Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => All In A Day's Work => Topic started by: lellah on September 04, 2013, 04:29:27 PM

Title: Why didn't I congratulate you?
Post by: lellah on September 04, 2013, 04:29:27 PM
I had a client who called recently to update her name in our files.  Per company policy, we need to receive copies of certain legal documents, including a marriage license and a form emailed or faxed to a particular admin.  I said that I'd be happy to assist her with the name change, advised her of the process and its time frame, and inquired whether she had any questions. 

Yes, she said, why didn't you congratulate me?

I gaped like a fish at that.  I don't know her socially.  It's sort of weird--by traditional standards anyway--to congratulate a woman on her marriage.  She was calling about our business relationship.  She'd been married six months ago.  All good reasons not to bring it up, right?

Anyway, I mustered poise enough to say something about wishing her and Mr Whomever the very best. 

She freaked out at that and demanded to speak to my boss about how terribly rude I'd been, saying things like "would it kill that b-word to say 'congratulations' like a human being?"

Was I wrong not to acknowledge her marriage when I spoke to her about making the name change?  Or was she being sort of a SS?  Or were we both a bit off?
Title: Re: Why didn't I congratulate you?
Post by: LeveeWoman on September 04, 2013, 04:34:40 PM
I had a client who called recently to update her name in our files.  Per company policy, we need to receive copies of certain legal documents, including a marriage license and a form emailed or faxed to a particular admin.  I said that I'd be happy to assist her with the name change, advised her of the process and its time frame, and inquired whether she had any questions. 

Yes, she said, why didn't you congratulate me?

I gaped like a fish at that.  I don't know her socially.  It's sort of weird--by traditional standards anyway--to congratulate a woman on her marriage.  She was calling about our business relationship.  She'd been married six months ago.  All good reasons not to bring it up, right?

Anyway, I mustered poise enough to say something about wishing her and Mr Whomever the very best. 

She freaked out at that and demanded to speak to my boss about how terribly rude I'd been, saying things like "would it kill that b-word to say 'congratulations' like a human being?"

Was I wrong not to acknowledge her marriage when I spoke to her about making the name change?  Or was she being sort of a SS?  Or were we both a bit off?

She's a nut!
Title: Re: Why didn't I congratulate you?
Post by: Zizi-K on September 04, 2013, 04:34:47 PM
The woman sounds like a total nutjob. Yes, you could have said 'congratulations', but if it were me I wouldn't have noticed the omission. I hope your boss backs you up. She had no reason to freak out about it.
Title: Re: Why didn't I congratulate you?
Post by: Hillia on September 04, 2013, 04:36:14 PM
She's a whackjob.  Good heavens, it's a  business transaction, not a social event.  As long as you handled her request politely and efficiently, that's all that's required. 

Would it have been nice to say congratulations?  Sure. But it's not required.  Some people *hate* social chitchat when they're doing a business transaction; even 'nice weather today, isn't it?' will set them off.  If there's a long line of people waiting, stopping to chat with each one will cause the 8th person to seethe at the unnecessary delay.  Let it go; I hope your boss did.
Title: Re: Why didn't I congratulate you?
Post by: veronaz on September 04, 2013, 04:43:29 PM
She's a loon. 

That would be like when I picked up a prescription a while back the pharmacy asked me to verify my DOB - which happened to be that day.  She just said "Oh!  Today." and smiled, I winked and smiled, but should I have demanded a "Happy Birthday to you"?  Um, no.   ::)
Title: Re: Why didn't I congratulate you?
Post by: Poppea on September 04, 2013, 05:01:39 PM
She was absurd.
Title: Re: Why didn't I congratulate you?
Post by: Arila on September 04, 2013, 05:08:36 PM
I also vote SS to the max!

Besides, unless she had announced that the name change was due to marriage, it could have been due to divorce (or as recently happened at work, sex change !!), which is not something you would generally "congratulate" people on...
Title: Re: Why didn't I congratulate you?
Post by: TeamBhakta on September 04, 2013, 05:13:32 PM
She's probably trolling for a "we just got married" perk / discount / gift
Title: Re: Why didn't I congratulate you?
Post by: BarensMom on September 04, 2013, 05:18:36 PM
My mother raised me to say "congratulations" to a groom but not to a bride.  One used "best wishes" or some other platitude to the bride.  Mom said that to say "congratulations" to a bride was an insult.

