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Friday, March 14, 2008

Email 101

Had one of those fun little problems yesterday. User said that someone was sending emails to them but they were not receiving them. Question one - are they getting bounce backs? No. Are they sending them to the right address? Yes. What about the catchall account? What is that?

Okay there are two ways to set up email domains to take care of misaddressed email. Bounce back or catchall. In both cases we're assuming the domain is right just not the actual recipient. In bounce back the sender will get a return. In catchall the domain administrator designates an account to be the catchall and all mail that can't be identified to an individual gets sent there. Turns out the person with the catchall account wasn't there that day and no one had checked that email yet because "They were busy".

I was on site and looked and there they were in the catchall. This person (the receiver) has one of those name with ei in it that people confuse a lot. Swears they told the sender the right spelling more than once. You know a good way to resolve issues like this is for the recipient to send an email to the sender to get the correct address in their hands. The sender then needs to update their address book from that email. Just looking can be hard on easily misspelled names.

I was on the phone with the sender and trying to be helpful and pointed out the spelling mistake. Maybe they felt a little embarrassed over such a simple solution. Look we all make simple mistakes, myself included. I never try to make people feel foolish in spite the temptations at times but now they started making this worse. This company has two domain names, one they use for the public and one they use for emails and private web services. There was a good reason this happened but thats not the point. This person somehow had come across both, probably from reading the email header somewhere. They asked me which one they should send to (same user name, different domain). I told them they should use the main domain name but it didn't really matter as the one forwarded to the other. They ask again. Hmmmmmm....... this is a client of the company don't offend them. I simply say, "Use the main domain name". They insist on sending a test to each domain name and have a reply sent back. Let them have their way and hopefully they are happy.

Of course I hope you get the real point of the story. The easiest solution is usually to try to send mail back to the sender. In this case the sender kept using the address in their contacts and not seeing the misspelling. Updating from a received email would have been a better choice.