The "reply all" function on email is a time bomb, perpetually waiting for someone to accidentally click it at the wrong time.
While "reply all" can be useful when chatting with a small group of friends, or communicating a system change across all company departments, it can backfire majorly when a snarky commented intended for one person gets blasted to an entire email chain.
In a popular Ask Reddit thread, people shared the most cringe-inducing time someone hit "reply all" on accident, and the secondhand embarrassment goes deep.
1. From Greatfreedom:
A design artist at a print shop I worked at ten years ago (I'll call her Z) had always been one of those flakey-but-only-just-good-enough to keep types. She'd create files that looked fine to customers and onscreen, but required sh*t loads of prepress de-f*ckery to make printable. Zero real technical skill, when it should have been half her job.
One day a little after lunch, a company-wide email from Z to her husband came through where she described waiting with glee for the opportunity to purposely fuck up a big repeat yearly job right before she planned to quit eight months later. (A lot of print jobs are on a yearly cycle with local businesses - this happened in Feb and referred to a $40k job that came around every October).
As IT relief, I got called in to check what happened and sure enough Z's other emails sent on her workstation's email address to her husband described other stupid things she was planning, and referred to one of her husband's friends who worked for a rival print shop, so it was clear it was a bit of sabotage and probably upcoming poaching.
Z was fired less than an hour after the email was sent.
I didn't mention to my bosses that the email to all the staff was sent when I knew Z was out of the office, and had originally been sent before she went to lunch, and originally only to her husband. Our other designer, a quiet mouse type who could actually do the work, had seen the earlier sent emails at other times she needed to use Z's workstation, and copied/pasted this completely revealing email into a new email to the whole company from Z's workstation. I just told her later in passing that I got her email about Z and gave her a thumbs up.
2. From Vargasa871:
A co-worker of mine was trying to motivate their sales office and was saying to get your hands dirty and if we had any difficulties closing a sale the girls should shake their little a*ses and close the sale.
Reached our CEO.
She wasn't there long.
3. From LandOfNineteen:
I was a temp in a very large law firm for a bit. One day, a new lawyer was hired, and HR sent out the standard email to everyone introducing the new guy and congratulating him on his new position.
New guy then replies all and asks the HR person if his benefits package pays for a hair transplant procedure.
4. From SarahKathrine:
I used to work at a law firm and one day an email went out to everyone (about 40 people) that was about a specific case and had very little relevance to my job position so I ignored it. A few minutes later I got another email from different attorney with a snarky response. Well an argument started between these two attorneys (still replying all to the office) and after about 6 or so emails a third attorney wrote " yeah well my dad can beat up your dad. By the way, you have been sending this to the whole office."
5. From bayreawork:
I used to work for a company that was a vendor for Abercrombie and Fitch. I would send emails to different people that work at Abercrombie every day. One day I sent a request to someone at the company and got an out of office reply that basically said "I am no longer with A&F, f*ck this shit, f*ck this place, everyone here sucks". I laughed my as* off for a few minutes then called a buddy that works there. Pretty soon the whole company was sending emails to this account just to read the reply. It took about an hour for their IT dept to get wind and take it off line.
6. From diegojones4:
Dude mass-mailed one of those "Great American Gas Out" things to all 6,000+ employees. The CEO did a reply all saying something like "Exxon is one of our biggest clients and using company resources for your own political agenda is against company policy."
7. From polandspreeng:
People would type their password inside group chats thinking they were logging into a particular system.
8. From Preebos:
I heard about someone where I worked that meant to send out an email to the whole department (a couple dozen people) to let them know that for their birthday they brought in doughnuts for everyone. People do this all the time. This guy, however, selected the email list for the whole company instead of the department. They were getting replies from employees in other countries saying things like "Well I don't know you and I can't travel there just for doughnuts... But happy birthday!"
9. From cobracoustic:
I worked in a very large government complex and someone once replied all to an email that was sent to the 500+ employees with the caption "This guy looks like Regi LOL" The picture was of a large, hairy man in a speedo. I have no idea who Regi is but if the caption was accurate then he should consider buying some hair trimmers.
10. From saltnotsugar:
I was working in an office during the Iraq war and I get an email from some random private. "Yall motherf*ckers need to shut the hell up!" Puzzled by such a blatant attack, I checked who this guy was and who he sent it to. I want to say he sent it to everyone in every command in Iraq, Afghanistan, and a few other places. Some say that private is still doing push-ups to this day.
11. From telephastic_ws:
Either the full staff email that was basically "Help, my cat had kittens who wants a kitten someone please take a kitten from me," or the follow-up email she was forced by management to send 5 minutes later apologizing for being unprofessional.
12. From alexisaacs:
Working in the claims department for a huge insurance company, one time a claim handler sent out very personal customer information to the ENTIRE company - every single employee including the CEO, security staff, building staff, even cleaning staff.
So, that's bad enough.
But then we have this other guy decide to reply-all to that email, asking the other guy why he sent him this message - blissfully unaware that the first guy sent it to everyone in the company.
