Same Email Address, Wrong Person

by admin on March 27, 2012

About 20 years ago, I got an email address with a well-known ISP. The address is really cool: just my real first name then “at”, then the well-known ISP.

Some guy who lives about 400 miles from me has a wife with the very same name as mine, first and last. For some reason, this guy has memorized my email address (myrealfirstname@wellknownisp.com) in place of his wife’s email address. He has used this email address in various places, so I get email addressed to him from mortgage loan companies, charity requests and political organization invitations. I suspect he does it so as not to clutter up his wife’s email inbox.

Most recently I got an email from a car dealer “reminding” him of his service appointment. I called the car dealer and politely told the receptionist that the email address was incorrect, and I would be much obliged if she would (1) correct the email address in their records and (2) call the guy and ask him to not use my email address for his business.

I got another reminder email from the same car dealer later that day. I called the car dealer service manager who assured me that it would be corrected, and that he would personally communicate same to the guy. I was polite, but assertive, in this phone call pointing out that this was my second request. I mentioned this was actually dangerous, as I know their home address, the value of their house, their mortgage loan company, their political connections and have genuine, real, not counterfeit ID with his wife’s exact first and last names and my photo. If I were a dishonest identity thief (which I am not), I could open accounts all over the place using my own name and her address and other identifying information.

Today, I got A THIRD reminder email from the car dealer, with the option to cancel the service appointment. Grrrr!!!!!

So, I clicked on the link and canceled the service appointment. The form asked for a reason, and I entered “Terrible service, am taking my business to another dealer.” (Which is true. I take my own business to another dealer.) This seems to be the only way to get their attention.

OK, e-hellions, what think you?  0326-12

If you have all this mortgage and personal information, I think I would copy it all and send it by certified mail to the wife whose name you also bear and include in it a request that her husband cease using your email address for his transactions in his wife’s name.

{ 101 comments… read them below or add one }

Margaret March 27, 2012 at 11:29 am

I disagree with Jordan. If this had been the ONLY incident of the OP’s email address being misused, then it would be rude. After, she could just delete the reminders. However, this is an ongoing issue. Perhaps cancelling the appointment will finally get the other couple’s attention.

It could be that the wife has the same email address with another well known email provider and her husband is genuinely mixed up (e.g. Sally@hotmail.com vs Sally@gmail.com). However, once it is pointed out to them, he should take steps to rectify it immediately. If the OP has already notified them and they still refuse or neglect to correct it, then why should she have to continue to deal with it?

If you think cancelling the appointment is rude — my first idea was that the OP should set up a free website and post ALL of their information online.

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The Elf March 27, 2012 at 12:08 pm

Jordan – that’s the idea. They’d wonder what happened when he showed up for the service and the appointment was canceled. Eventually, they’d all figure out that it was because of the email problem and maybe the husband would learn his lesson.

That said, it causes a lot of trouble for the car dealership, who is innocent in all this. So I’m coming down on the rude, but understandable side. I totally get why OP took that act of desperation and I can’t say I wouldn’t do it either, especially after the THIRD notification when she had personally corrected it. But it’s still rude.

I also understand why the husband doesn’t want spam to clutter up his wife’s email inbox. That’s why I have multiple emails – one is specifically for businesses, organizations, websites, etc. Mail goes there, where I can sort through spam and legit receipts at my leisure. My other email box is just for friends and family. Using someone else’s email box for your spam is just plain rude, and not even understandably so since email addresses are easy to get and free.

I agree with Admin that the best answer is to contact the husband, via mail, and ask him to never use your email address again.

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Cat Too March 27, 2012 at 12:22 pm

I don’t think it was rude to cancel the appointment.

There are 3 (possible) situations here:

1) Guy is hiding this from his wife by using a different e-mail address (why I think the admin’s suggestion is the right way to go). If he gets his appointment cancelled because the info is being sent to the wrong place, that’s on him for *repeatedly* giving the wrong e-mail address.

2) Business was contacted and informed it was the wrong e-mail address. Twice. That they sent a 3rd reminder will bite them if the people who should have been contacted show up for their appt. It was THEIR JOB to inform the right people when notified that they were continuing to notify the wrong people and to stop notifying the wrong people. As a matter of business practice and making it not possible for the OP to have even been able to do such a thing.

3) Guy is just a doink about the e-mail address, and the aggravation of having to deal with getting bad results from not being on top of using the right address is his to have, because it’s his to keep track of.

In all of these cases, the only way for the OP to make the e-mails stop coming is to cancel the appointment so there are no more reminder e-mails. This is entirely legitimate in my book when other reasonable attempts have failed. In each case, the persons responsible for making sure that the OP was not the recipient of the e-mails is the person who has to deal with the results of not having done so.

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wowwow March 27, 2012 at 12:26 pm

weird guy – just delete all mail, but I don’t understand why you would tell the car dealer people to talk to this fellow for you? It’s none of their business either to get involved in this situation.

