A portion of Gmail users recently got a little something extra with their email: repeat deliveries. In particular, over a period of up to 5 days, emails of various ages kept being dispatched to the same recipients, sometimes multiple times per day. Aggrieved users of the free service -- but which is also the webmail client for the Premier Edition of GoogleApps, for which subscribers pay -- hit the Google support forums. Many complained that their emails kept getting re-sent even when deleted from Gmail, resulting in spam warnings and getting their email addresses blacklisted.
Awkward situations also seemed to abound. One user complained that an email previously sent to the "alert all hands" company pager number was resulting in all-hours pager alerts for every company employee. Another spoke of their email recipient's IT department, not expecting the problem to have originated with Google, going over its own email servers with a fine-toothed comb. Google acknowledged the problem early Thursday morning and apologized, noting that "we're experiencing an issue affecting less than 2.5% of the Google Mail user base," which prohibited users from accessing Google Mail, and for some, also resulted in their messages being re-sent.
"We are working to implement a fix for this issue, after which point some of these messages may be re-sent one final time," said Google.
Even 2.5% of a Google service's user base, however, is sizeable. Indeed, by one estimate, Gmail had 176 million users in December 2009, meaning that over 4 million people may have been affected. By Thursday night, Google said it had fully resolved the problem. "No more duplicate emails should be going out at this point and new messages you send out now should not be affected by this issue," according to a support forum post by a Google employee identified as MrEvan,
"Sincerest apologies for the inconvenience this has caused you," he wrote. "While I can't take the messages back with some sort of magical Undo Send, I totally sympathize with your situation."