Origins: The advent of technology that allows for the generation and mailing of identical pieces of correspondence to multiple recipients, with everything but a few specific pieces of information (e.g., name, address, salutation) reproduced from a template, has also allowed for the large-scale commission of some embarrassing
And automated or otherwise, the practice of periodically sending mail (such as Christmas cards) to persons with whom the correspondent is not in regular contact carries the potential for creating incidents both embarrassing and hurtful, as
"This is nothing short of disgraceful,"
"All the work that's gone into helping my son since his mother died has gone down the drain."
The boy's mother died 15 months ago, and her family is still trying to come to terms with her sudden death.
The letter and the attached $50 cheque are both addressed to
"We thought it was some type of sick joke until we opened the envelope to find Bob Carr's smiling melon on the letter," the father, who did not want to be named, said.
"He can keep his lousy $50. We don't want his cheque".
The father said he was dumbfounded at how such a callous bureaucratic bungle could slip through the system.
"We do something wrong by the Government and they're into us. As soon as they make a mistake you get a flippant apology," he said.
Follow-up news accounts indicated that New South Wales premier Bob Carr initially said he would not be issuing a personal apology because he did not address the letter, but in the end
The letters, sent to relatives of all Army soldiers killed since the start of the Afghan and Iraq wars, described goods and services families are eligible to receive. But because of the error, the letters began with "Dear John Doe."
An Army spokesman said the error occurred because of a failure of a mail merge program, software used to personalize large mailings.
Barnes, Julian E. "Army's 'Dear John Doe' Letters Printed by Torrance Firm." Los Angeles Times. 16 January 2009. Brown, Michael. "Pity Your MP at Christmas — No One Else Does." The [London] Independent. 24 December 2003 (p. 10). Jelinek, Pauline. "Army Apologizes for Hurtful Message to Survivors." Associated Press. 7 January 2009. Saleh, Lillian. "Back-to-School Bungle Reignites Family's Grief." The [Sydney] Daily Telegraph. 20 January 2005 (p. 3). The [Sydney] Daily Telegraph. "Cheque Family Asks Legal Advice." 21 January 2005 (p. 9). Ottawa Citizen. "Australia: State is 'Sorry' for Cheque to 'Mrs. Passed Away.'" 21 January 2005 (p. A9).