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Roo March 27, 2012 at 12:42 pm

@Jordan I disagree that it’s rude, because frankly what this guy is doing is dangerously stupid. If he can’t be bothered to notice that he has purposely handed his wife’s identity to a complete stranger in the age of identity theft, then he ought to get down on his knees and thank his stars that this person simply canceled an appointment and did nothing more. This one inconvenience won’t really hurt them, but I bet he’ll learn his wife’s email address from here on out – a lot quicker than requests to stop using the wrong one would have done.

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Lynne March 27, 2012 at 12:58 pm

Perhaps his wife’s email is only slightly different from your own?

Several years ago, I started getting a deluge of emails from many people in Hong Kong, where I have never lived nor visited.

Schedules for children’s swim lessons from a certain swimming pool, International Women’s Club meetings, personal emails about get-togethers — future and past!, invitations to children’s birthday parties, and newsy bits of neighborly chatter…..

Turns out that someone who was associated with that group of ladies had a *very* similar address (for all but one letter!) and once my address was used somewhere one some email in their “expat” system, it snowballed, because they did not maintain a formal mailing list — everyone sort of copied and pasted and circled the list as it suited their needs, and it spiraled…. SO hard to get my name “off” the list, because there was, in fact, no central list, and I kept getting all sorts of social Hong Kong invitations for a LONG time.

Perhaps this guy legitimately has his wife’s email confused.

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Wendy March 27, 2012 at 12:59 pm

I think I would do as admin suggested, but I think I’d take it one step further. I would contact this man and tell him if he does not cease and desist in using my email address and calls companies to change this contact information, he will be receiving a letter from my attorney. Period.

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jena rogers March 27, 2012 at 1:20 pm

Agree with Admin. If something WERE to happen involving ID theft, then it’s possible the OP could be implicated…

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Garry March 27, 2012 at 1:42 pm

“I suspect he does it so as not to clutter up his wife’s email inbox.”

I am sorry if I read it incorrectly, but is the OP suggesting the husband is using OP’s email address on purpose, so as to not clutter his wife’s inbox? Getting a new email account for less official purposes is not difficult and I have trouble believing someone would rather send potentially sensitive information to a stranger than have a cluttered inbox.
And OP is making too big a deal out of the issue. Phone calls can be annoying but how hard is it to delete a couple of emails unopened, or create a filter so such emails do not show up on her inbox.

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Jojo March 27, 2012 at 2:24 pm

I used to get emails from a random family who were going through quite a painful and personal break up. Asking to be taken off their email list was awkward to say the least. In the end, my isp started charging me to use the address so I just closed the account.
Well said Admin, if the husband wont deal with it, the he can explain it all to his wife. My guess is he’s not particularly tech savvy and just emails both addresses instead of deleting OP’s. I really can’t see what was wrong with OP canceling the appointment – it was in her name after all. Sometimes you’ve got to do something irksome to make people listen to you.

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AS March 27, 2012 at 2:57 pm

@Jordan: at least in that way, this guy might learn his wife’s actual email address. I don’t think OP did anything rude, and it was extremely rude of this person to give the wrong e-mail address to several vendors thereby flooding OP’s mailbox.

I am not sure if the OP could have contacted the couple by e- mail, because it does not say anywhere that he/she got it. I do like the admin’s suggestion of sending them a certified mail.

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Angeldrac March 27, 2012 at 3:08 pm

Um, are you so sure that this man is doing this on purpose? Small things in an email address such as an underscore or full stop can often easily be omitted, not just by the man in question, but by the other businesses he is providing the email address to. The couple may have been wondering where all their important emails have been going all these years.
Honestly, I don’t think this is a question of etiquette, it’s a question of making sense of all the crazy technology that exists these days. The are serviceing emails are likely stuck on an automated system, which would explain why they continued after your call. The manager at the at car servicing place a) could well be trying to fix the situation or b) (and this I think is highly likely) have better things to do than waste time trying to fix, what really is, for him, a very minor issue for a woman 400 miles away who only need hit “delete”.
Honestly, OP, I’m surprised you aren’t inundated constantly with unwanted emails. Your address, though wonderfully simple, really is too simple in this day and age. Of course you’re getting other peoples email! Have you considered getting a new address?

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Angeldrac March 27, 2012 at 3:15 pm

Actually, I was just reminded of a situation with misdirected emails and my sister. She checked her email one morning to find several emails between a several PR company people discussing the details of a surprise visit to a Sydney venue by a VERY high profile celebrity. Her email had been added halfway through the thread (the person had omitted the “.au” from the intended recipient).
My sister, bless her, promptly emailed them back and made them aware of their mistake. A flood of thank you emails came back to her, also imploring that she not disclose the contents of the emails to the wider community. Of course, she told us, her sisters, still – it was pretty juicy information!

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Enna March 27, 2012 at 3:25 pm

I like Admin’s advice. I also think that you should take lkb’s advice and notify the police as this does smell fishy. It also counts as harrasement as you are getting unwated emails. You should contact the man and say that 1) this is harrasement 2) you will be notitfying the police. Maybe you should get a new email address?

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JinxC March 27, 2012 at 3:37 pm

I completely agree that the car service place is probably not a great place to do business. After telling them twice that they were contacting the wrong person, you think they’d care enough about customer service to take the 2 seconds to delete that email from their accounts.

