'NoReplyAll,' which allows senders to prevent recipients from Replying All to their messages," wrote Mike Rosenwald, journalist from Businessweek.

Some programs even alert senders if they click "reply all."

Email: ehong@desnews.com Twitter: @erinhong

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