Help! My Twitter Email Address is "Not Valid"

Heidi Reyes can't change the email address on her Twitter account. Can this consumer advocate for herself? Find out.

Question: I've been trying to change my email address with Twitter and have been unsuccessful. I got a message saying that my email address was already taken. I tried opening support tickets, but the replies haven't solved my issue. They were form responses with information that didn't exactly apply to my problem.

I also sent tweets to Twitter support, but didn't get a reply. I even sent a private message to a tech person on Twitter, but got no reply.

I did a search for the account using my email and I didn't find it. I don't know if the account has been suspended or if it has been deleted. If it has been suspended, then I can't use my email for my own account. Since this is the email I use most, I would like to be able to use it.

I'm at a loss as to what to do next, since the support tickets didn't address my problem and the tweets didn't get a response. Who would be the person to reach out to next? -- Heidi Reyes, Ames, Iowa

Answer: Twitter’s instructions for updating your account information are unambiguous. And they work. Except when they don't.

And in your case, they didn't.

Twitter ought to have a way to override the system when you aren't getting the help you need. I found myself in exactly the same mess with a different social network (hint: it uses the word "face") over awarding a little check mark to one of my accounts, an action that I've concluded is not only completely unnecessary, but also violates my privacy. Said network sent me a series of increasingly non-sequitur responses until I became convinced that I wasn't replying to real people. These were bots using unsophisticated scripts. How tacky.

At this point, I would supply a list of Twitter executives for you to forward your complaint to, but alas, it's such a revolving door, I'm not entirely sure who is in charge. Here are the Twitter contacts we know about.

Twitter uses a system that verifies your new email address, presumably to prevent someone who is not you from taking over your account. That makes sense. Overriding it -- and getting through to a live human -- is exceptionally hard. And since you're technically not paying anyone to be on Twitter, you can't threaten to cancel your account. Remember, when something is "free" online, you are the product.

I contacted Twitter on your behalf and you heard back from a live person. According to Twitter, your email problem has been fixed. I noted that you were active on your account, so I circled back to see if this problem had, indeed, been addressed. It had, but not how we'd hoped. Despite Twitter's promises to both of us, the problem was unresolved. Your fix? Keep the old email address.

Like I said, if it's "free" ...

Christopher Elliott specializes in solving intractable consumer problems. Contact him with your questions on his advocacy website. You can also follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Google or sign up for his newsletter.

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