I have a couple of webmail accounts. There’s the one I use for Important Stuff, like applying for visas, clawing back erroneously paid tax, and saving lives – and the one I use for everything else.
The reason I use two accounts is because everybody wants to spam me. Spam is just another form of currency. If I want to purchase item X or service Y from you, it costs me Z. But that’s not all it costs me. It costs me regular weekly emails from you and all your partners, and all the idiot companies you’ve passed my email address to.
I don’t want these emails. I don’t like them, I don’t read them. This crap outnumbers the number of emails that mean anything. What makes you think I read them, anyway?
For example, when I started renting a new place, I signed up with a cheap-ish utilities provider, and online billing. My payments go out automatically. The provider does their bit – providing me with power and heat – and I do mine – by not going into negative numbers on my account, so my bank will allow them to take their money.
I don’t want or need any further contact with these people, but every two minutes I get another email telling me about the services they provide; advice on how to conserve energy, warnings about water freezing in pipes, information on the best way to insulate my face.
If I were to read all these emails – along with the ones sent by the rail company I once used, the coach companies, the job-search sites, the people who make the biscuits I ate once, random radio stations, eBay and every single other company I’ve ever purchased anything from online – I’d have no time to eat, sleep, or get any procrastination done.
Anyway, the point it, I forgot the password to my spam-mail account. At least, I think I forgot it.
Actually, I’m pretty sure I didn’t forget it – I can still remember it.
But the webmail provider in question – let’s call them H0tmail, for the sake of any potential embarrasment – declared that my password was incorrect, and prompted me to reenter it.
So I reentered it.
H0tmail told me that my password was still wrong.
I tried a third time, but it still wouldn’t go through. At this point I started to doubt myself. Maybe it was capitalised, but I’d never noiced. Maybe I had been accidentally entering it with the correct capitalisation all these years.
So I tried again, with a capital letter.
At this point, Hotma!l declared that I had already made too many attempts, and my gripping tale enters its second act.
The Hotm@il password reset process involved answering a top-secret security question:
What is your favourite fictional character?
So, of course, I entered: ‘Batman‘.
Nope, they said. That’s not your favourite fictional character. At this point I started to laugh – something was clearly wrong.
I wondered once more about the capitalisation, and tried: ‘batman‘.
Nope, said Ho+mail.
What the fuck? I wondered. What kind of person am I if Batman isn’t my favourite fictional character?
I squeezed my brains in my fists, trying to imagine what other answer I might have given for this question… I soon ran out of ideas, and tried ‘Edward‘ in a fit of desperation.
Nope, said Hotmai7.
My imagination was failing me at this point, so I tried Batman again, but a big red error message declared I had made too many attempts at this too, and was now fucked.
Which brings us to Act Three – the climax of our adventure.
As we all know in our daily lives, contacting Customer Services usually involves nothing remotely like contact with any kind of service. I had to fill in a form I imagine was destined for some kind of robot rejection machine.
I was asked to fill in all kinds of boxes with my personal data. I knew I was screwed at this point, because I think I went through a point of lying about all my personal details when signing up for online services, due to accurate predictions about the volume of spam; paranoia about the Man watching us, my evil doppelganger, and all that.
I had to enter my password and favourite fictional character again – just to make sure I was sufficiently pissed-off. I also had to enter the subject lines of some emails I’d recently sent, and the email addresses of contacts I’d recently emailed – but of course, this was my spam account, and I never emailed anyone I gave a fuck about.
So I sent my sparsely-populated form off to 4otmail from Miss-Matic’s email address – I know her password from the time I spilled wax over her keyboard and used her fingerprints to work it out, and even if she’d changed it since her favourite fictional character is Batman – and there was now nothing I could do but wait for the epilogue.
The response from the automated Customer Service Rejection Robot came through a day or so later.
It said, in 72-pt bold characters: NO.
So, now I have to create a new spam-mail address and spend all day on the phone tomorrow, re-registering with my utility providers, eBay, the people who make the biscuits I ate once, and so on.
I’m really quite unhappy about this – I have coursework to do and this will cut into the pre-coursework procrastination I have planned. I suppose there are lessons to be learned though – a moral to the tale:
Check you have spelled Batman correctly.
Otherwise you may lose access to your spam collection.