I don’t think it’s necessarily rude to cancel the appointment, either. The man that is giving out OP’s email must surely know that’s not the right email address. Which means he’s not anticipating receiving any of the emails he signs up for. It’s incredibly horrible that he would continue to sign the OP up for spam emails. Why is he doing this? Does he have some beef with OP for snatching up that email address? Okay, maybe canceling the appointment isn’t the nicest things to do… but seriously, this guy must be kind of cracked to think it’s a good idea to give companies he actually wants to deal with the wrong email address.

I agree it would be a good idea to somehow get the emails/information to the wife. She might not be aware that her husband is choosing to send their personal info to a random person.

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David March 27, 2012 at 3:38 pm

I would have cancelled the service appointment too. It would have been in my name with my email address and I wouldn’t be driving 400 miles to keep the service appointment, so better to get someone else that can use it in that time slot.

OP, do you know either the husband’s or the wife’s email address? It seems a shame that you will have to spend money to get this fixed.

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Garry March 27, 2012 at 5:09 pm

I don’t understand why are we so eager to paint the guy as being malicious and making unauthorized use of her email address. She has mentioned that his wife’s name and OP’s name are exactly the same, so it not too much of a presumption that her email addresses might be similar too. It seems way more likely that the guy has filled the wrong email address by mistake to the various vendors and the car company. I can see no etiquette violation here except some mistaken information and no cause to suspect the guy of any rudeness.

System changes like email and address changes sometimes take a little while to reflect on all systems. So the email probably was automated. I would have ignored it or reported it as spam rather than cancel someone’s appointment.

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Angie March 27, 2012 at 5:40 pm

This reminds me of a situation my mom was in some years ago. She started getting calls at home for some dental office at all hours of the night. She found out that they had a sign in their window with their phone numbers, and hers was listed as the emergency after hours number.

She called them a few times and politely asked them to correct it, and in the meantime every time anyone called she would give them the right number. But after a month she was still getting the calls, and when she contacted them again the receptionist was really rude to her, telling her they were just too busy to change a digit on a sign.

So she decided it was gloves off. After that, she gave people who really had an emergency the number of another local dentist who was open 24 hours. But anyone who just wanted a checkup or cleaning or something non-urgent was told to come at 10 o’clock Friday morning, and she ended up telling about 10 people that. When the time came, she was at work, wishing she could be a fly on the wall in that waiting room.

After that day, she never got another call.

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Cat Whisperer March 27, 2012 at 5:44 pm

Well, in the OP’s place, my primary concern would be about having MY identity stolen.

That issue aside, and I’m not sure how you’d deal with it, I think I’d just rely on my “delete” button to deal with the unwanted eMails. Heck, there’s so dratted much junk eMail that arrives, what’s the issue with deleting one more?

Personally, I wouldn’t have called the car dealer about the service appointment, because I wouldn’t want to get involved. (Also I don’t have time or energy for that level of effort.) I’d just delete the email and figure that eventually things would get straightened out.

Aside from the identity theft issue (and the only identity whose theft I’d be concerned about is my own), I think the OP is making a whole lot of stew over not much oyster, so to speak. Delete the errant emails and let the other party straighten things out on their own.

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I am the OP March 27, 2012 at 5:50 pm

Thanks for everyone’s comments.

I do not know the email address for either the husband nor the wife. I only know their home address from the many mortgage offer emails I have received. Anything with their real email address is going to their real email inbox, not mine.

I am hesitant to send them any kind of paper snail mail, nor call them on the phone, because I don’t want to reveal my own address or my own phone number. The suggestion of asking my lawyer to send a letter is a good one. I do have a lawyer on retainer, already, as I am a small business owner. That would get their attention and mask my own personal information.

This has been going on for at least four or five years. The husband and wife are, apparently, big-time donors to a political party, opposing the party to which I belong. I distinctly remember deleting a lot of “We can’t win without your help” political fundraising spam back in 2008.

99% of the email I receive addressed to Mr and Mrs Moron is deleted right away, seeing as how most of it is spam. When the occasional “important” email shows up, I do as I did with the car dealer. I call and politely tell the organization representative that they have the wrong email adddress, would they please correct it and kindly pass on the word to the Morons. I did this with a doctor’s office a few years ago, and never heard again from that office.

I am not a rotten, vindictive person. I can see how things get messed up.

So, when I got the car dealer email I called, TWICE, to tell them the email address was incorrect. I was polite, yet assertive. The second call was taken by the service manager who told me that “Mr Moron is a customer of mine. I know him.” “Great”, I said, “Then you personally can assure me that you will take care of this matter in your company computer system and tell Mr Moron what is going on?” “Yes.”

It was the third car dealer appointment reminder that really ticked me off. That’s when I clicked “Cancel”.

Did it screw up the car dealer’s system? Probably not. (But then I DON’T CARE.) The service manager probably looked at the cancellation and said “Oh, that’s probably the lady that called yesterday. I forgot to take her email address out of our records.”. I am hoping that served as a reminder to the service manager to do what he promised to do, including inform Mr Moron there is a problem with his memory.

