I'm getting someone else's Amazon email. I don't know how to make it stop. Someone help me.
Back in September, I received an email from Amazon addressed to someone who shares my last name. It was a receipt for a free Amazon app store download. Mythology Slots - Vegas Free Slot Machines Casino, to be specific.
The email wasn't spoofed. I wasn't being phished. This was a plain old automatic blast from Amazon Digital Services. A few hours later, I got a similar email about another of this person's downloads: Jackpot Party Casino - Slots HD. For simplicity's sake, let's use the name Carl.
Unfortunately, Amazon's automated emails don't offer any way of unsubscribing from Carl's receipts or flagging that I'm not the right recipient. The last thing the email says? Don't respond to this. No one will ever see it. It's right there in the email address: digital-no-reply.
I was immediately confused about how this sort of thing could happen. The emails were coming in to one of my Outlook accounts. I'd registered it back when Microsoft made the switch over from Hotmail. How could the same email address possibly be linked to Carl's Amazon profile? I've reset the password more than once; there's no way Carl has been able to access it for the last five or six months. I never saw an email asking me to verify or confirm a new Amazon account. Isn't that sort of thing required in 2014?
Apparently Carl hasn't noticed a problem. The emails haven't stopped. It's now December, and while Amazon's never flooded me with download receipts, I can count on seeing one every other day or so. (And to be clear, I'm only getting emails about apps and not Carl's Amazon.com orders.) Carl downloaded Facebook, so he obviously owns a Fire tablet. Maybe even a Fire Phone. Who else downloads Facebook from Amazon?
I've come to understand more about Carl. Apparently we're both fans of professional wrestling; I know this because Amazon alerted me that Carl had downloaded the official WWE app. Carl followed that up with a download of WWE SuperCard, a collectable card game (played on smartphones) that lets fans trade around John Cena, The Rock, and Brock Lesnar among others, and send their favorite grapplers into battle.
On Wednesday, Carl spent 299 Amazon coins to purchase Five Nights at Freddy's. I have absolutely no idea what that converts to in US currency, but it's the first and only "paid" app purchase I've seen Carl make. For the most part — like millions of other consumers — he sticks to the free stuff.
But why should I know that? I don't like knowing that. Why am I suddenly a spectator of a total stranger's download habits? Nothing that Amazon has sent my way has been scandalous or out of the ordinary, but it still makes me feel strange. I don't want or need to know what Carl's doing with his Fire something or other. These emails aren't mine to read, but there's no easy fix. I tried shepherding the misdirected emails to my spam folder, but they still managed to slip through. So late last week, I set out to set things straight with Amazon support.
You are now connected to Amazon.com
Me: Hello. I'm receiving emails to another of my email addresses (******@outlook.com) addressed to a "-----welch." I am not Carl, and I'm not sure how this Amazon account was tied to my email address. I'd like the emails to stop, if possible.
Amazon rep: Hello, my name is Amazon rep. I'll certainly try to help regarding your concern. I'm sorry that you are receiving an e-mail that is not for you. Let me go ahead and help you with that. Allow me one moment to research this a bit further for you. Would you verify to me the name associated on this account, *****@outlook.com?
Me: the emails are addressed to "c-----welch" But I am not him. Most recently, I got an email about: Angry Birds Transformers, purchased on December 11th.
Amazon rep: I understand, do you know who is c-----welch?
Me: No. No I do not.
Amazon rep: I understand. As far as I know, the system on the computer allows only 1 email address, if there's an existing same email address, it will not go through then. The email address that you provided me stated the name of Carl Welch.
Me: Yes. But I own that email address, and I am not c----welch. Thus, these emails are spam — and also sharing his purchases with a stranger.
Amazon rep: I see.
Me: So this email account must somehow be unregistered from Carl's Amazon account. Otherwise I will keep seeing those purchase details — which I should not have access to.
Amazon rep: I do understand. Here's what we are going to do, since without seeing the message, I can't determine its origin. But you can provide a copy via the following link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/contact-...(See full link) Click the drop-down menu and select "I am reporting a spoofed e-mail." For more information about phishing, please visit our Help pages: http://www.amazon.com/phish
Me: Here is a sample message: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/236...(See full link) This message definitely originates from Amazon.
Me: So just to be clear, here's the situation. I have my own Amazon account at *******@gmail.com. My name is Chris Welch. There are no issues with that account. But I'm receiving these emails to another of my email addresses. And these Amazon emails clearly are meant for "c-----welch" and not for me. I just don't know who he is.
Amazon rep: I understand
Me: If I report a spoofed email, it only allows me to choose my own Amazon account email (******@gmail.com) I have no way of selecting the Outlook account. Also, these are definitely not spoofed emails. They're from Amazon. They're just going to the wrong person.
Amazon rep: I understand. One moment please. Thanks for waiting. Here's what I will do, I will send this concern to our account specialist.
Amazon rep: Thanks for your cooperation on this matter. May I have the following information: Name, name as it appears on their billing statement, Billing address on file with debit/credit card company, Contact phone number, Billing address phone number and you may provide any additional comments.
Me: Chris Welch, *********. Again... I am getting SOMEONE ELSE's Amazon emails to my email account. *****@outlook.com. I am not c-----welch. How may I get in touch with this account specialist?
Amazon rep: Thank you. You'll receive a confirmation once further research was done. Thank you for your patience.
Me: How long might that take?
Amazon rep: As of now, I don't have the information.
Me: Okay. Is there a case number for this conversation or something? I don't want to have to explain the whole situation again. Surely you understand.
Amazon rep: I understand. You may have a copy of our conversation after you ended the chat. The next representative can be able to see aslo our conversation.
Theoretically I could reset Carl's Amazon password since the emails are being sent to my Outlook email address. It'd be easy. It'd also be wrong. It's not my Amazon account to muck with. It's Carl's. I'm hopeful Amazon's account specialist can restore order. Maybe I shouldn't be. A few hours after our chat, I got an email crediting me a refund for a Nexus 6 case I bought last week. Nothing was wrong with the case. The case has nothing to do with my Carl problem, and it never came up during our conversation. We're not off to a good start in resolving this, Amazon.
Where's the button or link to fix this mixup, or at least to trigger a review? I realize it can't be too common. It's a total fluke situation, really, but Amazon's current customer service setup offers no clear path to resolving flukes. No obvious way of routing Carl's emails back to Carl instead of Chris Welch. I can (and did) unsubscribe from promotional emails, but I can't turn off these receipts. I can't change my email preferences since it's not my account to log into.
I won't give up, Carl. Whoever and wherever you are. Good luck at the slots with your Fire Phone. And oh, I was briefly getting your Pinterest emails too. Thankfully, those were much easier to unsubscribe from.