Email Address Typos

There are few things that annoy me as much as the following scenario:

  1. Someone sends a message to me via a feedback form.
  2. I compose and send a reply.
  3. My message (the reply) bounces back because they mis-typed their email address.

Sometimes I can look at the address and figure out what the issue was (.cm → .com, etc.), but most often I am left with no way to respond.

This frustrates me on several levels. Whoever submitted the form is now under the impression that I did not bother to respond, when in fact I did. Also, I spent valuable time composing the response, which was time completely wasted.

I’ve thought about a couple of ways to address this, but none really feels like a solution:

  • Use mailto: links instead of contact forms. Rejected because we want to request people give us more information in what they send in. Also because mailto: links don’t work with webmail unless you’ve jumped through hoops.
  • Challenge-response. Save the message in a queue and send a confirmation email to the sender that has a link in it. They have to click the link to have the message sent. Rejected because it’s annoying and there is no good way for people to get back to their message if they did typo their email address.
  • A little inline pop-up confirmation that shows their name and email and says “this is how we should contact you, right?” when they hit send. I haven’t rejected this completely yet, but it does feel like an annoyance.

Does anyone have a silver bullet for this situation that I’ve overlooked?