People of Earth: To Thine Own Email Address Be True

I have a fairly common last name. It’s not Smith or Jones or anything, but it’s been around the English-Speakers Surname Block a few times. And I have a very common first initial (i.e. not ‘Q’). Those two things — very common first initial followed by fairly common last name — comprise my email address with a popular webmail provider.

I guess I was an early adopter and scored an amazing username with them, because increasingly over the years I have received more and more email directed to people with the same last name as me, but a different first name beginning with the same letter. That’s fine; I usually just say, “Hey, it seems like you’re looking for a different [first initial] [last name], this is [first name].” And they apologize and move on.

Increasingly often, though, it isn’t emails directed at people who aren’t me, but account updates of some kind originating from people who have erroneously entered my email address as their own when purchasing plane tickets or ordering a book or, say, accruing points with a popular hotel chain. Thus begins our current tale.

I received my first email from the HHonors program at Hilton Hotels on November 7, 2008. Needless to say, it was not intended for me, but it was “My Way Account Summary and Deals” update. The email’s almost-illegibly-tiny footer warned me, “Please do not reply to this email. Mail sent to this address cannot be answered.”

So, adding insult to injury, I had to track down a contact email for these people. I politely informed them of the situation and “David” responded to me one day later. Clearly he had not read my email, however, because this was his response:

Thank you for your message to Hilton Reservations and Customer Care. It is my pleasure to assist you today with your request.

For security purposes, please respond with the United frequent flyer account number and birth date that we have on file for you.

Once we have verified your account, we will be glad to process your request.

If you have any further questions regarding your HHonors account, please don’t hesitate to let us know.

I replied:

I can’t supply you with that information since it wasn’t actually me who signed up for your program. Whoever [dude’s name] is, he erroneously typed in my email address instead of his when signing up. I suggest calling him to get the correct address.

Someone named Ursula responded to that message with:

As you have requested, your email address has been removed from our distribution list. Please allow 3 weeks for our systems to be completely updated. We appreciate your patience and understanding.

If you have any further questions regarding your HHonors account, please don’t hesitate to let us know.

I received my next HHonors missive a few days later. It was a mass mailing.

Dear people of Earth, please endeavor to remember your own email address. Thanks.

People of Earth: To Thine Own Email Address Be True

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