Therefore, based on my mother's criteria, the OP was actually being properly polite.
Title: Re: Why didn't I congratulate you?
Post by: Hmmmmm on September 04, 2013, 05:28:15 PM
"I do not know the circumstances of your marriage, so I was unaware if Congratulations were appropriate."

A loon and complete loon.
Title: Re: Why didn't I congratulate you?
Post by: EMuir on September 04, 2013, 05:34:14 PM
Er... it could have been a name change due to DIVORCE.  Which would have made a "Congratulations" rather awkward.
Title: Re: Why didn't I congratulate you?
Post by: NyaChan on September 04, 2013, 05:55:30 PM
I think someone's missing all the "It's MY day" attention - six months have gone by, get over it already.  You were completely fine in the way you acted.  This woman was seriously out of line.
Title: Re: Why didn't I congratulate you?
Post by: daen on September 04, 2013, 06:00:02 PM
Er... it could have been a name change due to DIVORCE.  Which would have made a "Congratulations" rather awkward.

OP referred to the need to send in a marriage license in the first post, so presumably the fact that it was a marriage had been established already.

The lady with the marriage license and the attitude is a loon.
Title: Re: Why didn't I congratulate you?
Post by: Luci on September 04, 2013, 06:33:00 PM
"I do not know the circumstances of your marriage, so I was unaware if Congratulations were appropriate."

A loon and complete loon.

OK. You win! I laughed out loud. This a sincere LOL, not an automatic LOL which should really just be a smiley face  :)

Now that I think about, you guys never congradulated me on our marriage, the births of our children, their marriages, each of our grandchildren, any of our anniversaries or our birthdays.................... or never mind, I'm tired.
Title: Re: Why didn't I congratulate you?
Post by: jayhawk on September 04, 2013, 07:41:31 PM
I think someone's missing all the "It's MY day" attention - six months have gone by, get over it already.  You were completely fine in the way you acted.  This woman was seriously out of line.

This.
Title: Re: Why didn't I congratulate you?
Post by: FoxPaws on September 04, 2013, 07:53:47 PM
Since I'm not the one who had to deal with this person directly (my sympathies to you, lellah) I can afford to feel sorry for her.

How pathetic that she needs to demand social niceties from random service providers. Something is missing in this woman's life...and it isn't just well wishes from  total strangers.
Title: Re: Why didn't I congratulate you?
Post by: Winterlight on September 04, 2013, 08:10:33 PM
My mother raised me to say "congratulations" to a groom but not to a bride.  One used "best wishes" or some other platitude to the bride.  Mom said that to say "congratulations" to a bride was an insult.

Therefore, based on my mother's criteria, the OP was actually being properly polite.

This is correct. Congratulations was said to imply that the bride had bagged a man.
Title: Re: Why didn't I congratulate you?
Post by: MrTango on September 04, 2013, 08:12:39 PM
My mother raised me to say "congratulations" to a groom but not to a bride.  One used "best wishes" or some other platitude to the bride.  Mom said that to say "congratulations" to a bride was an insult.

Therefore, based on my mother's criteria, the OP was actually being properly polite.

This is correct. Congratulations was said to imply that the bride had bagged a man.

That seems like a rather sexist notion.
Title: Re: Why didn't I congratulate you?
Post by: Danika on September 04, 2013, 08:23:50 PM
My mother raised me to say "congratulations" to a groom but not to a bride.  One used "best wishes" or some other platitude to the bride.  Mom said that to say "congratulations" to a bride was an insult.

Therefore, based on my mother's criteria, the OP was actually being properly polite.

This is correct. Congratulations was said to imply that the bride had bagged a man.

That seems like a rather sexist notion.

I agree. Which is why, despite the fact that I've heard the ancient etiquette rule against wishing a bride congratulations, I say it to both grooms and brides alike.

OP, I think the woman was a rude SS. Especially to call you the b word. Did she say that purposely within your earshot?

If you had noticed, it would have been nice for you to say "oh, congrats" but you didn't have to, and she surely shouldn't have confronted you about it.
Title: Re: Why didn't I congratulate you?
Post by: Marguette on September 04, 2013, 08:48:43 PM
But donít congratulate the next client who goes through the same process as this lady, or they will like as not lay into you for getting personal in what should be only a business transaction!
Title: Re: Why didn't I congratulate you?
Post by: veronaz on September 04, 2013, 08:55:59 PM
Imagine what her DH will endure if he ever forgets their anniversary.
Title: Re: Why didn't I congratulate you?
Post by: Allyson on September 04, 2013, 09:41:48 PM
Imagine what her DH will endure if he ever forgets their anniversary.

