I began to use Gmail in 2006.

I've written about Gmail a few times since then. Whenever I write about Gmail or anything else some fine folk disagree with me so much they want to put me right.

It was the same with each Gmail piece.

I'm afraid I ignored them.

I now have 800,000 transactions spanning thirteen years.
  • Every email in or out to any of my many email addresses spanning four countries.
  • Notes to myself.
  • Every payment received or made.
  • Every sale and purchase.
  • Every significant event.

Gmail acts as my free CRM - Customer Relationship Mangement system. CRMs track your relationships with customers and suppliers. Gmail does this better.

Last month I bumped into a challenge with PayPal. I misconfigured one of my platforms. A receipt of $1000 went missing.

PayPal would not tell me where the money went. PayPal doesn't have account numbers. They use your email address to identify your account. they wanted me to tell them each email I had ever used.

A quick search of my Gmail history identified 11 email addresses linked to several PayPal accounts over the years. (Each time Paypal receives or sends money it emails a notice.)

Then, for each of these email addresses, Paypal wanted the phone number tied to the account. A quick search of Gmail identified those as far back as 2006. (In my email signatures.)

And then they wanted the last four digits of the bank accounts or cards associated with those accounts. I had some old bank statements stored in Gmail and Google Drive covering most of those. (Hint to self: Do that each month.)

The hunt took ten calls, about 6 hours, but "we" found the thousand dollars. I logged into the ancient account, transferred to the right place, and I spent it. Rather joyously, if I may say so.

Whenever I get a call or an email from somebody long past, I can identify every communication between us over the past 13 years. I sound as if I have an incredible memory. Frankly, it's waning fast. Gmail compensates by working more quickly.

There is one other reason I like Gmail. The South African government has the right to investigate your ISP and dig out your emails. That's of course if your ISP hasn't mistaken them for spam and thrown them away. (An enduring South African problem.) Gmail won't divulge anything.

I now suggest a Gmail address to all my clients, especially if they're building an online business. It's another shield against a greedy government or an ambitious attorney.

Enjoy your week.

Warm regards

Peter