Outsourcing those ‘sincere’ holiday wishes

An incredible amount of business these days, from building airplanes and computers to assembling, well, everything, is accomplished through what is known as “outsourcing.”

The practice generally refers to a company that contracts with another company to provide services that might otherwise be performed by in-house employees. Often the contract companies are located overseas. The main reason for outsourcing is to save money, in addition to other benefits.

Wisegeek.com, however, notes that “there are some disadvantages to outsourcing as well. One of these is that outsourcing often eliminates direct communication between a company and its clients. This prevents a company from building solid relationships with their customers and often leads to dissatisfaction on one or both sides.”

Which leads us to today’s “Apocalypse Now” report on the status of civilization: The Associated Press reports than a Minneapolis-based Internet stationer, Red Stamp, provides a service for those who wish to outsource their Christmas and thank you cards. And at least one woman has paid for such service.

“I just thought, the cards are either not going to go this year, or you should pay more money and have someone do it for you,” said Katie Ashton, a Chicago attorney and mother of two who outsourced her Christmas cards last year. One hundred of them, as a matter of fact, for family and friends.

Of course, it’s not really “outsourcing,” in the sense of saving money, since it costs more. For Ashton, however, it all pencils out: “That was free time for me to spend with my kids or do a million other things,” she said.

Ashton’s words show exactly why the Christmas card outsourcing idea stinks and lacks all human warmth and charm:

She would rather do a million other things than sit down and write a short note to her friends and family. An outsourced card sends exactly that message, intended or not. “Hey, Happy Holidays. Was thinking of you, but not that much. Had a million other things to do. But you’re still on my list of my 100 closest friends and family.”

In outsourcing lingo, that doesn’t help build solid relationships.

Red Stamp owner Erin Newkirk notes that people who want to send a personal message in a card tell the company what to write. Some even dictate the text for their thank-you notes. That’s setting the bar pretty high. Now the card not written by you can say, “Thanks for the sweater.” Instead of “Thanks for the holiday gift.”

What to send the person who sent you an outsourced card? How about a fill-in-the-blanks Christmas bragging form letter found at the Internet stationer?

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