I snorted out loud at that!

Also, wow, the things you learn. I had never ever heard saying 'congratulations' to a bride was rude, and that one was only supposed to say it to the groom! I would never have guessed that or figured out why.
Title: Re: Why didn't I congratulate you?
Post by: LeveeWoman on September 04, 2013, 10:19:58 PM
My mother raised me to say "congratulations" to a groom but not to a bride.  One used "best wishes" or some other platitude to the bride.  Mom said that to say "congratulations" to a bride was an insult.

Therefore, based on my mother's criteria, the OP was actually being properly polite.

This is correct. Congratulations was said to imply that the bride had bagged a man.

That seems like a rather sexist notion.

Yes, it is. However, that idea is still prevalent in many quaters.
Title: Re: Why didn't I congratulate you?
Post by: nuit93 on September 04, 2013, 11:05:18 PM
People change their names for all sorts of reasons-marriage, divorce, gender change (a longtime friend and coworker of mine is transitioning and our workplace has been really great about it), or just plain not liking their given name.

I think the lady overreacted.
Title: Re: Why didn't I congratulate you?
Post by: BarensMom on September 05, 2013, 12:27:53 AM
My mother raised me to say "congratulations" to a groom but not to a bride.  One used "best wishes" or some other platitude to the bride.  Mom said that to say "congratulations" to a bride was an insult.

Therefore, based on my mother's criteria, the OP was actually being properly polite.

This is correct. Congratulations was said to imply that the bride had bagged a man.

That seems like a rather sexist notion.

Yes, it is. However, that idea is still prevalent in many quaters.

Momma was from the Old South.
Title: Re: Why didn't I congratulate you?
Post by: greencat on September 05, 2013, 02:32:17 AM
I actually usually wish callers a happy birthday when I have to verify their DOB for a process and it's sometime within the last week or within the next week.  Likewise, I frequently congratulate them if they mention some major life event like a wedding or birth of a child.  I specifically do it because I feel like it helps remind people that they are talking to a real human being and not a robot and it makes them treat me a bit better.  It's more social engineering than honest sentiment, but it makes everyone involved happy. 
Title: Re: Why didn't I congratulate you?
Post by: camlan on September 05, 2013, 06:28:09 AM
My mother raised me to say "congratulations" to a groom but not to a bride.  One used "best wishes" or some other platitude to the bride.  Mom said that to say "congratulations" to a bride was an insult.

Therefore, based on my mother's criteria, the OP was actually being properly polite.

This is correct. Congratulations was said to imply that the bride had bagged a man.

That seems like a rather sexist notion.

The explanation I heard about "congratulations" was that for a very long time, from at least the medieval ages on, when a woman got married, all her property and money became her husband's. So you congratulated him on marrying so well, if his bride brought substantial property to the marriage. On the other hand, all you could wish the bride was "best wishes" in the hopes that her husband wouldn't squander what had been her dowry.

This could be apocryphal.
Title: Re: Why didn't I congratulate you?
Post by: GrammarNerd on September 05, 2013, 08:51:57 AM
What did your boss say after she "reported" you?
Title: Re: Why didn't I congratulate you?
Post by: *inviteseller on September 05, 2013, 09:26:41 AM
You need to post this one on customers suck!  This woman just thinks she is so special and is upset that the world doesn't share the same view.
Title: Re: Why didn't I congratulate you?
Post by: PrettySticks on September 05, 2013, 10:28:01 AM
This is so timely to me, because when I got married a couple of months ago and was changing my name everywhere, every place I called they would automatically say "Congratulations!"  And because I have kind of a twisted sense of humor I would think (but never say, don't worry!) "How do they know this is a good thing?  Maybe it's a shotgun wedding!  Maybe my boyfriend lost me in a bet!  Maybe my father traded me for meth money!"  Thankfully, it's none of those things.  But because every single credit card/bank card/document/what-have-you had a completely different method for changing my name, I would typically start these calls with "So I just got married, and I need to change the name on my card...?" at which point I would get the "Congratulations!"  But in a couple of instances, I just started with "I need to change my name" and I still got a congrats.  I found that super amusing - what if it was a divorce, or something else?  (Running from the law, maybe?)

