There’s few things ruder than misspelling a customer, client or business contact’s name

Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, 2008

Say what you want about Hillary Clinton, the woman spells her name the right way. ;-)

My name is Hillary. H-I-L-L-A-R-Y. Hilarie, Hillaree, Hylari, I have seriously seen them all but at least all of those are pronounced the same way as Hillary.

My condo association believes my name is spelled Hilliary. This makes me sad.  That mess would be Hill-ee-ary.

When I was working at Lulu, everyone answered customer support emails and chats within our CS customer service system. I was having a pretty routine exchange with a customer when they randomly asked, “Do you seriously spell your name with three L’s?” I paused… scrolled down to the bottom of my email and… I’ll be damned, my name was in the system as Hilllary with three l’s and had been that way for several years without a single person noticing before this guy. I don’t know if that’s funny or sad.

Now, I wasn’t the person who set my account up in the system so it wasn’t technically my fault but since every single message I traded with a customer was automatically signed by Triple L, I was technically misspelling my own name for a very long time in hundreds of messages and chats.

(I’ve always felt smugly superior to one L Hilary because I had been told growing up that one L was the male version of the name so, in my mind, I had the “correct” version. This begs the question, if Hilary with one L is male and Hillary with two L’s is female… what does that third L do to your gender?)

But the lesson here is that some names have a billion ways to spell them and that even when it looks right at first glance, like my name did with three L’s, it might still be wrong. So, whenever you’re writing out someone’s name in a professional setting or when interacting with a customer, you can’t double check it enough. In fact, your best bet is, whenever possible, to just copy and paste exactly how they write their own name so you’ll know it’s correct.

Assuming that they, unlike me, know how to spell their own name.

Author: Hillary DePiano

Selling online since 1997, Hillary is the author of several books and eBooks about ecommerce and publishing including eBay Marketing Makeover, Beyond Amazon, eBay, and Etsy and Sell Their Stuff. She also writes fiction and is a bestselling playwright when you aren't looking. For a complete list of books, plays and projects, visit

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