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PLG March 27, 2012 at 7:18 pm

To the people that have suggested she email this guy back to tell him its the wrong address he’s using… that’s kind of hard to do if he hasn’t shared his address on any of these things and just replying will send it back to the original sender. Calling him may have been an option but could also set off a hornets nest if they take things the wrong way and potentially accuse OP of theft.

I feel she was justified in canceling that service, especially after two requests to fix things were ignored. This sounds like it has been going on a long time and its about time this person got a wake up call that what they are doing could but himself and wife in great danger of identity theft amongst other things.

I used to work in a Print and Copy center pretty much smack dab in the middle of ‘legal center’ in my old city and we had one case of a lawyer emailing his clients a phone number that was wrong. We found it weird that he didn’t notice he wasn’t getting calls from new clients for a month since they were all calling us. It drove us crazy getting calls from people looking for this lawyer, who sometimes got angry if they called more than once and still didn’t get him, or spouting off case numbers and names linked to cases to us before we could stop them and tell them they had the wrong number. None of them seemed to get the hint that something wasn’t right when we answered with the phone with “[Printing company] Queen Street, this is [Name], how can I help you?” One woman called us up to 4 times a day adamant that we HAD to be this persons lawyer group or at least had to know him because of the number in his email and got very angry every time we told her we were a print and copy center NOT a layers group and had NO IDEA who he was. She finally stopped calling after she got my boss on the phone and started ranting at him about it and had had enough of her after hearing her treatment of us (usually rather nasty words said on her part when she didn’t get what she wanted). He told the woman to either email the guy back about the case and get his proper number or go look the guy up and go to his office if it was so important and stop harassing his staff or else he would call legal action on her for harassment. Eventually we managed to get the guys full name from a client, looked him up and emailed him (since even his phone listing was wrong as well) and got it sorted. His number was supposed to end with something like 0096 ours ended with 0066.

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theredqueenofoz March 27, 2012 at 7:22 pm

With regards to the car dealership, it may not be the right thing to do but it is funny. You did contact the dealership twice and you beleive he is using your email address on purpose.

I found it weird that the husband keeps using your email address. Given that you have their home address I would try contacting the wife and ask her to have a word to her husband. I’m wondering if he is hiding things from her given the nature of some of the documents you have received.

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HCG March 27, 2012 at 8:00 pm

I thought Admin’s solution (potential solution, anyhow) was the right one, but have now read the OP’s post saying s/he doesn’t have the correct emails or mailing address. This is clearly out of hand. Perhaps the OP can call them from a blocked number, so that her/his own # isn’t revealed?

Many years back – before the days of *69 or caller ID – I got an upsetting series of answering machine messages from a woman who’d gotten my phone number mixed up with a close friend’s. And somehow I was never home when she called. Result: for several days I’d click my machine’s “Play” button only to hear “Louise” tell “Annie” how much emotional distress she was in, how horrible it was, how she didn’t think she could go on, how she didn’t understand why her friend wasn’t phoning back – “I’m sitting here in a lot of pain” – and I got more and more and more worried. But she never left a phone number or anything. Finally one day “Louise” mentioned her place of work. I thought about her privacy; I thought about her sanity. I phoned, trying to sound businesslike, was told she was out sick, was put through to her extension, and left as gentle a message as possible explaining that she’d been calling my number, that I wasn’t her friend, etc.

Never heard back. I hope because she was embarrassed, and not because something dreadful had happened.

So my sympathies to the OP! I hope you can get this sorted out.

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stillinva March 27, 2012 at 9:17 pm

“Did it screw up the car dealer’s system? Probably not. (But then I DON’T CARE.) The service manager probably looked at the cancellation and said “Oh, that’s probably the lady that called yesterday. I forgot to take her email address out of our records.”. I am hoping that served as a reminder to the service manager to do what he promised to do, including inform Mr Moron there is a problem with his memory.”

OP, this is my only problem with your post. because, yes, your e-mail about their terrible customer service did go into their database. it’s not the dealership’s fault that these people gave them the wrong e-mail address. so you have dinged the service department of that dealership for bad service when they didn’t give bad service, and they will have to explain that. the dealership probably can’t change the information in their computer without the permission of their customer, which isn’t you.

and i say this as someone who started to receive various notifications a year ago for someone who had a very similar e-mail address. i explained, once, that they had the wrong address, then i blocked those addresses. i actually had a dentist office confirming an appointment for a cleaning. i let them know they had the wrong person, and they wanted to know if i’d like to take the appointment instead. once i explained that i was on the East Coast, and i couldn’t possibly make it to freaking Iowa in time for the appointment, they removed my e-mail address.

why didn’t you just block the dealership’s address?

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Mel March 27, 2012 at 11:17 pm

I have a similar problem. About 10 years ago I got an email that was firstname.maidenname@provider.com When I got married I diverted all mail to firtsname.surname@provider.com

Evidently there is a lady in Texas (I am in Australia) with the same maiden name as me. Her email address is firstnamemaidenname@provider.com

Without fail – I get between 15 – 50 emails for her every week, I used forward them on with a request that she email her friends and correct the address they have listed.

