The first thing to check is that your email account is working properly. If you can still send and receive messages but are having trouble with a particular contact then your mail account is probably working fine.
It may sound obvious but a large number of failed deliveries are due to typing errors. An email address is made up of two parts:
- Firstly, before the @ symbol, the user's name - at Royal Holloway this is the person's full name, e.g. joe.bloggs or their initials j.bloggs
- The second part, after the @ symbol represents the place that the message should go to, e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org will be directed to the mail server for acompany.co.uk
Getting either part of an address wrong will generally result in the email being rejected and you should receive a message back telling you that the email was 'undeliverable'. You may get one of the following messages:
- "The recipient name is not recognised" - the first part of the email address is incorrect or the user account doesn't exist.
- "Unable to deliver the message due to a communications failure" - the second part of the email address is incorrect and the place you are sending it to doesn't exist or their systems aren't working.
Some mail servers will accept email even if they cannot find a user that matches the first part of an email address. This is quite common with accounts run by Internet Service Providers ('ISPs' e.g. Demon Internet) who allow unlimited mailbox names. If this happens there is no sure way of knowing if your mail has reached your intended destination.
What can you do?
- If you are sending mail internally at Royal Holloway use the global address list within Outlook to select email addresses. This is accessed by clicking on the 'To...' field in a new message window. You can then highlight a name and click on 'Properties' to get further details on the contact to verify that it is the right person in the right department.
- Check for typing errors.
- Contact the person by other means to verify the address.
- Visit the company/institution's website for contact details. If you don't know the web address then try using the last part of the email address prefixed with www. e.g. email@example.com would usually mean the web address is www.acompany.co.uk.
- Call or email the company/institution's helpdesk with the name and email address of the person you are trying to contact. They may or may not give these details out but you could try leaving your details with them.