Verifying addresses after POS collection

Collecting email addresses at point of sale is a challenge. Some stores collect the addresses electronically, where the clerk or the customer types addresses directly into the register. Smaller stores, however, typically collect addresses on a sheet of paper at the cash register. Eventually someone takes the list and types it into whatever contact management system the store maintains.

There are all sorts of errors that can happen when someone types in an address, but those errors are only compounded when the addresses are written on a sheet of paper for later transcription. Not all of us have perfect, copperplate handwriting and many of us have barely legible scribbles. In one case I had a sender read the tag in my email address wrong causing all their mail to me to bounce.

One person found an interesting solution to the problem of illegible addresses: using Facebook’s lookup to clarify illegible addresses.

To figure out what the addresses should have read, we turned to Facebook which allows you to search for anybody by the email address(es) they have registered (unless they have tweaked some privacy settings). We just kept trying to enter each address we weren’t sure about, permuting a few of the difficult to read letters each time, until Facebook returned a match.aprèsSci

Standard caveats about how the addresses verified as valid addresses may not be the addresses belonging to the store customers, but it is an interesting way to resolve the problem.


  1. Chris T. says

    That’s a great idea, just as long as the sender is an honest Joe and is not tempted to scrape addresses from FB. We deal with a number of small businesses that get heaps of bounces due to illegible handwriting. Good article, thanks.

  2. Neal says

    Integrating a email validation API like on from StrikeIron at the point of capture (POS in this case) improves data quality and email verification.

  3. Catherine Jefferson says

    I’ve heard some complaints about Strikeiron marketing to businesses that ran into trouble with Spamhaus, so I’d be cautious where they are concerned. However, the concept of email verification itself is I think a good one. With all the problems caused by typos at points-of-sale and in web forms, I can’t see any objections whatsoever to software that spots likely typos and prompts the user for corrections. Ditto software that spots likely accumulated typos on lists and puts them on a list for a COI loop before continuing to email them.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • Lost in the mists of time

    Over on the Farsight Security blog Joe St. Sauver talks about some of the early days of online abuse, on usenet. Laura and I were on the periphery of early usenet abuse, mostly as users, but Usenet (and IRC) around then were the places we both started with email abuse.No Comments

  • Ongoing Yahoo delays

    I've been hearing from folks over the last few days that they're seeing an uptick in deferrals from Yahoo! The deferrals are not uniform. ESPs report they're seeing some, but not all, customers affected. Other ESPs aren't seeing any changes. It's not just you. But it would be very worthwhile to dig into engagement and other stats. It's possible this is a new normal at Yahoo! and they're tightening filters to catch mail that doesn't fit their standards but was previously difficult to filter.No Comments

  • AOL starts using Sender Score Certification

    Good news for Sender Score Certified IPs. Return Path recently announced that AOL has joined the list of ISPs offering preferential treatment to certified IPs.  1 Comment