I’ve had a gmail account since the first days of the service – so I’m lucky to have an address that’s based on my real name. I discovered fairly early on in my internet timeline that I share my name with a romantic novelist. I know – it’s hilarious. I bought one of her books on eBay once, out of curiosity. On its arrival, one look at it told me it wasn’t my cup of tea, but it always makes me “heh” seeing a paperback with my name on the spine, on my own shelf – so there it stays.
So ffw a couple of years, and I’m using my gmail account for job applications, personal contacts etc – the sort of thing where having your name as your email address is handy. I rarely get spam, because it’s mostly from very trusted sources.
I have a few different email addresses, including a yahoo one I pretty much double dare to be spam rammed – used for internet competitions, prize draws, etc. And actually, yahoo is pretty good at deciding what’s spam (I look in the folder occasionally to remind myself to be grateful for this service).
Meanwhile my gmail account has stayed pretty trash-free – however I did start getting emails that weren’t for me. I thought at first they were spam, but they were properly addressed, starting “dear-“, and when I looked into it the sender actually existed and had a publishing company, the one which happened to publish the aforesaid novelist’s books. He obviously just got the address wrong, by guessing, which is daft because her real address at that time was easily found on her email address, based on her book title Blush.
There were a few emails from this publisher, so I forwarded a few on to the Blush address, with an explanatory note, and got no response. I also contacted the sender – same. Perhaps my emails were ironically being captured into their spam folders.
The emails from the publisher continued for a while, the tone getting increasingly impatient as he wasn’t getting a response from her – apparently there were some of her books left in his possession that he 1. wanted rid of and 2. wanted paid for. He would therefore arrange for them to be delivered to her address in Malaga, Spain (please confirm). Then, he’d sent the books complete with invoice for the remaining balance. So I now had this amazing mental image of a shelved author (pun intended) sitting in her peaceful sunny garden, taking delivery of hundreds of paperbacks, cash on delivery. I wonder if this ever happened.
By now, I’d ‘LinkedIn’ to her profile, so surely she was aware there was a namesake, but actually there are loads of us and I am facebook friends with one in Australia who I friended in a moment of madness but actually I have quite a lot in common with. Our 2-way conversations can be confusing for observers.
Now for the last few months I’ve been the recipient of another rake of emails, this time with a nature reserve in California as the subject. Were they trying to contact the novelist? Based on the list of Directors, yes. Look! That website even has her blush email address on it.
Ridiculously, I received an email forwarded to me, which had originally come from the Blush address, which contained not only the novelist’s phone number, but her postal address! Look how close she lives to the nature reserve:
So all this made me curious – what if she really DOES have a gmail address, and she is perhaps receiving some of MY mail? So I tried experimenting logging into gmail in different ways.
For example: My “real” address includes punctuation. I tried logging into my mail by omitting the punctuation, and I still got in. I also tried just using the name, without the gmail bit, and I got in. Why should this be possible?
Apparently – it’s SUPPOSED to do this!
This page on google support says:
Sometimes you may receive a message sent to an address that looks like yours but has a different number or arrangement of periods. While we know it might be unnerving if you think someone else’s mail is being routed to your account, don’t worry: both of these addresses are yours.
Gmail doesn’t recognize dots as characters within usernames, you can add or remove the dots from a Gmail address without changing the actual destination address; they’ll all go to your inbox, and only yours. In short:
- email@example.com = firstname.lastname@example.org
- email@example.com = HOMERJSIMPSON@gmail.com
- firstname.lastname@example.org = Homer.J.Simpson@gmail.com
All these addresses belong to the same person. You can see this if you try to sign in with your username, but adding or removing a dot from it. You’ll still go to your account.
If you get mail that seems to be intended for someone else, it’s likely that the sender entered the wrong address, just like if you’ve ever dialed a wrong phone number for someone. In these cases, we suggest contacting the original sender or website when possible to alert them to the mistake.
Who knew? I didn’t!
So this poor woman should tell her friends to stop using the guessed address – perhaps a longer warning email to her is required (although I think I’ll miss getting these interesting snippets of her life)… watch this space…