Another package going out today? Greaaat.
September 20, 2012 4:30 PM   Subscribe

Do I contact the person giving out my email address as her own?

It's another other-people's-emails question. I have an extremely common name and I was lucky enough to get firstlast@gmail, so I see 4 or 5 wrong emails a week. Typically I delete wrong emails or, if it looks important, respond by asking the sender to check their records and delete my email from their address book.

However, someone has started a business and is using my email address for shipping contact information. I get notices of shipments now 4 or 5 times a day. Marking them as spam isn't working so far. The notices do, however, have this woman's address and phone number. Would it be reasonable to call her and let her know what's going on? She probably would like to know the shipping stuff and, though it's a relatively minor inconvenience, I'd like the annoying notifications to cease. Of course, this woman put my email address out there in multiple locations. She clearly thinks it's hers.

Should I call her? Should I just keep marking these things as spam and hope they cease?
posted by troika to Computers & Internet (18 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
That is her business phone number and this is about her business, so go ahead and call her. Right now you're playing volunteer admin assistant and the faster you call her, the sooner it will stop.
posted by griphus at 4:33 PM on September 20, 2012 [17 favorites]

I would absolutely call her - there's probably a typo somewhere.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 4:33 PM on September 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

I would go ahead and call her. I think it's a nice thing to do. However, because people are weird, I'd probably block my phone number just in case.

Also, this might not be a brand new business if you're suddenly getting 4-5 notices a day--it sounds more like an established business that has been around for a while and perhaps just hired a new employee who made a basic mistake. That doesn't make it any less annoying, I'm sure!
posted by the young rope-rider at 4:33 PM on September 20, 2012

Same problem...

I make 'the call' about once every two weeks, and return emails probably twice a week. It hasn't gotten any better over the years - so I've started migrating to an account.

Good luck!
posted by matty at 4:37 PM on September 20, 2012

Also, tell the vendors. Once they find out their invoices are goIng into a void, they'll make sure to get the right address.
posted by griphus at 4:45 PM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

You can easily solve two people's problems — yours and hers — with one simple phone call. You'll stop getting the emails, and she'll start giving out her correct information. Win-win. I don't see why you wouldn't do this.

My email is my Metafilter username at gmail, so as you can imagine, I get a lot of mistaken emails. When it's from a business and I have no way of reaching the intended recipient, I usually call the business to try to straighten things out. For instance, I've called an airline to explain that a stranger who happens to have the same name as me is going to be missing the emailed itinerary for his flight. Those calls that I've made have sometimes been much more convoluted than the call you're thinking of making — I had to explain things to random customer-service reps who had no familiarity with the situation, but it should be relatively easy for you to explain things to the main individual involved.
posted by John Cohen at 5:05 PM on September 20, 2012

I have this problem all the freakin' time. I have, and although my first name isn't really popular, it's by no means unique. I apparently have multiple people who think they own my email address. At first, I was nice, responded back, txted phone numbers, even called. But it's gotten to the point where I've given up. This has been going on for YEARS. I will occasionally reply to obviously personal emails, but I'm at the point where if these people are so clueless they don't even know their own email address, they deserve for their emails to be sent into the black void. Not very charitable I know, but I barely have time to follow up on my own emails, never mind theirs.

If it's not going to take a huge effort for you to call, do it... but I wouldn't spend a lot of time dwelling on it.
posted by cgg at 5:19 PM on September 20, 2012 [3 favorites]

I would contact the store owner and let them know.
posted by zippy at 5:38 PM on September 20, 2012

contact her, but use a google voice number or something.
posted by koroshiya at 6:08 PM on September 20, 2012

When I get a call or email in error, which has been happening with both of my main phone numbers and one of my email addresses fairly frequently as of late, I generally call or email the vendor that got in touch, explain that a specific piece of contact info they're using for their client is incorrect, and ask that they update their records to remove my address and/or check with their client directly to set the record straight. Usually that takes care of it.

