Saturday, March 22, 2014

Perils of simple email address

When gmail had started, for the first few months, it was through invitation only. I was lucky (at least so I believed till recently) to get an invitation early on, and I could choose a really simple user name. When I tell my email address, many people are surprised, how did you manage this is a question that I have answered hundreds of times.

But over a period of time that simple user name has caused me to receive many interesting emails of others. I regularly receive requests to book airline tickets (apparently there is a travel agency called Sanghi Travels). I get asked questions on the prices and discounts on offer on various car models (apparently there is a car dealer called Sanghi Motors). I used to get invitations to a school party in Michigan. I later found out that there is one Ms. Sanghi teaching in that school. I even get threats to cancel my cable TV connection. There is one Mr. Sang Hi in US who perhaps has a dispute with his cable TV company. I get a daily feed on how my day is going to be from some astrology site, which is addressed to a girl whose last name is Sanghi. She or rather I also get many marriage proposals from boys. But regular mails from a fixed From address are actually easier to handle. Just a filter in google mail take care of that. Recently, I started getting many resumes for jobs which were advertised by a Chartered Accountant named Mr. Sanghi in Mumbai. Vodafone and Airtel believe that I am defaulting on their bills, and from Vodafone, I get about 15 bills every month, which should be going to someone in Gujarat. (But, again, google filter has taken care of this particular problem.) Thankfully, most mailing lists have now made it mandatory to verify email addresses. So I get a few such emails in which I have been added to the lists, and asked to verify. Earlier, I was directly added to mailing lists, and it would take time to get out. I get a receipt every month for payment of bills from Tata Docomo. For a change, someone is paying the bill regularly.

Another issue with a simple user id is that the same id on a different domain is assumed to be mine too. So a student in IITK who has the same user id in the domain get a pretty large amount of email which is meant for me, all sorts of stuff which I am sure he does not enjoy reading. So my simple user id is not just affecting me, it is affecting him as well.

When I get the offers of millions of dollars from folks around the world, I don't respond to them, because I am sure those offers are for some other Sanghi. May be one day, I will tell them that I am the right Sanghi, and see what happens.

And today, Aam Aadmi Party has thanked me for a donation. That prompted me to finally write this post. They would lose a supporter today when he finds that AAP does not send an acknowledgment for donations. It is very unlikely that he will blame himself for typing the wrong email address.

Added on 23rd March, 2014:

A couple of other examples. My bank gently warns me that it is not a good idea for different account holders to have the same email address. An airline's frequent flyer program insists that the email address of two separate flyers should be distinct.