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I was waiting for a box via mail, but it did not arrive in time. For this reason I went to post office and asked the guy in charge to learn if they will contact me somehow in case they cannot reach me. For this situation I used the following sentence:

Werden Sie zu mir kontaktieren wenn …?

His answer was:

Nicht ich, Deutsche Post wird …

Was my question bad as I used Sie in the sentence? Why did he think that I mean him by saying you. Of course, I meant the post. Or was he just making fun of me since he understood that I am not German?

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    He was being rough-funny... that's just how they roll at the post. Service shmervice. There was nothing wrong with the "Sie"... although the correct sentence would be "Werden Sie mich...." I think you're not the first one to whom he did that joke – Emanuel Dec 8 '14 at 16:31
  • Thought about it and as a matter of fact I feel like I would say "Werde ich irgendwie kontaktiert?". So I actually would depersonalize my question already. – Emanuel Dec 8 '14 at 16:33
  • maybe "werdet ihr mich kontaktieren wenn..." oder Kontakt aufnehmen (trennbar). zu mir kontaktieren IMO is false. zu mir wenden, could be an option too. – VP. Dec 9 '14 at 12:39
  • @Emanuel You might, but I would most likely go in and ask in a personalised question. Something like ‘Wann i ned do bin, werfan’S dann an Zettl inn Postkastn eina?’ Yes, I don’t even try to hide my bavarian ;) – Jan May 10 '15 at 11:42
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    @Jan... ach na wenn's umgangssprachlich sein soll, dann würd' ich natürlich as anderes sagen: "Wennick jetz nich da bin wenna ditt bringen kommt, krie-ick dann ühngdwie Bescheid? So Zettel oda sowat." :) – Emanuel May 10 '15 at 22:21
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This is somewhat more related to Deutsche Post than to the German language.
Most post offices are franchising partners (i.e. not working directly for Deutsche Post) and often saying things like

Wir tragen keine Schuld, die Post hat den Fehler begangen.

While this is unwanted by the Post, the franchising partners are differentiating themselves from the Deutsche Post. So even though as a normal customer you can’t know what kind of post office this is, you aren’t wrong if you say Sie instead of Ihr or Die Post.

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    Although I still cannot agree with using ihr. It has too much of a rude (duzen) connotation to me. – Jan May 10 '15 at 11:48
  • Jain... It also depends on the region. In the Rheinland using Ihr instead of Sie would be perfectly fine. There would be a bigger difference between Du and Sie. ...To sum it up, I think if you're obviously not a native speaker, nobody thinks you're being rude, because you make the wrong choice of words. – Clijsters May 10 '15 at 20:16
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It wasn't wrong to use "Sie" in this situation, but to understand it the way you meant it, it would have required the clerk to see himself as a representative of the company he is working for, instead of being addressed personally (which is the "normal" function of a "verb + Sie" constructionin a direct talk). Maybe this was too demanding for him (wouldn't be a surprise to me), or he was in the mood for rough jokes, as Emanuel already commented.

An easy way to circumvent this would be to use a passive voice construction:

Werde ich benachrichtigt, wenn ...?

Since you don't know (and are not interested in knowing) who exactly is going to contact you, using a grammatical construction that leaves the actor out of the picture seems quite appropriate for me here.

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You mixed two different ways to phrase your question into one:

"Werden Sie zu mir Kontakt aufnehmen, wenn.."

and

"Werde ich (von ihnen) kontaktiert, wenn.." or
"Werden Sie mich kontaktieren, wenn..."

In daily use its also common to use "ihr" instead of "Sie" in situations like this:

"Werdet ihr mich kontaktieren, wenn.."

Using the plural here makes it clear that you are talking about the company not just the single employee.
Even so, using "Sie" is totally fine here and the employee was just making a joke.

  • Instead of a vague "sie" I would say: Wird die Post mich informieren, wenn ... – rogermue Dec 10 '14 at 12:15
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    "In daily use its also common to use "ihr" instead of "Sie" in situations like this:" - This sounds like it is only valid for restricted regions of the area where German is spoken. It will be perfectly valid in some dialects or regions, but in others, I can only imagine it is understood as using "du" towards the post office employee, which sounds rather respectless (or implies a lack of education of the speaker). – O. R. Mapper May 10 '15 at 8:36
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    -1 for using ihr. That would, as O. R. Mapper says, come off as rude where I am at home. Sie all the way. – Jan May 10 '15 at 11:45

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