I’ve had my Yahoo! e-mail address since before it started–literally. I got this address when it was with a service called RocketMail, which was then bought in 1997 by Yahoo! who wanted in on the free e-mail business.
So, needless to say, I’ve been firstname.lastname@example.org for a long, long, time. And for some reason a few people have mistaken this address as theirs.
If you’ve read the entries here for a while, you probably followed with great interest the dialogue I had with the Lathrops of Gig Harbor, who had one member who didn’t realize that her address book used my address instead of the correct address for a family member.
So then almost two years ago, I started getting e-mails from AT&T, thanking me, Peter Lathrop, for joining their wireless service, and for activating my iPhone. I even started getting notifications that his bills were due. The dude lives in the Indianapolis area. I’ve got his phone number, and I’ve seen the balance due, and I even was sent the last four digits of his Visa card number.
Shortly after all of this started, I called AT&T to tell them they’ve got the wrong e-mail address for this guy. I thought it was an important point, since, you know, I wasn’t the one either with his name or with the desire to pay his phone bill. At the time, AT&T shrugged–in fact, three levels of customer support people basically shrugged at me, saying that it wasn’t their responsibility to make sure customer information was correct, and that they couldn’t make changes anyway to an account without authorization from the customer.
“Couldn’t you call him to verify his e-mail address?” I asked. No, they replied, they don’t call customers on issues like this. I sort of understood that, I mean, I guess I wouldn’t want someone calling my cellular provider (which is not AT&T) telling them to change the e-mail address on my account.
So I had one option left. Contact the dude directly. So I texted him, telling him that he should correct this mistake because my e-mail obviously doesn’t belong to him. No response.
I sent another text, telling him because of his e-mail address mistake, I had his phone number, AT&T account number, and the last four digits of his Visa card number, and if I were him, I wouldn’t want this information to be in the hands of a stranger. No response.
I sent him a last one, telling him the same information and that if he really didn’t care, that he should at least tell AT&T to stop sending him account information via e-mail. Again, silence from the Hoosier dude.
So I set up a filter to send e-mails from the AT&T customer service address to a subfolder. And I check it periodically when I notice new e-mails in there.
The guy stopped paying his bill back in November. AT&T sent their concerned but firm sounding e-mails then telling that they valued him as a customer, but needed him to send them money so they could continue to value him. I thought about texting him one more time, but didn’t.
Then in December, they disconnected him, with a less concerned and much more firm sounding e-mail, telling him that they just can’t keep his phone operational with him owing them about $470. Guess I couldn’t text him anymore.
Today, I got the uber threatening letter from the somewhat awkwardly named AT&T Customer Care telling him that his entire account has been cancelled, and that he still owes them $530. For giggles, I called the number, and yep, it’s disconnected. And from working with AT&T at work, I know that they do not unlock phones or release phone numbers unless the account is current. They’re kinda picky that way.
Part of me thought, very, very briefly, that perhaps this was his only method of contact with AT&T, and maybe he was wondering why his phone was not working, but had no way to call AT&T because he didn’t have their convenient 800-shakedown number.
So, kind readers, if you happen to see Peter Lathrop roaming the streets of Indianapolis, poking at his lifeless iPhone, please let him know of the situation.
Lord knows, I’ve tried.
See you tomorrow.