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Misaddressed Emails: Will Google Ever Provide a Forwarding Address Function?

Posted on Tuesday, June 11th, 2013 by Print This Post Print This Post

Categories - Featured, Social Media

spam email

How often do you receive spam emails? How about emails that are addressed to you, but meant for someone completely different? I’m talking about receiving personal and/or work-related emails that are meant for a person with your name, who mistakenly provided his/her friends, colleagues, and online accounts with your email address (not theirs).

Blame it on the common name (David is the 19th most common name), but over the course of the last couple of years, I have received an email for a different David Hughes to my Gmail account on about a weekly basis. These emails are meant for a real person, with a real email address, but somehow, they have confused their email address with mine and now, I receive emails from their bosses, co-workers, friends and family, and online accounts. Seeing that this can be conflicting when personal information is shared, I have intercepted some emails by responding that the sender has the wrong David Hughes. Generally, the sender is confused and insists that they have the correct David Hughes. Several emails later they usually agree that I am not the person they are trying to reach.

However, the real issue that I have with this ongoing confusion of ‘David Hughes’ email addresses is the flood of automated emails and newsletters from accounts to which another David is subscribed. Most times I am able to unsubscribe fairly easily but occasionally I am prompted to login into “my account” with my email and password. Unfortunately, I do not have the password, which means I am forever subscribed to some business in the UK or to a Florida real estate newsletter from a local real estate agency, etc. Marking the emails as spam has only worked to an extent—I still receive the emails to my inbox every now and then, which likely confuses Google’s algorithms, as it tries to figure out who I am and what advertisements/messages to target to me over time. This could not only impact the Gmail ads I am served, but also  affect Google’s general view of my profile and the last thing I want is for them to personalize my experiences with faulty data.

After many months of receiving emails meant for another David Hughes, I have become curious: Has this oddity ever happened to anyone else? And if so, how does one deal with the personal emails that are mistakenly sent to the wrong recipient? While Google is typically adept at catching obvious spam, they have been slow to learn which emails I do not wish to see or receive–even after marking them as spam again and again. Clearly, there is a fine line between the two types of spam emails (unwanted vs. misaddressed), but I am curious if Google will eventually provide users with a function to block or eliminate improperly addressed emails.

The constant flood of personal emails to my inbox is both bothersome and humorous. No, I am not interested in Florida real estate. And yes, I am sure that this is not the David you are looking for.

Have you ever experienced this mistake? I’m interested to know! Leave your comments below.

About David Hughes

David Hughes+ is the CEO, at The Search Agency - 11150 W. Olympic Blvd., Suite 600 Los Angeles, CA 90064 - Website: www.thesearchagency.com

David Hughes joined The Search Agency in early 2004 as Chief Executive Officer with hands on management for its product, technology, operations, sales and account management functions. Prior to The Search Agency, David served as Senior Vice-President, Corporate Development for United Online, Inc. He was responsible for developing and running all user acquisition programs, new products and services to be offered to NetZero/Juno customers, broadband services, developing and implementing search services and large strategic relationships. Prior to United Online, he was a Management Consultant with the Boston Consulting Group and an Associate with Mercer Management Consulting. David is a graduate of Harvard University's Graduate School of Business Administration, where he was awarded the Dean's Award for leadership, and the University of Western Ontario where he earned a Bachelor of Arts with Honors. He is also a past President of the Harvard Business School Association Club of Southern California and currently serves on its Board.

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5 Responses to “Misaddressed Emails: Will Google Ever Provide a Forwarding Address Function?”

  1. Erin Bradford says:

    I have the exact same problem! There is an Erin Bradford who lives somewhere in Kentucky and who doesn’t know her own email address, evidently. I get email for her all the time. My personal favorites were the weekly quilting newsletter and the invitation to the family reunion. The family reunion was one where I replied and tried to explain that they had the wrong Erin. That started a chain of replies where the sender repeatedly tried to explain our relationship – I’m your Aunt Jenny’s husband Bobby’s sister! Ok, but I’m still not related to you. :)

    • David says:


    • Erin, that is too funny! It’s good to know that this happens to other people also. Thanks for reading and commenting!

    • Neil says:

      I have the exact same problem. It seems every Ned, Nancy, Nathan, Neal and Neil who has an affinity for Quilting, Real Estate and Snapchat can’t remember their correct email address. Love getting there “forgotten password” emails as well. Not to mention the various family, bosses, coworkers who, on a daily basis share various personal and confidential information. I’ve given up trying to inform them of their mistake, I’ve wasted too much time arguing with morons who think I’ve somehow hacked their acquaintances email address.

      I finally had to abandon the address and move to something a little longer and more unique.

  2. Margarita Riera says:

    Hi! Good to know I’m not the only one. I get tons of emails every week for some other Margarita that is not me. For the personal ones I tried initially to clarify they had the wrong person but it gets tiresome after a while, not to mention all kind of newsletters and websites where I have never subscribed or even bookings added to my booking.com account that I never made. Like Neil, I will probably have to abandon the address and use something more personalized.


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