Obviously she didnt pay attention so now I just delete them. I figure if its important enough for her to follow up she can then correct the address they have on file

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Laura March 27, 2012 at 11:19 pm

How do you know it’s the husband using the wife’s (incorrectly typed) email address, OP?

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Kate March 28, 2012 at 4:21 am

I had a similar issue at my old apartment. The previous tenant had not provided a forwarding address to either myself or the real estate agent, and had failed to change his address with anyone, including our state’s vehicle licensing authority, his mobile phone provider and various mailing lists he subscribed to.
I tried asking the real estate agent for a contact number so I could inform him, he didn’t leave one. For about six months I wrote ‘Return to sender, no longer known at this address’ on all of his mail, and not one of those companies bothered to change his details. Finally I just chucked everything in the bin. This went on for the entire two and a half years I lived there. Needless to say, I made an extensive list and changed my address absolutely everywhere when I moved house!

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MidoriBird March 28, 2012 at 4:47 am

Meh, it isn’t so much with email as it is dealing with local businesses that mix me up with the other woman around here with the same first name and surname as me. Because of them trying to look up her information and getting mine by mistake, I’ve gotten A. Her medical bills (fixed after an objection on my part), B. She’s gotten MY medical results, C. My taxes have nearly been filed under HER name twice (each time I caught it and now check every year when I deal with my tax preperation individual), D. HER credit rating is terrible, E. She has bounced checks in the past and F. One car company sent me two threatening phone calls where they ignored my insistence that they had the wrong individual and only ceased when I provided concrete proof they had the wrong person and a threat that if they did not cease and desist I’d be taking legal action AND putting my story up on the internet for all to see. (The fact that I got a second phone call after the first did not help my temper.)

I’ve met this woman as a customer where I work; I am careful to NOT tell her the difficulties she’s caused me. Needless to say that I take several precautions when dealing with ANYTHING that requires input of personal information to eliminate the possibility of getting mixed up with her again.

Just some weeks ago here I got a phone call from another car dealership and the first thing I did was make sure they weren’t the same place as before (they weren’t). I interrupted the woman’s speil to make sure of this (I’d had enough by this point but I tried to remain nice about it) and when she asked why I told her. She was very shocked. “They did that to you? They THREATENED you?!” I confirmed this and told her that I don’t drive; I’ve never had a license and I don’t know how. (I’ve got a terrific phobia of driving.) She promised to delete my information from their list and I haven’t heard back from them since.

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Margo March 28, 2012 at 5:41 am

It should be obvious and easy to fix, but I suspect in practice, it isn’t. I’d be interested to know from OP whether she has ever contact these people directly. If not, I agree that that should be the first step.

But people often do not listen, or do make the same mistakes over and over.

My main e-mail address is one I’ve had for 20 years.. I would be very reluctant to close the account and start over. The address is FirstName_LastName@ISP, so it is easy to remember, and clear who I am.

I’ve twice had problems with my address being used – although not as badly as the OPs, in each case it seemed to be just one person/organisation which had the wrong address.

The first time, I got a bunch of messages congratulating me for getting into Law School, (which puzzled me as I am a Lawyer, so they were not so much wrong as about 6 years too late) – I replied to the senders to say thank you, but I thought they meant to contact someone else. I assume they all checked becasue I never heard further.

The second time went on much longer – I started getting messages for a woman who (I inferred from the messages) was either employed or subcontracted as aa delivery person for a newspaper in Canada, so I started to get mails asking me if I could cover a specific round, or fill in for someone who was sick.

I mailed back the first 6-7 times telling them they had the wrong e-mail address, that I was on a totaly different continent and was not in a position to pick up a shoft at short notice. I could not mail the person they were tryinmg to contact, as I didn’t have her address. Eventually they petered out.

The funniest incident of this kind however happend not to me, but to my dad. He started getting mails from a woman who was clearly trying to contact someone withthe same (fairly common) first and last name. He responded to her, explining that she’d got the wrong person and (as the mail was sent to his office address) sending her a link to the directory so she could check the correct address, asuming the person she wanted was within the company.

A few moments later he was copied in to a group e-mail from the same person saying somthing along the lines of “OMG, This is so weird, I just got a mail to say I’ve been sending e-mails to a strange man, not to [Name]”…

He decided that the kindest course of action was to not respond to that one…

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Jay March 28, 2012 at 8:36 am

My wife got robo-calls from a collection agency for over a year, about twice a week, looking for a particular person with a totally different name, but who obviously gave a creditor her cell number once upon a time. Very annoying.

