Robert A. Di Ieso, Jr.
By Alison Green / Ask a Manager
October 7, 2015

Q: Is it a horrible idea for my manager to make us add an email signature that says, “Unhappy with my service? Email my boss!”? I work in a (fairly large) group of about 50 people, liaising with clients on a daily basis. Clients have always been able to ask to escalate problems and talk up the chain of command by requesting this. Typically, this is a very infrequent occurrence; as far as I know, all my customers are satisfied with my service.

However, as of the beginning of next month, the plan is that every team member will add an email signature that says: “Unhappy with my service? Email my boss!”

We all have until the start of next month to add this signature.

Am I alone in thinking this is a horrible idea? I have nothing against sharing my manager’s details and soliciting feedback, but this feels like it’s just soliciting negative feedback, and I think it’ll make clients view us as a bunch of jokers (as though not liking the service they’d received is a common occurrence).

Any ideas on how to raise this with management, as they seem kind of set on this?

A: I don’t think it’s necessarily going to encourage negative feedback, but I do think that it will make y’all seem more like cogs than experts. It’s not the kind of thing that you normally see in skilled professionals’ email signatures.

It’ll also probably make some customers uncomfortable; I know I’d feel awkward about dealing with a company that made its employees do that.

And yes, as you pointed out, it’s going to signal “we don’t hire people who we trust to do a good job.” As well as “and we’re asking you to police them for us.”

It would be interesting to know what spurred this — is there a particular pattern of problems that this is in response to? Or just someone’s random idea for what good customer service looks like?

But regardless, I agree with you — it’s a bad idea.

As for how to raise it with your management, it depends in part on your dynamic with them, but I’d say this: “I’m concerned this is at odds with the image that we work hard to present to clients — that we’re skilled professionals who they can trust. I do think we should make it easy for clients to escalate any problems, but if the current system isn’t working in that way, maybe we could brainstorm other ideas for improving that?”

Read next: 5 Things You Didn’t Know About Using Personal Email at Work

Q: I was overpaid and now I need to pay it back. Due to a payroll error by my employer, I received overpayment in my paychecks. Now they want to cut my checks or have my consent and signature on a contract they created to grant access to my bank account to withdraw to pay them back for the erroneous extra amount given to me. The contact does not state the amount they will deduct/withdraw, but looks like they want to cut all of my checks for five months straight until it adds up on what was given extra to me. But one thing is they did not mention how much they will deduct from my paychecks or how they came up on the total amount I need to pay back.

I’ve been feeling bullied and harassed and stressed. I do understand it was a error and I’m willing to pay it back, but I cannot have all my checks for five months straight to be taken away as I have bills, rent, car payment, medical bills, and other pending bills.

A: Ask them for clarification. Say this: “Can you show me how you calculated the total amount of the overpayment? And how much you’d like to deduct from each check?”

If the amount they want to deduct will cause you hardship, ask if they will consider a different arrangement. Say something like this: “Deducting that much from each check would cause me serious hardship; I wouldn’t be able to pay all of my bills. Could we instead deduct $X and spread it out over Y checks?”

Most companies will be willing to work with you on this (at least to a point), especially since it was their error.

Read next: 10 Things Never to Say in a Work Email

These questions are adapted from ones that originally appeared on Ask a Manager. Some have been edited for length.

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