[Editorial Post - de WA9PIE]
Many operators use the popular forwarding email addresses provided by the ARRL. The format for these addresses is <callsign>@arrl.net. These are a handy way to ensure that email can continue being sent TO you if your regular email address changes. All you need to do is keep it up-to-date in the ARRL's system and you will not miss email sent to you.
This is all fine, but receiving email is not where the problem is.
The problem comes in when sending email to others where your registered email address is <callsign>@arrl.net and you send mail FROM something different, such as email@example.com or something.
Editorial comment: Some years ago, I was managing a few email reflectors for ham radio hardware and software. The most recurring complaint from subscribers to those reflectors was "I cannot send mail to the reflector. I can only receive email. Why?" Nearly 100% of the time, the problem was that they had signed up with <callsign>@arrl.net, but they were attempting to email the reflector from a different email address. As such, the system did not recognize the different email address as a subscriber to the reflector and it rejected the messages.
At HRD Software, we had a similar problem. Customers made a purchase using <callsign>@arrl.net and then had problems obtaining their software activation key, purchasing a renewal, or obtaining support, because the systems did not recognize the email address they were contacting us FROM.
Our systems were not purpose-built for ham radio. These systems do not understand the concept of "callsign." In fact, we have repurposed the "Company" field in these systems for containing your primary callsign. Therefore, these systems recognize you by email address as your "unique identifier." This isn't unusual as other online systems such as banks, insurance companies, airlines, Microsoft, and so on... often use the email address as a unique identifier.
As such, it's necessary for customers to contact us FROM the same email address that they used for their purchase. [There are ways to change the "Reply To" address to match the <callsign>@arrl.net email address. Less than 5% of the customers I see have done this. Most are either unaware that it's possible or do not want to fool with it, as it would change all email they send to the <callsign>@arrl.net reply address. It's worth considering that this forwarding service has had outages. During that time, no email can be forwarded.
We, at HRD Software, made a decision a couple years ago that we would not allow new customer account to be created with <callsign>@arrl.net email addresses. The purpose of this article was to describe the rationale for it. With the small support staff we have, supporting these kinds of email problems takes time away from our ability to help customers fully utilize Ham Radio Deluxe.
All of these points extend to other cases where forwarding or alias email addresses are used. This includes email addresses with a "+" sign in it to extend the email address as an alias, like the funny one I saw in our systems recently - firstname.lastname@example.org (not the real person's name, but you get the point).
We strongly recommend against using an alias or forwarding email address for any circumstances where the systems you are sending email to need to recognize you as a customer with a specific email address.