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JamieC0403 March 28, 2012 at 9:21 am

I haven’t had the issue with my email, but for the first three years I had my cellphone number I was constantly getting collection calls for the person that had the number before me. Most people when I told them that it wasn’t the right number would accept it and I wouldn’t hear from the company again. But one collector, a car loan I think, kept calling three or four times a day. At the time I had a job wherre I couldn’t have my phone on during the day so I got three or four voicemails a day. The first day i called and told them it was a wrong number and ignored them after that. Finally one day he called while I was off work and I talked to this guy in the morning. I told him sorry he has old number. He hangs up. Two hours later he called again. Again I told him it was the wrong number and I don’t know Patricia. He flat out told me that he thought I was lieing and that I was Patricia. I told him to listen to the outgoing message on the voicemail bed been calling several times a day for weeks. He called right back and I let it go to voicemail. Then he called right back and said that I lied and my voicemail said that I was Patricia. My name sounds absolutely nothing like Patricia and again I had no way of reaching her. He still would not listen and kept calling for several more weeks before finally giving up o maybe reaching her some other way. I just quit answering those calls and deleted the voicemail without even listening to them.

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Natalie March 28, 2012 at 10:21 am

This is why it’s a good idea to make your email address something other than firtnamelastname@service.com
My email address is very unique and people usually laugh when I tell them, but I have never gotten an email sent to me that wasn’t meant for me (except regular spam, obviously). If you ahve a common first or last name (or both!), try to avoid using it as part of your email. Many email programs do have auto-forward, so if you decide to set up a new account, you can have email from certain recipients (that you choose) forwarded to your new email address.
I do feel your pain, OP. When we moved when I was 13, our new phone number was one away from a radio station. (Back in the days before caller ID, so we had no idea who was calling!) My mom and I were pretty good about being polite and telling callers they had the wrong number, but my dad would take down song requests and dedications. He got very frustrated once when the radio station had a big promotion and we received something like 100 calls in 10 minutes. He finally yelled at someone “You’ve won! You get a free goat, now come down to the station and get it!” and then left the phone off the hook.
We changed our number shortly after that.

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The Elf March 28, 2012 at 11:52 am

OP, you can send mail without a return address (or use the sending address as a return address). It’ll be postmarked from wherever it is processed, so you can even drive to a different post office if you like. You can also call them from a pay phone. That will preserve some level of privacy.

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badkitty March 28, 2012 at 12:25 pm

I would guess that we know this man is deliberately using the wrong email address (as opposed to simply getting it wrong) because the OP isn’t getting any email from the husband himself. If my husband got my email address wrong he’d be more likely to do it when trying to send something to me rather than when giving it out; this is because normal people don’t typically give out someone else’s email address, they give out their own and leave it to the other person (be it a spouse, friend, or relative) to decide whether to give that info.

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Bibianne March 28, 2012 at 1:51 pm

Had something similar happen to us while visiting my mom.
This young man called and asked to talk to “Jane”. I responded” Sorry, you have the wrong number. There are no Janes at this number”.
He phoned 3 more times in less than 5 minutes. To get the same response. The 5th time he got his MOM to call us… I responded with the same and asked” who ARE you looking for?” And she told me… I said ” hold on” grabbed the phone book (yes, this happened about 18 years ago ;-)) and looked up the last name and saw a phone number that was 1 number off from my Mom’s. So I told the lad’s mom… tell your son to open the phone book at page ### and to please dial the number as it is written there. Thank you!” We had a peaceful evening after that ;-)

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athersgeo March 28, 2012 at 3:38 pm

I was having this problem a while back, when I suddenly started getting emails about jobs in the health sector (I’m in IT, and alwyas have been). I ignored them for a start, then I got invited for an interview with an NHS Trust in Newcastle Upon Tyne (I live in Southern England and, again, work in IT AND I hadn’t applied for another job, much less one so far away from me!) At that point I did the kind thing and rang up the job agency to point out that either they had the wrong email or their candidate couldn’t spell her own name. Simple yes? Well, no. It took me three different people before I could get them to understand what the problem was. Because surely one Rach(a)el [very uncommon surname] was exactly the same as the other… OP I sympathise entirely.

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many bells down March 28, 2012 at 3:58 pm

@Natalie – Even then that doesn’t always solve the problem. My email bears zero resemblance to my name. Yet one day I got an email from Best Buy saying that the credit card I was using to make payments on my phone had been declined. I have never bought a phone from Best Buy, so I was a little concerned about this being some sort of scam or identity theft. I called them and it turns out a woman in Texas who shares my name had indeed bought one, and when they looked her up in the database they must have clicked me instead of her. Her email matches our name.

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Angie March 28, 2012 at 4:45 pm

Ah yes, phone numbers. The first apartment I lived in, my friend and I got a phone number that had previously belonged to a service station. We’d get calls at 6 am on a Sunday morning asking if our car wash was open.

And apparently the number had also belonged to a property management company at some point because we got calls asking how much rent we were charging for our townhouses. They actually had a sign up on the side of the building with our name on it. After several calls to said property management company asking them to take the sign down with no success, my friend and I finally drove down there and took the sign down ourselves. I now have it hanging on my rec room wall, 30 years later.

