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Bill Brown

A complicated man.

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I got my Gmail invitation back in June 2004 and was able to register my preferred username with no trouble. At the time, I was supremely excited to a) get an invitation to the great new service and b) get a username that is easily read out loud. I used it a little bit but soon got my own domain name (this one) and set up my own email address.

The Gmail account mostly just sat idle and I would use it sparingly—mostly on Web forms with terrible validation that wouldn't accept this domain name. In the last three or four years, though, it's seen a terrific increase in activity.

The problem is that my username can easily be used by every Barb, Barry, and Brandon. And they use it! For a while, I dutifully replied to email threads saying that they had the wrong email address. Once that became overwhelming, I just started deleting them en masse and reporting everything as spam.

Then I couldn't keep up with that. I now get about 10K emails a month that Google accurately deemed spam and I manually cull at least another thousand by reporting them as spam. That's irritating but not the most boggling part of this story.

Lately, I've been getting confirmation and "welcome to" emails. People around the country are using my email address for their accounts. In so doing, these people give me full access to their Dish Network, Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Redbox accounts. They are lucky that I'm a fine upstanding citizen, but you can't count on that in this day and age.

Today was the real shocker, which precipitated this blog entry. I got an itinerary confirmation from Priceline for a trip to Portland, Oregon! Who on earth attaches their travel plans to an email address they don't control. I'm flabbergasted!

[UPDATE (4/28/2013): Apparently I'm not the only one this has happened to.]