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I thought 'Hi there' was only used to greet people who you didn't know their names, such as you write a complaint letter to customer service. So I feel a little bit awkward when I received messages with 'Hi there' + some random chat/information from my close friends. I have encountered twice such case. Not sure if I have been overreacting on these.

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"There" suggests a physical space/place.

You are at your desk. You're busy working and then look up and see a friend or acquaintance whom you only just noticed or were not expecting. You say: "Hi there".

It is informal. It does not mean you don't know the person. In fact, you might know them very well. Or you are at your desk at home, and your child comes up unexpectedly, and you say: "Hi there."

It is not appropriate for writing emails to customer service. So, feeling uncomfortable receiving an email with that great as a customer service person is completely understandable...

There is also an element of surprise. You were not expecting the person to show up unexpectedly and it pleases you.

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    'Hi there' would be a very informal way to address a communication to an unknown person. A more formal way would be 'Dear Sir/Madam', 'Dear Customer Services' or similar. – Kate Bunting May 22 at 14:17
  • @KateBunting I disagree. I never say Hi There to people I don't know and e-mails that contain that to me when I don't know the person are usually scams. If one writes to customer service, one can just say Hello to be informal. – Lambie May 22 at 14:19
  • I wasn't recommending it, just saying that if you did use it in those circumstances, it would sound extremely informal. – Kate Bunting May 22 at 14:22
  • @KateBunting How is: very informal, your term, and mine, inappropriate any different when I specifically pointed out it was informal?? Your comment adds little beyond what I have already said. – Lambie May 22 at 14:42
  • You said 'I disagree' as though you had understood my comment as recommending 'Hi there' as an email salutation, which I had certainly not intended to do. – Kate Bunting May 22 at 14:47

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