Anyway, I certainly didn't care that someone congratulated me, but I wouldn't have taken offense if they hadn't.  In fact, I would have found that more normal.  In short: this client was a nutter.
Title: Re: Why didn't I congratulate you?
Post by: SCMagnolia on September 05, 2013, 10:33:34 AM
Quote
Imagine what her DH will endure if he ever forgets their anniversary.

Or her birthday, or any other day she deems as "special."

If she's 6 months past her wedding and still demanding congratulations, can you imagine how much of a bridezilla she was in the 6 months leading up to the blessed event?

Wow.   :o

Title: Re: Why didn't I congratulate you?
Post by: Pen^2 on September 05, 2013, 11:05:14 AM
What a nutter!

And insisting that someone say "congratulations" is like telling them to say "thank you": it renders it meaningless if you have to ask. But 6 months after the fact? To a complete stranger who knows nothing about the marriage?

She's got a few screws loose.
Title: Re: Why didn't I congratulate you?
Post by: TootsNYC on September 05, 2013, 02:41:11 PM
My mother raised me to say "congratulations" to a groom but not to a bride.  One used "best wishes" or some other platitude to the bride.  Mom said that to say "congratulations" to a bride was an insult.

Therefore, based on my mother's criteria, the OP was actually being properly polite.

This is correct. Congratulations was said to imply that the bride had bagged a man.

That seems like a rather sexist notion.

It was a sexist notion--which is precisely why it was considered rude to say.

But when it came about, that was actually the truth--a woman getting married was exactly analogous to a guy landing his dream job. She now had someone who would provide money for her, etc.
   But to congratulate her would acknowledge that ugly truth. That's why it was rude.
    it also implied that she was *lucky* to be getting married, as if she had to do something special to get anybody to marry her. Rude to imply to a woman, especially since she really couldn't ask someone else.

But not so rude to imply to a man, since he was in the position of supplicant, and there's sort of a cultural bias that men are not necessarily automatically appealing. (For one thing, he can make up for being unappealing by being able to own property, etc.) So it's OK to imply that he's lucky anybody wanted to marry him. Because he didn't *need* to get married.

Title: Re: Why didn't I congratulate you?
Post by: hobish on September 05, 2013, 02:49:59 PM
This is so timely to me, because when I got married a couple of months ago and was changing my name everywhere, every place I called they would automatically say "Congratulations!"  And because I have kind of a twisted sense of humor I would think (but never say, don't worry!) "How do they know this is a good thing?  Maybe it's a shotgun wedding!  Maybe my boyfriend lost me in a bet!  Maybe my father traded me for meth money!"  Thankfully, it's none of those things.  But because every single credit card/bank card/document/what-have-you had a completely different method for changing my name, I would typically start these calls with "So I just got married, and I need to change the name on my card...?" at which point I would get the "Congratulations!"  But in a couple of instances, I just started with "I need to change my name" and I still got a congrats.  I found that super amusing - what if it was a divorce, or something else?  (Running from the law, maybe?)

Anyway, I certainly didn't care that someone congratulated me, but I wouldn't have taken offense if they hadn't.  In fact, I would have found that more normal.  In short: this client was a nutter.

 ;D I like your sense of humor, and admire your restraint.
...and agree the client was a nutter.

Title: Re: Why didn't I congratulate you?
Post by: CocoCamm on September 05, 2013, 04:20:26 PM
I actually usually wish callers a happy birthday when I have to verify their DOB for a process and it's sometime within the last week or within the next week.  Likewise, I frequently congratulate them if they mention some major life event like a wedding or birth of a child.  I specifically do it because I feel like it helps remind people that they are talking to a real human being and not a robot and it makes them treat me a bit better.  It's more social engineering than honest sentiment, but it makes everyone involved happy.

I always do the same. It just seems friendlier. Not to mention it gives you something to chat about while the computer does it's thing.

OP, I don't think you were rude to not say anything but if you work in customer service you may want to consider adding more of a personal touch to your calls. Not because this woman was right but I find that being friendly can make all the difference when dealing with difficult people.
Title: Re: Why didn't I congratulate you?
Post by: CrazyDaffodilLady on September 05, 2013, 05:08:40 PM
The correct thing to do would be to ask for the husband and wish him the very best of luck.  He's going to need it.
Title: Re: Why didn't I congratulate you?
Post by: TeamBhakta on September 05, 2013, 05:49:06 PM
The correct thing to do would be to ask for the husband and wish him the very best of luck.  He's going to need it.