So now the first guy responds, still unaware of what happened, telling the second guy he has no idea how that email went to him.
So this email thread goes back and forth, reply-all, these two geniuses investigating wtf happened, for like 10 replies.
They finally decided it was a computer glitch.
Idk how they still have jobs.
I'd have fired them just for not knowing how reply-all worked.
13. From ohlovely:
A guy from my training class got fired for poor performance. He knew for months it was coming. On his last day, before the obligatory "this isn't working out" meeting, he sent an email to every single person who reports to our work site (I work for a very large company, so hundreds of people, estimating conservatively) that said nothing more than "Remember, no one ever expects the Spanish Inquisition."
I guess everyone thought it was prudent to hit "reply all" to send back their confused responses. For HOURS, my poor inbox was getting flooded by their stupid replies.
14. From airportakal:
The Dutch railways has a timetable app with push notifications (eg if your train is delayed). One morning last year basically all people in the Netherlands with this app (that's millions) receive a push message: "This is a test message. Dear colleagues, I checked with [software] and all messages have been sent/received." Followed by: "Just so Hajo believes it too" (Hajo is a male's name.)
This one dude (accidentally) sent millions of people a message just to prove his colleague wrong.
15. From Phiask0:
The GM of my office was having issues with the sales team. He's been known to go over board. This time, he hit reply all and called one of the sales guy a "Dirty fucking N--ger." Needless to say once HR got a hold of the e-mail, is 27-year career was over.
16. From dalgeek:
When I was in college I worked at a local ISP. One day, out of the blue, the lead sysadmin calls me:
"Hey, do you know how to break into a Cobalt RaQ? I need you to delete an email." (Small hosting server)
"Uhh, I could probably figure something out. Worse case I can reboot it and reset the password."
"Sh*t. F*ck. Nevermind, that'll take too long" click
A bit confused, I just shrugged and went on with my day.
Later I found out the reason for the strange phone call. The customer had been emailing back and forth with the sysadmin and the company owner regarding some technical issue that lead to a billing dispute. The sysadmin, having a very short temper, hit reply all without thinking and wrote something along the lines of "Just because $customer likes to take it up the a*s, doesn't mean we need to bend over and let him do whatever he wants".
He called me to break into the server so that I could delete the email before the customer had a chance to read it. Unfortunately, the customer got the email immediately and received a lot of free hosting services.
17. From Zer_0:
Coworker's baby died during childbirth. They announced the funeral. Guy in sales replies all with his "Congratulations to the deserving couple."
18. From emotional_viking:
I used to work for one of the largest newspapers in the world. One day an email came through that was literally sent to the entire company worldwide. It was the contract a new hire who was a significant person at a rival paper was about to sign, with a salary that was astronomical. The body text essentially said "give him whatever he wants".
The woman who accidentally sent the email was kicked out of the building that day.
19. From suitology:
Guy sent a "listen babe I just need to finish one last report and then I'll pick you up and f*ck your brain out in the car okay?" Sounds awesome right? Yeah until we noticed the address he meant to sent it to was a subscription service for fake relationships/dirty talk.
20. From pizzapede:
We occasionally hire out of temp services during the busy seasons just to make sure we're adequately covered for everything; we're a decent sized customer service company with over 250 regular employees. This one temp we hired was let go for showing up excessively late 2 days in a row, and had only been with us for about 2 weeks [note - don't do that shit], so he sent a very angry email stuffed to the f*cking gills with super colorful language to what he thought was the address reserved for everyone in that specific office's management.
The fatal mistake was accidentally using the address that sent it to the entire company, management included, and also the f*cking executives way the hell up the ladder in corporate. It's an address that's pretty much reserved for management use, and only for things like policy changes, healthcare enrollment, and etc. EVERYBODY saw this train wreck crash right into this dude's life, and from some of the sh*t he said, I'd be amazed if he ever found an office job again. Some of the stuff included :
-Management is a bunch of fat b**ches with a stick up their a*s
-[company name] only hires illiterate retards off the street
-Miscellaneous insults about specific staff members
-Threats to report the company to the BBB and get us shut down [note that the Better Business Bureau isn't a legal organization, it's basically a review source]
-Claiming he was the best employee we ever had, and that we "f*cked up big time" by firing him
-Miscellaneous things about the "dumb a*s supervisors that just bullsh*t all day"
-Shoutout to Methy Becky [not sure what the f*ck that's about or who she even is]
The email was eventually removed, but not before one of the hiring managers replied and informed him of why he was fired, that he was a temp worker hired through a service and not a full employee in the first place, and that she would be writing an official report and sending a copy of the email to the temp service that referred him. It was all done in this snide-as-f*ck-talk-down-to-you tone that this particular person has a well-earned reputation for. Not technically a 'reply all', but it was f*cking terrific and should totally count.
TL;DR - #1 super genius gets fired for being late 2 days in a row, sends a super angry email stuffed with insults to literally everyone in the company.