Today I received an email to my Gmail address from a strange building manager. He asked for more information about a complaint I apparently had made via an online form. Before I even looked further into the email I knew what the case was: The person, called Mervi Eskelinen, filling the online form had given the wrong email address. This wasn't the first time for something like this happening. Just a little while ago I was emailed an electronic train ticket with a students discount, a ticket I obviously hadn't bought. I have also received information about a senior's gymnastics class being rescheduled, photos from a sports event and then some. One time, not that long ago someone wrote me a lengthy email with many personal details. It was really depressing read. Fortunately I realised after a couple of lines that the email wasn't meant for me, and responded accordingly before trashing it.
Thus there's a case when the sender has gotten the email address wrong. They are emailing to another Mervi Eskelinen and expect their Gmail to be firstname.lastname, as it often is. However there are multiple people with the same name as mine and I was the first one of them to get myself a Gmail address. Therefore that address is mine. Without thinking a moment the sender just chooses to send their email to my address.
More often the issue appears to be with the intended receiver. They have given a wrong email address, assuming their own address wrong. They have tried to register a firstname.lastname type of Gmail address for Mervi Eskelinen. Due to the address already been taken (by me), they have ended up with another address, but forgot it at some point. Their logic and memory keeps telling them their address is the one that belongs to me.
You are exceptionally unreliable, especially when it comes to tech, including the Internet. Apps and websites are generally pretty easy to use, and you have been lulled to believe you are too busy to take a moment to think. So when you are given a form to fill, choices to make, a task which takes more than 8 seconds to accomplish, you go to your happy place and mistakes happen. Smaller mistakes are okay. Then there are bigger mistakes, affecting your finances and life. You won't be happy when the train ticket you bought ends up in the email of a complete stranger, who just happens to have the same name as you. The mistake didn't occur because of a technical issue, something out of your control. It occurred because you don't remember your email address, or don't bother to check the information you give.
In case you happen to be a Mervi Eskelinen, next time you share your Gmail address, do check which address you gave. Don't give mine, it won't do any good to you. And even if your name is nothing like that, go on and take your time giving and checking the information. Most likely you got something wrong. Is the street address you wrote there your current, or did an old one pop into your mind? Did you misspell your email address? Is that really your name, or did you just have a goldfish moment, and completely forget it? Stop. Think. Repeat.
Most of all, if you are creating an online service or a product, remember that your clients and users are unreliable. They will give wrong street addresses, wrong email addresses, wrong countries, phone numbers and just fumble around like they were doing anything the first time. Whenever something takes longer than a couple of seconds, the clients and users are likely to mess up, if they didn't leave already. You might think it's only the case with free, non-serious things. As that idiot, who got their e-ticket sent to my email demonstrates it to you, there are those who are as casual with their money and more serious stuff as anything else. It is not that you shouldn't make them think. It is that they are choosing not to think at all.
Whatever you are doing, you are doing it for and with a bunch of silly toddlers, who storm around haphazardly, without even knowing their own email addresses.