Right now my home number is very close to that of a local real estate office, so I occasionally get calls for them. Most people are polite when I tell them they have the wrong number, but one woman actually started arguing with me and insisting that I was a realtor and just didn’t want to admit it. Yup, that’s the way to drum up business…

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Roslyn March 28, 2012 at 5:39 pm

This isn’t about an email, but my phone number. I have a common last name. I was newly married back in the day that you had to physically show up at the Phone Companies office to sign up for a phone. My husband was working 2 jobs, one day and one night and couldn’t do it. I couldn’t put a phone in his name, so it went in my name.

I started getting calls from men, “Hey babe, what do you mean you don’t remember me? You were so HOT last night!!” And many were worse. Different men, sometimes several different men in one day. I had lost my job and so I was home and my husband continued to work 2 jobs. I usually took these calls and didn’t say anything to him. One day we came home to three answers on the message machine. Two were dirty calls from men wanting certain “acts” and one was from a woman threatening me for doing what I was “doing” with her husband.

Needless to say this made my new marriage difficult, but he believed that I WASN’T in bars at night when he was at work (thankfully) and these calls were just too bizarre.

We never were able to solve the mystery, until about 5 years later. We were having dinner with an old friend of my husband’s and his girlfriend. When we were introduced and she was told my name she burst out laughing!! “Are you from XXX XXX town?” I said, no, but we had an apartment in that town for about 6 months. She said that she knew a girl with the EXACT same name as me (as my newly married name), but this girl was a nasty slut. I looked at her and told her about the weird calls that I got. She told me that this girl lived with her mother that many years ago. One of the guys that called me constantly (back then) INSISTED that I told him to call me, when he asked for “my” number I smiled and told him “Just look me up”.

So we put two and two together. She was out whoring and telling men to “call her” by “looking her up in the phone book”. So they did. And they got me, newly married and at home cooking dinner for my darling husband. Eventually the wives caught on.

So, since then I have never had the utilities in my name. ALL of them are in my husband’s name. There are 22 men with his name in this town alone, so good luck figuring which one it is!!

Sometimes having an uncommon name is the best thing.

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Green123 March 29, 2012 at 9:49 am

Hmm. I think I’m probably a suspicious person, but in the OP’s position I’d be concerned. Yes, this guy could just be a moron, or skilled at mistyping his wife’s email address. But he could also be a fraudster. I’d contact the guy, tell him in no uncertain terms to cease and desist, and that any further emails will be deleted / filtered into Spam. But if it carried on, I’d be raising my concerns with the police, just in case.

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Kristi March 29, 2012 at 12:33 pm

I am at a loss as to why OP is so sure that the woman’s husband is deliberately diverting his wife’s e-mails to her. Why in the world would you want to miss notification of appointments, or communications with your bank, etc. all in the name of avoiding spam in your wife’s inbox? That to me makes no sense at all. I think the guy is just messing it up.

That said, in response to those who said the dealership is innocent in all of this, I disagree. If OP has no actual way to contact this couple, then the next best thing would be to contact the originator of the e-mails, and I believe they had an obligation to correct their records. Sure, it’s not their fault that the appointment-maker gave the wrong e-mail address, but given OP going to the trouble of calling multiple times to let dealership know of their error, I think it then BECOMES their obligation to fix it. The only thing I would have done differently is to put the true reason down for ‘canceling’ the appointment, but I can totally see that frustration with the situation would drive you to do something like this.

Thinking of it in the way that the husband may have actually had NO CLUE that he was randomly listing the wrong e-mail address, his first knowledge of the situation could actually have been showing up at the dealership for his now-canceled appointment. In that scenario, I’d say his dealership did him a disservice in not updating their records!

OP, protecting your identity is easy, as suggested above, simply do not use your return e-mail address, and/or if you are able to track down a phone number for the couple, hit *69 from your own phone. I think a politly worded e-mail or phone call would solve the problem, as I said, it doesn’t seem plausible that he is doing this deliberately.

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I am the OP March 29, 2012 at 7:30 pm

Folks, I just received another car dealer advertisement addressed to Mr Moron, but coming to my email address.

I will call, tomorrow, and ask to speak to the general manager.

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The Elf March 30, 2012 at 6:47 am

OP, you can block all email from this sender too. You shouldn’t have to, but at least you won’t be pestered any more.

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GroceryGirl March 31, 2012 at 1:53 pm

For awhile I was getting calls and text messages from guys for Nicole. Not only do I not know a Nicole but my own name is way off from Nicole. I told several of the callers I wasn’t her but many didn’t seem to believe me. I got a little tired of getting the calls/texts so I started telling them I was at a wild party and then give them the address for a local senior center. They stopped after that.

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Calli Arcale April 2, 2012 at 11:56 am

I get some odd “confirm your account” e-mails periodically, all to rather risque-sounding services. (I can’t say for sure that they’re off-color, because I don’t want to click the links and find out; such sites are fairly notorious for viruses, after all.) One of them did have a friendly link for “if you have received this e-mail in error, please click here” and I got a friendly reply back from the service thanking me for confirming this was *not* a correct account, and that they’d take my account off their list. I think that one was a message board of some kind.

Eventually, I got curious enough that I did a little googling, and found evidence of an individual with a very similar username. Who is evidently prone to typographical errors. ;-) Harmless, but I think this finally explains why I get spam from Victoria’s Secret, a store which I never shop at due to what appear to be severely inflated prices.

