Published January 19, 2014
An Illinois-based national office supplies chain has sparked questions about customer privacy after mailing a grieving father a solicitation containing coupons that inadvertently referenced the recent death of his daughter.
Chicago resident Mike Seay told NBC 5 he was shocked to recently find amidst his mail a coupon offering $10 off a future purchase at OfficeMax that was addressed to not only him, but also, "Daughter Killed in Car Crash."
The reference, he reportedly said, was a brutal reminder of 17-year-old's Ashley Seay death last April, when the SUV she and another teen were traveling in slammed into a tree in the northern Illinois town of Antioch, located just south of the Wisconsin border.
"Why would they have that type of information? Why would they need that?" Seay asked in an interview with NBC 5.
"What purpose does it serve anybody to know that? And how much other types of other information do they have if they have that on me, or anyone else? And how do they use that, what do they use that for?"
Seay reportedly said he first met with resistance and incredulity from OfficeMax, after a manager at a company call center told him regarding the ghoulish letter, “it was impossible, that this can't be happening."
But OfficeMax – after an NBC 5 inquiry – is now blaming the snafu on a third-party mailing list provider.
"We are deeply sorry that Mr. Seay and his family received this mailing from us, and we are reaching out to Mr. Seay to convey our sincerest apologies on this unfortunate matter,” a statement from the company reportedly reads.
"This mailing is a result of a mailing list rented through a third-party provider. We have reached out to the third-party mailing list provider to research what happened. Based on a preliminary investigation today we believe this to be an inadvertent error; and we are continuing the investigation."