Revolving emails

Early this morning, I started up my email client (Mozilla Thunderbird) and was told that I had 86 emails in one of my accounts.  Stunned by this revelation, I quickly clicked on the inbox for this account.  Every one of these 86 emails was identical.  I had received ONE email from a friend down in Australia and it was being replicated even as I read it.  By the time I finished reading the email and storing away the attached TGA picture, I had accumulated 17 more identical emails.  Total now being 103.

During the next hour I received around 30 more of them.  During the rest of the day, I got a total of over 250 emails, all identical to the first one.  Clearly, it was time to call the professionals.  I fired up Firefox and managed to navigate AT&T’s really convoluted web site to get to “Web Chat with a professional”.  The conversation:

him: “Hello my name is ……. how may I help you?”

me: “Hi, I have a problem with a repeating email continuously being sent from your server queue to my Inbox.”

H: “Oh, I am sorry to be hearing you having this diffuculty.  Please let me assist you in helping you to solve this problem”

(Eh?  Howzat? Two guesses which country I’m now in contact with.)

M: “At the risk of repeating myself – I have a problem with a repeating email continuously being sent from your server queue to my Inbox”

H: “Is it the same email?  if it is, do not open it because it is a virus.”

M: “No – it is NOT a virus.  It is a legitimate email sent by a friend and contains an image I need from him.”

H: “I repeat, sir, please not to be opening it, it contains a virus.”

(By this time I’m ready to strangle him)

M: “NO – it is NOT a VIRUS!!!!!!!!!  It is simply a message that, for some unknown reason, is being resent from your server to my Inbox.”

H: “I speak from experience, sir.  It is a virus.”

M: “My experience trumps your experience, man.  I’ve got over 45 years in computers – beat that!  It is NOT A VIRUS!”

H: “Yes, sir.  Is there anything else I may be helping you with now?”

M: “Yeah – my original problem – how about that?”

H: “I have told you repeatedly that it is a virus and not to open it.”

(Yeah, I gotta kill this guy.  If I could climb down the wire I would.)

M: “Okay. What do I do with the other 255 of them?”

H: “Delete them?”

M: “Fine – they’re gone.  Whoops, another one just popped up.  Shall I beat that one to death also?”

H: There is no reason to be rude to me.  Call this number for AT&T second level service (877xxxxxxxxxx).


I reach down to the floor, pick up my anger, which has been biting me on the ankles, and pick up the phone with a sense of foreboding that somehow I will get the very same guy – only this time in audio instead of a chat window.  I don’t.  Instead, I get a really nice guy who speaks English like a native.  When I ask, he’s from Georgia (that’s still in the US isn’t it?)

I repeat my original complaint and he put me on hold for about 30 seconds.  When he comes back, he asks if I would start up Internet Explorer and allow him to take control of my computer.  Hmmmmm.  I’m not altogether too keen on this, but I allow it.  First, I have to find IE.  I haven’t used it since IE2.3 but I know is has to be on my Vista machine somewhere.  Finally, down in a very unused corner of my hard drive I find it and get it running.

He gives me a URL and I enter it.  It allows him to assume control of my machine.  I watch as the cursor flutters, then steadies on the screen.  He bounces around a bit and then (over the phone) asks me where my task bar is.  I tell him to run the mouse to the bottom of the screen.  He does, and it pops up.  “Neat” he exclaims.  (Oh, great.  I’ve got probably the only kid in America that doesn’t know you can ‘auto-hide’ the taskbar.)

He types the URL for my web mail interface and it creaks open.  I’ve never used it since around the invention of the Internet so I am really surprised it works.  He clicks on the Inbox and it is immediately filled with around 50 or 60 identical emails.  “Whoops,” says he.  “Looks like you have mail.”

“Well, gosh,” says I.  “Looks like they’re all the same email doesn’t it?”

“Yup.  Sure does.  Is this what your complaint is?”

“Yup.  There used to be over 250 of them.  These just came in while I was flapping my fingers at the Indian guy.”

He proceeds to make the mouse pointer wander around the screen (which I watch like a hawk watches a mouse since HE is on MY machine) and clicks a few items.  He gets down into my email options and sets the offending email address up as SPAM.  This causes new incoming copies of the email to get routed to the SPAM folder.  “There!”  He proclaims.  “That will make it go away.”

“Yabbut (one word), what happens when he send me another email.  Won’t it get shunted to the SPAM folder?”

“Yeah.  Isn’t that what you wanted?”

I count slowly backwards from ten thousand to zero – by sevens – until I have control of my mouth.  “That’s not solving the problem – only forcing the email to a SPAM folder.”

“But you can see it every time you get your mail.”


“When you come to the web interface.”

“Sorry, weren’t you listening when I said I don’t use the web interface?  I use Thunderbird exclusively and get my email using the POP server.  The SPAM folder on the web interface is not emptied by my POP client.”

“POP what?”

(Uh, oh.  Big trouble here in River City.)

“Never mind.  Thanks for your help and have a good day.”

“Bye and thanks for using AT&T services.”

We hang up and I immediately check to see if I’m getting any more emails from my friend.  Nope.  They seem to have stopped for the moment.  I’m dreading taking his email address back out of the SPAM locker in fear of receiving all the backed-up emails stored there.  If I’m really lucky, however, marking it as SPAM might (just might) take it permanently out of the deadlocked queue and stop it from SPAMming me any more.





One thought on “Revolving emails

  1. Yeah, I’ve been on one of those support merrie-go-rounds. What they do is read from a pre-defined script and NEVER deviate from it. If it ain’t in the script, you don’t have it.

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