Perfectly meaningless: can you top these vacuous COVID-19 emails?

Of course your inbox is full of virus-driven emails. And of course they mostly suck. By now, most companies have sent their stupid email and then learned to shut up. But not all of them.

If you have nothing to say in this difficult time, say nothing.

It’s rare that I see an email that is perfectly empty — with no meaning whatsoever. Usually there is some particle of relevance. But in these difficult times, some companies have gone well beyond to create communication that is as close to a vacuum as physically possible.

FirstService Residential wants to keep you safe . . . or something

FirstService Residential is “the leading residential property management company in North America.” Could it also the a contender for the most meaningless email ever sent during the global pandemic? See for yourself:

We are all about community at FirstService Residential.

As the leading residential property management company in North America, our business is building and managing happy, healthy, expertly run communities.

And so, the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) is something we take very seriously.

We know it is creating concern, uncertainty and anxiety for everyone. It has impacted nearly every aspect of our lives and is changing every day.

But we have been through challenging times before. And, especially during those times, our core values inform the decisions we make and our unwavering commitment to our associates, clients, communities, and partners remains true.

I’m sorry, I feel asleep. Unwavering commitment to what? Still hoping for a reason to read this email.

Please know that:

• Our entire leadership team is working diligently to address the needs of our communities, adapting our protocols and processes and monitoring the latest guidance from city, state and national health authorities and governments.

• As we adjust our policies to care for them, our associates have been asked to put “care for each other” at the top of their lists. This includes the ability to donate unused PTO time to colleagues who may have to deal directly with cases of coronavirus among their loved ones.

• To support our communities, we are leveraging all of our resources – our significant scale, established workforce, operational expertise, proprietary technology, collective buying power, and 24/7 Customer Care Center – to deliver peace of mind to boards, owners and residents in this difficult period.

You’re watching the news, asking people to be nice and share vacation time, and “leveraging” resources to deliver peace of mind. Feeling anything yet? Still nothing for me.

We believe a knowledgeable, accurate and measured response is most critical at this time. For the community at large, it is important that we all heed the CDC’s guidance for social distancing.

Together, we can change the trajectory of this disease and protect the more vulnerable among us.

We also ask that support be provided to the frontline workforce, first responders, healthcare workers and teachers as they work every day to keep our systems intact.

This pandemic has brought new meaning to our mission to deliver exceptional service and solutions.

It remains more important than ever. We have seen our teams rally around this mission and, for that, I am deeply grateful.

Thank you. And be well!


Perfect emptiness. Crystal clarity, unmuddied by any reason whatsoever to read it. A total waste of 352 words. Amazing!

But FirstService Residential is not the only contender.

Canadian Tire Bank is there for you

What do you want to hear from your bank right now? Maybe “Your money is safe,” “We can give you a low-interest loan,” and “If you have to do business in person, here’s a way to do it.”

Or, you could hear this:

Subject: COVID-19 – How we are here to help.

To our Valued Customers,

I know there is growing concern around COVID‑19 as the events over the past couple of weeks have been unprecedented. Many people are feeling uneasy, especially as we face more changes to our daily routines and future plans. If you are directly impacted by COVID‑19 and as a result are facing financial challenges, we are prepared to help you find a solution to meet your needs. We want to be there for you.

Well, that sounds encouraging. If you lost your job or had extra expenses, the bank is ready to help!

Our team is committed to ensuring the highest level of customer service to you. In light of the precautions we are taking to keep our employees safe, however, there is a risk of extended wait times at our call centre over the coming weeks. While we will continue to do our best to meet your needs, please bear with us should service levels deteriorate as we navigate these changing and challenging times. And, as always, our website and our retail banking website are available to support your account servicing needs.

Wait. So your commitment to help is that your customer service is getting worse?

I know that your main priorities are keeping your families safe and ensuring that your essential needs are met. I want to thank you for trusting us with your business and our team and I will do our utmost to
continue to earn your trust.


Mahes S. Wickramasinghe
President and Chief Executive Officer

Nice. That’s about as satisfying as a big juicy air sandwich and a tall glass of absolutely nothing at all.

Honestly people. We’re scared to death. We’re scared out parents will die, that we’ll lose our jobs, that the economy will crash, that we won’t be allowed out of our houses for six months. It is scary as hell.

Your vacuous emails are hardly even entertaining.

If you have nothing to say, say nothing. We have enough to worry about.

On the other hand, if you have received an email worse than these, send it to me or paste it into a comment below. Because we all need a good laugh.

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  1. Oh, Josh, this is music to my ears. I have lost count of the number of pompous emails I have received from similar organisations telling me, in several paragraphs, what I already know from the media about coronavirus and by now it’s out of date anyway. Then the bullshit about how terrible this all is and how much they care and how they’re going to nix the following services…
    The more I read these emails, and articles like yours about how fatuous those are, the more I’m glad I dumped corporate communications and content marketing and moved over to realms of book writing and publishing … at least when people write bullshit – good bullshit – it’s called fiction. Not corporate twaddle.
    Keep up the good work of exposing such hypocrisy.
    Sz xx

  2. I got an email from the company that repaired the ding in my windshield last year. It isn’t about what the email said (because honestly I didn’t read it), just …. why? I’m not exactly planning on getting another windshield ding, crisis or no. This was truly (I hope) a one-time transaction. So why, dear heavens, email me about the crisis?

    Yes, this is uncharted territory, but common sense should still prevail. The exploitative emails bother me more than the unnecessary ones, though.

  3. I’ve recieved emails from a wide variety of businesses that I didn’t expect, many small businesses who are trying to stay connected, and I admire them for it (yes with a lot of blah blah included). Although it wasn’t top of mind to run to the plaster painting place during COVID-19, kudos to them for thinking about their customers.

    However I’ve gotten emails that have just amazed me:
    – one local business saying hey come out and host a party with us Friday night, we have availability and discounts (out of their minds!)
    – city newsletter stating all the fun activities planned (didn’t they think to change, delay or cancel that recurring communication?)
    – natural medicine centers saying they are still open and safe (does non-essential ring a bell?)

    Missing emails:
    – from all my travel loyalty programs telling me not to worry about my status this year!

    It’s definitely a learning curve moment for many.

    1. Correction! Hilton came through last night extending their loyalty deadlines. First truly worthwhile COVID response email received.

  4. Ask yourself: If I didn’t get an email from , would I have even noticed? Probably not. Not one of these emails has given me new information – something I hadn’t already heard or, frankly, already figured out on my own.

  5. “This includes the ability to donate unused PTO to colleagues…” – does this mean that instead letting Joe take a few extra days off under extenuating circumstances, another coworker can have the privilege of donating *their* PTO to Joe?

    If so, wow. Care for each other, sure, but under no circumstances should it affect the bottom line (eyeroll). Shouldn’t model behavior start at the top of the hierarchy? Hopefully I misunderstood the memo.

  6. Jane, right!

    Asking the employees to do the “donating” instead of the company. Do they even understand how cheap that makes them look?

    I’d like to think the company is doing what the can to keep employees on the payroll, but a statement like this says the opposite.