Common name on common service

XKCD 1279  (Explanation)

With increasing frequency, I’ll receive email intended for another Jim Carson with an account on gmail.  If it’s from an individual, I’ve had moderate success with providing a gentle, personalized note telling them that they’ve got the wrong email address.

I’ve given up with any emails from companies as they’ll either go to great lengths to avoid interacting with the unclean masses.  For example, JC from Ontario was having his boarding passes emailed to me.  Air Canada was unable to respond for “security reasons” (um: you have his phone number, you can’t call him?).

Or, sometimes, the company is really stupid with security.  For example, there’s a slightly older “JC” in western Canada who signed up for an online dating service but left off an important differentiator in his email address, resulting correspondence being forwarded to my mailbox.  Fortunately, my spouse is unfazed.  Unfortunately, the service’s unsubscribe link required a sign-in, and no one monitors their support box.  I set up a gmail filter to shunt all these to a Trash folder, hoping either he’d either realize the obvious error or would hook up with someone and close his account.

But… twelve months later, when I was looking for a potentially junkified confirmation email from a vendor who was apparently just using coal-powered (e.g., slow) web servers, I noticed Plenty Of these Fish(y) weekly emails were sitting in my trash bin.   On a lark, I hit the “forgot password” link and was sent … his plain text password.   So, I logged in and found the magic “delete my account” option.  Sorry, dude.

So since then, I’ve been taking a pretty low-tolerance approach to errant email addresses, opting for the “unsubscribe” or contacting customer support and, rather than trying to explain, just requesting they put me on the Do Not Call list.  It works better.

Longer term, I think my solution is to wean myself off gmail and go back mail hosted on my own domain, perhaps using a service like Fastmail or Rackspace.