I'm sure his next wife will quietly remind him "Honey, it's Nutty Ex's birthday next week. And I think you are due for an out of town fishing trip soon...."
Title: Re: Why didn't I congratulate you?
Post by: Phoebe on September 05, 2013, 06:57:45 PM
I had a client who called recently to update her name in our files.  Per company policy, we need to receive copies of certain legal documents, including a marriage license and a form emailed or faxed to a particular admin.  I said that I'd be happy to assist her with the name change, advised her of the process and its time frame, and inquired whether she had any questions. 

Yes, she said, why didn't you congratulate me?

I gaped like a fish at that.  I don't know her socially.  It's sort of weird--by traditional standards anyway--to congratulate a woman on her marriage.  She was calling about our business relationship.  She'd been married six months ago.  All good reasons not to bring it up, right?

Anyway, I mustered poise enough to say something about wishing her and Mr Whomever the very best. 

She freaked out at that and demanded to speak to my boss about how terribly rude I'd been, saying things like "would it kill that b-word to say 'congratulations' like a human being?"

Was I wrong not to acknowledge her marriage when I spoke to her about making the name change?  Or was she being sort of a SS?  Or were we both a bit off?

I can't stop laughing at the hypocrisy of that statement to your boss!  "That b* was impolite to me!  Make her be nice to me! (stomp stomp stomp)"   What a looney-tune! 
Title: Re: Why didn't I congratulate you?
Post by: Winterlight on September 07, 2013, 01:41:27 PM
Not to mention the obscenities and namecalling to get someone else to be "nice" to her.
Title: Re: Why didn't I congratulate you?
Post by: Jocelyn on September 07, 2013, 10:54:59 PM
The explanation I heard about "congratulations" was that for a very long time, from at least the medieval ages on, when a woman got married, all her property and money became her husband's. So you congratulated him on marrying so well, if his bride brought substantial property to the marriage. On the other hand, all you could wish the bride was "best wishes" in the hopes that her husband wouldn't squander what had been her dowry.

This could be apocryphal.
I was told that 'congratulations' went to a person who had achieved some accomplishment, and it was offered to grooms because they had persuaded their intendeds to accept their proposal of matrimony. One wished the bride happiness, since it was assumed that she had done nothing to lure the groom into marriage. And yes, even back in the day, no one believed that brides did nothing to persuade their fiances to propose.  ::)
Title: Re: Why didn't I congratulate you?
Post by: LifeOnPluto on September 08, 2013, 12:16:12 AM
The explanation I heard about "congratulations" was that for a very long time, from at least the medieval ages on, when a woman got married, all her property and money became her husband's. So you congratulated him on marrying so well, if his bride brought substantial property to the marriage. On the other hand, all you could wish the bride was "best wishes" in the hopes that her husband wouldn't squander what had been her dowry.

This could be apocryphal.
I was told that 'congratulations' went to a person who had achieved some accomplishment, and it was offered to grooms because they had persuaded their intendeds to accept their proposal of matrimony. One wished the bride happiness, since it was assumed that she had done nothing to lure the groom into marriage. And yes, even back in the day, no one believed that brides did nothing to persuade their fiances to propose.  ::)

Yep, this is what I've heard too.

On topic, what a weird woman! She berated you for not saying "Congratulations", but when you did say "best wishes", she still went over the edge! I suspect she was spoiling for a fight. If you HAD congratulated her at the outset, she probably would have berated you for being presumptuous or something.

I hope your boss backed you up.
Title: Re: Why didn't I congratulate you?
Post by: Iris on September 08, 2013, 02:02:31 AM
I had a client who called recently to update her name in our files.  Per company policy, we need to receive copies of certain legal documents, including a marriage license and a form emailed or faxed to a particular admin.  I said that I'd be happy to assist her with the name change, advised her of the process and its time frame, and inquired whether she had any questions. 

Yes, she said, why didn't you congratulate me?

I gaped like a fish at that.  I don't know her socially.  It's sort of weird--by traditional standards anyway--to congratulate a woman on her marriage.  She was calling about our business relationship.  She'd been married six months ago.  All good reasons not to bring it up, right?

Anyway, I mustered poise enough to say something about wishing her and Mr Whomever the very best. 

She freaked out at that and demanded to speak to my boss about how terribly rude I'd been, saying things like "would it kill that b-word to say 'congratulations' like a human being?"

