Memo to on-line vendors: Please stop changing your e-mail addresses

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Technology
March 18th, 2004 • 2:16 am

With spam, viruses, and what not, it’s already hard enough to manage one’s e-mail these days.

In order to prevent Mail’s junk mail filter from making errors and flagging as junk legitimate e-mail messages coming from reputable vendors such as Amazon, I tend to create Address Book entries for such vendors, which I then add to a group called “Shopping”. And I have a rule in Mail that matches incoming mail against members of my “Shopping” group and change them to a specific colour. The rule uses the “Sender is member of group” criterion.

This way, whenever I have a new vendor to add, I just go to Address Book, create a new entry for that vendor in my “Shopping” group, and add their e-mail address. Automatically, the vendor will be added to the list of e-mail addresses that Mail uses in my “Shopping” rule to detect e-mail coming from legitimate vendors.

The trouble is, quite simply, that vendors such as Amazon have a tendency to use a large number of different e-mail addresses. For only, I have:


I have even more for and

Each time I receive an e-mail from one of these vendors that uses yet another e-mail address, of course my “Shopping” rule doesn’t catch it, and I run the risk of seeing Mail flag it as junk mail and move it automatically to my Junk folder. And I have to manually add the other e-mail address to the list of possible e-mail addresses for this vendor.

It would be OK if these e-mail addresses were stable. For example, I can understand the distinctions made by between order confirmations and shipping notifications. But sometimes it goes too far. For example, for the past couple of years, all the shipping notifications coming from have been sent to me using the address And that was fine with me. But now, all of a sudden, without any warning, they have decided to send shipping notifications from a different address,

Of course, this e-mail address was not part of my Address Book record for, and the message was not detected by my “Shopping” rule. Fortunately, it was not flagged as junk mail either. But still… Why the change, after two years?

Some would probably argue that I should change my rule and use a different criterion, one that detects any e-mail address that contains “” anywhere in it. This way, even if change their addresses again, they will still be detected by my “Shopping” rule.

There are several problems with that. One of them is that there are vendors who sometimes use addresses that do not contain the expected string ““, because they use a third-party for e-mail communications, for example, or some weird mailing system.

The other one is that, while I still have to maintain a record in my Address Book for each vendor (for communications from me to the vendor), this record is no longer used for communications from the vendor to me. For such communications, Mail uses the information typed out in the rule criterion itself instead. This goes against common sense, and is a source of redundancy, which further complicates address management.

The bottom-line is that vendors need to be a little more careful when it comes to their e-mail addresses. It’s OK to change e-mail addresses without notifying one’s customers if the customers don’t rely on these addresses. But user-defined e-mail filters do rely on such information. So it needs to be fairly stable. My experience, even with reputable vendors that have been around for a long time, is that they keep changing their e-mail addresses for no really valid reason from the customer’s point of view.

3 Responses to “Memo to on-line vendors: Please stop changing your e-mail addresses”

  1. brian w says:

    I use distinctive email addresses for every online service. Like brianvendorname at mydomain dot net. Then I can filter on the Delivered-To header. This has the added bonus of letting me know just who has been selling/trading my email address. Your point, of course, is still valid. It’s infuriating how many different weird “internal” domains and addresses large companies use (Chase Banking, I’m looking at you…).

  2. Pierre Igot says:

    It’s an idea. I guess I could try something like this, since I am the master of my own domain :). OTOH, it’s yet another list of things to manage… Plus the problem is not really limited to vendors… For example, the Roxio Mac newsletter has changed repeatedly as well. The last one I got was from “”. Ahem.

    The vendors are just a particularly problematic case, because some of their emails can contain fairly important information.

  3. Marc Bizer says:

    The problem is even worse for travelocity fare watcher reports. SpamSieve (which works with Mail) is really good at handling this sort of thing.

Leave a Reply

Comments are closed.