Contacting the business owner who ordered from this place is just a more roundabout way of getting this fixed, because then she'll have to contact them herself anyway, and there's no guarantee that a crucial bit of information won't get lost in translation. You don't know where the error originated, but there's always the possibility that she doesn't know her own email address. Moreover, the business owner in question doesn't seem to have noticed yet that she isn't getting shipment notices (or the emails in error would've stopped on their own), so her attention to detail may be a little suspect.

And beyond that, I usually prefer to get in touch with the vendors because they have a vested interest in keeping their client happy, so they're more likely to apologize and fix the error without hassle—and they're usually less likely to foolishly assume that because you happened to receive an email in error, you've somehow hacked someone's account or something. All around, it's more likely to be productive to get in touch with the vendor, not the business owner, in this situation.
posted by limeonaire at 6:22 PM on September 20, 2012

Actually, sorry, rereading your question, it looks like it's more than just a possibility that she doesn't know her own email address—she, or someone she works with, just has no clue. I would get in touch with each of these vendors that you're getting shipping notices from and set the record straight; when her company gets calls from multiple vendors about this, they'll hopefully be motivated to fix the problem.
posted by limeonaire at 6:26 PM on September 20, 2012

I would never go through the effort of contacting each vendor. I'd ring the business and tell them that I think I cancelled some of their orders by accident because I received the invoices and was confused because I never ordered that and then after a couple of them I realised they were all for this business and they must have used my email address and they should probably contact all their vendors and check that they have their email address updated because I can't guarantee I won't accidentally cancel more orders if I check my email when I'm sleepy or something. I'd sound totally confused and apologetic and dumb.

Then if I kept getting all the invoices, in about three weeks I'd actually try and cancel the next order I received, print out the invoice and a note saying I'd cancelled it (same ditzy tone), and mail it to the business with no return address.
posted by jacalata at 6:35 PM on September 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'd contact them, but be prepared for them not to be all that gracious about it. I have a friend with a @firstname twitter handle and it's surprising how often she gets entitled BS about it, up to and including demands she hand it over and stop using "their" name. So you may need to firmly tell them okay, no, not going to happen, and from now on you're just going to delete the messages so they should be more careful in the future, byebye.
posted by phearlez at 6:41 PM on September 20, 2012

This happens to me all the time, sometimes in batches of a few a day. Usually I only bother to contact people when it's something obviously important, or if I get something for the same person more than once a day.

If it gets really bad like that, I have also had more success contacting vendors than trying to contact the person who is incorrectly using the email address. The vendors have a vested interest, most of the time, in getting through to the right person, so in my experience they are more likely to make the correction.

Mostly, though, I just delete them unless it's so many that it's more annoying than trying to fix it.
posted by gemmy at 9:31 PM on September 20, 2012

I'd call but if that doesn't work out (they don't understand the problem, or they insist it is their proper email address), you can always go to the shipping website, reset the password, and change the email address on the account to something random.
posted by mikepop at 6:38 AM on September 21, 2012

Incidentally, gmail has a glitch which treats the same as, except when the account is created. I have a certain unusual name, and I occasionally get and emails.

So this person might have put a typo when sending out their address, or they could have registered a legitimate but buggy version of the address that is the same as yours with more or less periods. At any rate, yes contact them through their business info.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 10:31 AM on September 21, 2012

L'Estrange Fruit, that's actually by design. It's not a bug; it's really still your address, whether it's 1.2.3, 1.....2.....3, 12..3, etc.
posted by raena at 5:14 AM on September 22, 2012

raena, I have to class it as a glitch, because if it was explicitly normalizing addresses containing periods, you wouldn't be able to register if someone else already had Their FAQ spins it as normal, but that's part of FAQ writing. Either they are incorrectly normalizing, or their registration app is incorrectly not normalizing; either way the system has a glitch that lets different people register the "same" email address.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 11:41 AM on October 12, 2012

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