Was I wrong not to acknowledge her marriage when I spoke to her about making the name change?  Or was she being sort of a SS?  Or were we both a bit off?

I can't stop laughing at the hypocrisy of that statement to your boss!  "That b* was impolite to me!  Make her be nice to me! (stomp stomp stomp)"   What a looney-tune!

That made me giggle, too.
Title: Re: Why didn't I congratulate you?
Post by: BarensMom on September 08, 2013, 10:15:36 AM
OP, did Nutter go to your boss and what happened next?
Title: Re: Why didn't I congratulate you?
Post by: lellah on September 09, 2013, 10:08:37 PM
OP, did Nutter go to your boss and what happened next?

My boss said placidly "I'll speak to her about it."  Then she did, saying something like "hey, I hear some woman called you a (b-word) for not saying congratulations even though she got married in 1952.  And I told her I'd talk to you.  I like that shirt."
Title: Re: Why didn't I congratulate you?
Post by: Mental Magpie on September 09, 2013, 10:13:47 PM
OP, did Nutter go to your boss and what happened next?

My boss said placidly "I'll speak to her about it."  Then she did, saying something like "hey, I hear some woman called you a (b-word) for not saying congratulations even though she got married in 1952.  And I told her I'd talk to you.  I like that shirt."

I've used that approach!  "I said I would talk to you, I just didn't say about what.  Do you think the new uniform will work?"
Title: Re: Why didn't I congratulate you?
Post by: Pen^2 on September 09, 2013, 10:20:16 PM
Lellah, I like your boss :)
Title: Re: Why didn't I congratulate you?
Post by: cabbageweevil on September 10, 2013, 08:58:08 AM
I was told that 'congratulations' went to a person who had achieved some accomplishment, and it was offered to grooms because they had persuaded their intendeds to accept their proposal of matrimony. One wished the bride happiness, since it was assumed that she had done nothing to lure the groom into marriage. And yes, even back in the day, no one believed that brides did nothing to persuade their fiances to propose.  ::)

Yep, this is what I've heard too.

On topic, what a weird woman! She berated you for not saying "Congratulations", but when you did say "best wishes", she still went over the edge! I suspect she was spoiling for a fight. If you HAD congratulated her at the outset, she probably would have berated you for being presumptuous or something.

I agree with PPs that the woman's behaviour re the OP, in this matter, can only be described as lunatic.  I'd perceive, however, that -- nutty though she likely was -- she was not totally alone as regards attitude to the word "Congratulations".  It seems that there is a small, but discernible, number of people who are extremely hung-up on what they see as use of that word being obligatory in certain situations -- expressing the same sentiments any other way, without specific use of the "c-word", being considered heinously rude.  Early this year, there was a thread on the eHell blog featuring this matter. It emerged there, that some people have this quite fanatical conviction about the obligatory use in some circumstances, of the "magic word": such cited, were when responding to a woman's announcement of her pregnancy; and at weddings -- in the particular example given, it was not re "say it to the groom, but not to the bride", but because the "offender" gave thanks and good wishes to the parents of the bride, but failed actually to say the "c-word".

Such very extreme sentiments regarding one particular word being used, or not used -- failure to use it, apparently seen as an etiquette violation on the level of (the most disgusting and disruptive conduct at such a gathering, that one can imagine) -- strike me as bat-poo crazy.  It would appear, though, that there are a few people -- some of them, presumably, sane in other respects -- to whom this thing is that important: and they feel that they must loudly proclaim their outrage if anyone gets it wrong.  If etiquette in general supported such "nuclear" responses, to things which were so trivial -- I would be in favour of the abolition of etiquette.
Title: Re: Why didn't I congratulate you?
Post by: poundcake on September 12, 2013, 05:31:21 AM
This is so timely to me, because when I got married a couple of months ago and was changing my name everywhere, every place I called they would automatically say "Congratulations!"  And because I have kind of a twisted sense of humor I would think (but never say, don't worry!) "How do they know this is a good thing?  Maybe it's a shotgun wedding!  Maybe my boyfriend lost me in a bet!  Maybe my father traded me for meth money!"  Thankfully, it's none of those things.  But because every single credit card/bank card/document/what-have-you had a completely different method for changing my name, I would typically start these calls with "So I just got married, and I need to change the name on my card...?" at which point I would get the "Congratulations!"  But in a couple of instances, I just started with "I need to change my name" and I still got a congrats.  I found that super amusing - what if it was a divorce, or something else?  (Running from the law, maybe?)