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Athena C April 4, 2012 at 10:21 am

That reminds me – several years ago, I lived in the barracks, where the high turnover of personnel means that there is also a high turnover in landline numbers. Soon after I moved in, I got my landline set up and recorded a voicemail greeting – “Hi, you’ve reached Athena Carson’s voicemail. Please leave me a message and I will get back to you as soon as I can – thanks!” Pretty boilerplate, but clearly identifying who I was so (theoretically) only people who actually wanted to reach ME would leave ME a message, right? Wrong.

Virtually every time I came home I would see the light on my phone blinking indicating I had a voicemail. I would check my voicemail, only to hear “Yes this message is for Valerie Plame (name changed, obviously), if you could please call me back at 808-XXX-XXXX. Thank you!” This went on for several months, from several different companies. I just ignored them, hoping they would get the message when Ms. Plame never called back. Plus, my schedule was jam-packed and I didn’t really have time to call ~10 different companies. From the tone and content of the messages, it appeared that Ms. Plame was someone who did not pay her bills and did not update her phone number with all her creditors.

Finally, I got fed up and changed my message to – “Hi, this is Athena Carson’s voicemail. There is no one by the name of Valerie Plame here, nor do I know how you can reach her. So, if you leave me a message for HER, you would be wasting your time. IF, however, you would like to leave a message for ME, that would be great. Please leave me a message and I will get back to you as soon as I can. Thanks!”

A couple of my friends told me later – “Gee, Athena, you sound really irritated in your voicemail greeting.” Ya think? However, I achieved the desired results. No more messages for Ms. Plame. Great success!

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Ai April 10, 2012 at 10:37 am

Lord, I can so relate to OP. I have been receiving e-mail for THREE different people, and none of them are me. We all have the same last name, and different first names (but same initials), and my e-mail address is in the form FirstInitialSecondInitialLastname@BigEmailProvider.com.

One isn’t difficult. She’s a grad student who gets e-mails from professors and academic mailing lists. I reply to the person who sent the e-mail and I tell them their mistake. They usually reply very nicely thanking me, and then I never hear from them again.

The second one is harder. She’s a clerk in a Singaporean trading company and we share the exact same name. She deals with salespeople in China, and occasionally suppliers use the wrong e-mail address. I reply and tell them their mistake, and I have gotten used to CC-ing the Singaporean “me” so she can make sure the suppliers get it right. However, one salesperson J has decided that I am apparently a GREAT sales lead and constantly e-mails me. After two more “no, I’m NOT in Singapore and I am not your customer” he got added to my permanent e-mail filters as an auto-delete.

The third one DRIVES ME NUTS. He’s a guy whose short name is the same as my two initials together. I get e-mails for his children under the COPPA act and replying to those doesn’t help because they bounce (automated mailbox). I get his shopping confirmations (again, replying bounces.) I got his brother e-mailing me (finally, someone who can pass the message back to the guy and tell him he’s been giving out the wrong e-mail address!) Yesterday, I got an e-mail because this guy had activated his pay-as-you-go cellphone. I now have a telephone number in Canada, and a street address. I don’t want to call Canada just to tell the guy to stop, but at least I know I can.

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Lindsey April 14, 2012 at 1:15 am

I know people are saying this is probably just a mistake, but it actually would be a good (and extremely rude) way of dealing with spam from companies and other things that ask for your email address. Since the emails don’t bounce and the spam gets filtered out or deleted, the places he’s given the email address to never have a reason to think he’s misleading them, after all, and he doesn’t have to deal with any information he doesn’t want. Sure, he COULD create another email address just to hand out, but some people are extra lazy.

My own experience, for example, was a rude one–I got a new phone number when I moved a few years ago and someone kept giving that number out as “her” phone number. To crazy, scary guys who would call me up, not believe that I wasn’t her, and threaten me (I’m a single female who lives alone, so this is pretty freaky). I also got yelled at by people in Spanish quite often, particularly one older woman who obviously spoke enough English to understand when I told her “wrong number” (I speak a little Italian, so I got the idea of her rants, though I didn’t understand any of the details). Some of them did believe me and I’d ask them to tell her to stop using my number, but it never happened and after a year of that I changed my number. I mean, maybe no one ever called her out on using the wrong number, but the fact she didn’t check to make sure it was an active number was beyond rude.

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Angela June 14, 2012 at 1:15 am

I would just ignore and delete them. I know it would be annoying, but seriously if you’ve told these businesses several times and the guy several times that it’s a mistake, you’re wasting your energy and breath trying to rectify the matter/ mess with the guy’s appointments and what-not. Just let him deal with it himself.

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Angela June 14, 2012 at 1:18 am

And yes, similar has happened to me. I got a T-mobile number temporarily a few months ago while I was on holiday in the U.S. and I kept getting these voicemails from University of Kentucky about student loans and even a prestigious arts school saying they were trying to reach ‘Ali’ and reminding him that he needed to pay his tuition/ speak to the principal. I just deleted them.

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