Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Gmail Run Amok

When Gmail first went into beta, even before it was an invite-only service, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to sign up for an account; I grabbed msolomon at gmail dot com, which was lucky, because Gmail became huge and soon everyone was signing up for an account. Of course, because "msolomon" was already taken by the time Gmail went public, a lot of people were, I'm sure, signing up for accounts with similar handles. On a fairly regular basis - at least once a week, often moreso - I got registration emails that should not have been sent to my email address but were, because people had accidentally forgotten to add the extra letter or number or some other variant. In the same frequency I would get emails addressed to actual people, sent by actual people, who had, again, mistyped their friend's or relative's email address. The registration emails I alternately ignored or unsubscribed from; the personal emails I replied to, letting the person know that they had reached the wrong person. Usually people were apologetic, although often I simply didn't get a response, which was fine.

Once I got married, since I no longer wanted my maiden name as part of my email address - I wanted my email address to reflect my legal name - I set up a vacation responder that notified people that since I had gotten married, I was using a new email address, and if they wished to reach me, I could be reached at my new address. This was a good move; although I'm not one to get many emails, a few folks did try to reach me at my former email address.

However, once in a while I get a weird one. I got an email from a college kid who had been advised to get a professional-sounding email address, and wanted to know if I would give him msolomon at gmail. (I said no, partly because I was just recently married and I was still using that address; partly because I could foresee it taking me a few months to update all my online accounts with my new email address).

I had an email exchange with a gentleman who insisted I knew him. I insisted that I didn't, especially because this gentleman was either a lawyer or a judge (I've forgotten which) from, I believe, Georgia. (I know exactly one lawyer; he lives in MIssissippi, and when we are in touch, which is rarely, it's through FaceBook or LiveJournal.) He just couldn't fathom why I didn't acknowledge that I knew who he was.

Most recently I got a series of emails from the Volvo North American headquarters; they were very kind and polite and quickly understood that somehow, in some capacity, someone had used my email, and are working on removing my email address from their system, but that despite his initial advice (that I or my local admin would need to change the email address which VCNA stores on file, that from their vantage point they cannot make that edit because they don't have the necessary access rights), I had no idea what VCNA was an acronym for or what it was. It was very confusing.

The main reason I'm glad to be using a new email address is that no one will "accidentally" email someone else; my married name is somewhat uncommon - at least outside of Poland - and there are, I'm sure, many fewer Michelle Szetelas than Michelle Solomons (of which there are apparently quite an abundance). 

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