10,780 apologies


That’s how many emails you’ve sent me since Jan. 1. It’s 2.4 GB worth of feedback, problems, story tips and criticisms I didn’t see — until today.

Thanks to a mail server glitch, any messages sent to chris@elliott.org were deposited into a queue, where they remained, unread and unanswered. (I use another address, elliottc@gmail.com, which experienced no outages.)

How did it happen? It’s really hard to say. My webmaster has assured me that all the emails were being forwarded to my primary address, and had received a verification from his Google Apps account. Apparently “verified” doesn’t actually mean verified to Google.

(For those of you who are wondering if anyone warned me my email wasn’t working, they did. Repeatedly. But for some reason, Google always forwarded my own test emails to me without a problem, leading me to believe the problem was on the other end. Thanks, Google!)

Over the next few days, I’ll be responding to each email, offering my personal apology and asking if there’s anything I can do to help. I’ll assure them that I wasn’t ignoring them.

Not to belabor the point, but I read every email I receive. I respond to all of them.

For future reference, I have a form on my site that always gets to me. If for some reason I don’t respond to an email, use the form or call me directly at (202) 370-7934.

I’m sorry for the breakdown. It won’t happen again.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at chris@elliott.org. Read more of Christopher's articles here.

  • Jason Hanna

    Well.. There certainly needs to be some good natured ball busting happening over this.. But I just can’t think of a good way to start it off.. Anyone? The best I can come up with is something along the lines of “You’ve been hanging around the companies too long, their bad habits are starting to rub off on you..” but that’s just weak..

    “Google ate my email” is a little better, but not much..

  • teddybeargraham

    I sent in a complaint 10,779 times, so you can just send it back to me one time so no worries..

  • I’ve been going through them all afternoon. I feel awful.

  • Chester P. Chucklebutt

    Hopefully the readers of your site, knowing how hard you work, will accept your apology here. If not, probably the unreasonable folks that seem to pop up from time to time.

  • Scott

    Well, at least you have something to do on your next long plane trip (or car ride if you are the passenger).

  • John Baker

    That’s great Chris. My daughter’s school is moving toward using gmail and google docs for everything. I can see it already “But daddy, I did send the teacher my homework. Gmail must have ate it. See it does happen (insert link to this story)”



    I have been sending business emails with attachments to gmail and me.com users. They get the email but the attachments now get removed. Technology is great, except for all the times like now that it does not work. Good luck with the email.

  • marie3656

    I’m sure people will understand. Technical gliches happen to everyone. It’s how you handle it that matters and letting everyone know is all that anyone could expect.

    More importantly, that means that you receive about 1,200 emails a month! Even with an aggressive estimate of responding to 20 emails an hour, that’s about 60 hours a month of just reading and replying to emails. And that’s only one of your email accounts. How do you have time to actually handle some of the queries?? You might need to expand your empire or clone yourself. :)

  • Extramail

    Isn’t it wonderful that someone actually takes responsibility for an issue, even one that is not his fault, and apologizes? Trying to teach others a lesson, Mr. Elliott? I hope service providers take notice and thanks for the service we wish you didn’t have to provide.

  • ChBot

    Maybe time to use the services of a consumer advocate to get compensation from your providers !… :-)

  • Somewhere in some far flung airport is a skeleton draped with cobwebs of some poor soul who couldn’t get on a plane because of a code share problem (or because they had one too many G&Ts or because their frequent flyer status got revoked), bony fingers on their iPad “enter” button as they sent out an email to Chris Elliott hoping against all hope for a real-time resolution…

    Just kidding. We forgive you. Even posthumously.

  • mizmoose

    This is a big giant hole in Google’s mail system. If you have more than one Google account and send mail from one to another, *even if they are not linked*, you will often see them appear to arrive normally.

    I have a half dozen GMail and other Google accounts and this problem has driven me completely batty. I now have a few other email accounts, including ones that aren’t on the Big Name Services (Hotmail, Yahoo, Comcast, etc.).

    But then, I’m a professional geek.

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