Anyway, I certainly didn't care that someone congratulated me, but I wouldn't have taken offense if they hadn't.  In fact, I would have found that more normal.  In short: this client was a nutter.

Plus, it's an interesting assumption that every name change should imply the person just got married and should be congratulated. What if they just got divorced? Entered the WPP? Changed a name for aesthetic reasons? Reclaimed a birth name?
Title: Re: Why didn't I congratulate you?
Post by: MOM21SON on September 13, 2013, 05:00:44 PM
I actually usually wish callers a happy birthday when I have to verify their DOB for a process and it's sometime within the last week or within the next week.  Likewise, I frequently congratulate them if they mention some major life event like a wedding or birth of a child.  I specifically do it because I feel like it helps remind people that they are talking to a real human being and not a robot and it makes them treat me a bit better.  It's more social engineering than honest sentiment, but it makes everyone involved happy.

I always do the same. It just seems friendlier. Not to mention it gives you something to chat about while the computer does it's thing.

OP, I don't think you were rude to not say anything but if you work in customer service you may want to consider adding more of a personal touch to your calls. Not because this woman was right but I find that being friendly can make all the difference when dealing with difficult people.

I would have been coached at my job if someone was listening in.  We do acknowledge when a customer makes a statement.  No matter what.

I she would have said, "I need to change my name because my husband died"  what would you have said?
Title: Re: Why didn't I congratulate you?
Post by: Winterlight on September 14, 2013, 06:38:24 PM
My mother raised me to say "congratulations" to a groom but not to a bride.  One used "best wishes" or some other platitude to the bride.  Mom said that to say "congratulations" to a bride was an insult.

Therefore, based on my mother's criteria, the OP was actually being properly polite.

This is correct. Congratulations was said to imply that the bride had bagged a man.

That seems like a rather sexist notion.

Agreed. However, when getting married was your livelihood because ladies didn't work, then congratulating her took on a nasty tinge.
Title: Re: Why didn't I congratulate you?
Post by: TaterTot on October 12, 2013, 04:57:26 PM
I actually usually wish callers a happy birthday when I have to verify their DOB for a process and it's sometime within the last week or within the next week.  Likewise, I frequently congratulate them if they mention some major life event like a wedding or birth of a child.  I specifically do it because I feel like it helps remind people that they are talking to a real human being and not a robot and it makes them treat me a bit better.  It's more social engineering than honest sentiment, but it makes everyone involved happy.

I always do the same. It just seems friendlier. Not to mention it gives you something to chat about while the computer does it's thing.

OP, I don't think you were rude to not say anything but if you work in customer service you may want to consider adding more of a personal touch to your calls. Not because this woman was right but I find that being friendly can make all the difference when dealing with difficult people.

I would have been coached at my job if someone was listening in.  We do acknowledge when a customer makes a statement.  No matter what.

I she would have said, "I need to change my name because my husband died"  what would you have said?

Apparently, the phrase in that situation is "So sorry for your loss." I had to call companies to cancel multiple subscriptions to various products and services after my dad died, and this was the phrase that I heard over and over and over and over again to the point that it started to get annoying. I never took it out on the customer service representatives, however, because they were only doing their job.
Title: Re: Why didn't I congratulate you?
Post by: sweetonsno on October 14, 2013, 07:01:08 PM
This is a really interesting topic. First off, she was clearly out of line for reacting so strongly, especially because of the complaining bit. I imagine (hope) that she was already stressed and sensitive because of something else, and you just happened to be the one who set her off. If it wasn't going to be you, it probably would have been the deli worker who put too much lettuce on her sandwich.

If she simply asked about the name change, I think not commenting on or asking about it would be the wisest option, for the reasons mentioned above. However, if she had volunteered her reasons for changing her name, I do think it's better to acknowledge it with a situation-appropriate phrase.

As for being upset at you not using the word "congratulations," might your "best wishes" have sounded sarcastic or otherwise not very nice? I'm just thinking how annoying it is to hear "I'm sorry you feel that way" or "I'm sorry you're upset" instead of "I'm sorry for [action that resulted in emotions]" or "I'm sorry that I disappointed you/hurt your feelings." For some people, this may be analogous.
Title: Re: Why didn't I congratulate you?
Post by: The TARDIS on October 18, 2013, 11:54:23 PM
Wow, so she calls you rude while referring to you as a b-word? Uhhh...OP you're fine. The caller was flying out of her mind!