Monday, July 2, 2007

Day Twelve - Junkin' the Mail

Putting an End to Junk Mail

OK, this one is NOT for the faint of heart. Although I've been wanting to do this for a long time, it is so friggin' difficult that I've kept putting it off. I got a call from my sister today wanting to know how, so for Shannon, here we go...

Each year, junk mail causes the destruction of about 80 million trees, wastes 28 billion gallons of water, and costs about $450,000,000 of your money to cart its promos, pleas and promises to and from incinerators, garbage dumps and recycling centers. That equates to about 34 pounds of junk mail for every man, woman and child in the U.S. It's like stuffing a whole tree into our mail boxes every year. Each of us will spend an average of eight months of our lives dealing with junk mail.

I have been saving up my junk mail for the past week, just to see how much I get and the grand total is: Two Pounds. Two pounds of ads, flyers, credit card offers, and other crap that I don't even care enough about to open. That means I our household receives 100 pounds of junk mail each year. Yikes, I have offspring whose combined total doesn't equal that. Well use any or all of the options below and you'll definitely see a reduction in the amount of Junk in your Box.


Go to Junk Mail's Birthplace

The Direct Marketing Association (DMA), the largest list broker in the US, sells your name and address to those wanting to target you for their product. The most effective way for you to shrink the amount of junk mail is to contact the DMA and tell them you want to get off their list. On a postcard or letter, put the date, your name and address, and sign it. (Include all variations of your name.) Tell them to remove your name from their mailing lists. Repeat the process for the smaller list brokers too. Here's all the information on them:

Direct Marketing Association
Mail Preference Service
P.O. Box 643
Carmel, NY 10512

R.L. Polk & Company
Name Deletions, List Compilation
Dept.6400
Monroe Blvd
Taylor, MI 48180

Val-Pak Coupons
Label Order Department
8605 Largo Lakes Drive
Largo, FL

Abacus, a Division of DoubleClick, Inc.
11101 West 120th Ave.
Broomfield, CO 80021

Database America
Compilation Department
100 Paragon Dr.
Montvale, NJ 07645-0419

ADVO, Inc.*
One Univac Lane
Windsor, CT 06095

Start saving the labels of all the variations of the names and addresses which come to your mail box. Every variation, no matter how small (or comical), is another name on a list which gets sold to literally thousands of businesses. Cut and paste actual mailing labels onto a sheet, make five copies, add your signature beside each name variation on each sheet, and send them off to each of the five addresses above. Indicate the following: "Please remove my name and address from your mailing lists and do not rent, sell or trade my name or address." To save time go to http://www.newdream.org/ where the letters have already been written - all you need to do is enter your name and address. It takes 3-6 months to see a mail reduction using this method.


Know the Magic Words

Avoid getting on even more mailing lists by taking care whenever you submit your name and address to anyone. If you're filling out a form such as a warranty, subscription, raffle, customer info card, credit card application, membership for an organization, etc. add the phrase, "please do not rent, sell, or trade my name or address" next to the other information you provide. Repeat these same magic words every time you're giving a company or organization your name and address over the phone, such as when ordering a catalog, a magazine, or making a purchase. The sales rep *should* then flag your name in their computer.


1-800 No Thanks

As soon as you receive a publication in the mail you don't want, call the 1-800 number located somewhere on the piece and ask to be removed from the mailing list (they will need information from the label on the catalog). Businesses and organizations are glad to hear from you if you're not interested in receiving their advertising -- it reduces their costs. Remember too that if you actually buy something from a mail order catalog, it increases the likelihood your name will be shared with other similar businesses, because you've just proven yourself an interested customer. So when you order, don't forget those magic words: "Please don't rent, sell, or trade my name and address."

If you cannot find a phone number, return the label portion of the mailing to their address with a note requesting removal of your name and address.


End Credit Card Solicitations

If you've ever filled out a product warranty card, purchased a new home or auto, supplied your credit information to a lending institution, or simply carried a credit card, you can be sure your name and address is being circulated among an array of credit card companies hungry for your business. Don't despair -- there is help. To eliminate credit card promotional mailings, call 1 888 567 8688 (that's 1 888 5OPT OUT). To ensure permanent removal of your name, ask for the special form available for this purpose. This is very effective.

For your personal credit cards, ask the company to place you on their "in house" list that is not sold or traded to other companies.


Return to Sender

If you've had it with companies sending you junk in the mail that you don't want, there is an option. If the mail has any of the following markings on it, the mail will be returnable to the sender, postage due:

return service requested
forwarding service requested
address service requested
change service requested

Mail sent to "Resident", "Current Resident", or "Current Occupant" can be refused if it contains one of the above endorsements, or is sent First Class. First Class Mail is returned free of charge. The only time this won't work is on mailings sent via Third Class Mail. If you write "return to sender" on these, the post office will just toss it and the marketer will not get the message.


When Push Comes to Shove

The most powerful legal tool consumers have when it comes to fighting this unwanted junk is a little known document called Form 1500. This form was originally intended to block unwanted pornographic mail, but in 1970 the Supreme Court extended its purpose. The form can now be used to stop any unwanted mail.

By filling out the form and attaching the specific piece of junk mail you want stopped, a company becomes criminally liable if it continues to send you mail or to sell your personal data to others. You can get a copy of Form 1500 by visiting your post office or by calling the U.S. Postal Service.


SAVINGS:

I'm hoping to see a 75% reduction in junk mail by year's end. That would save roughly 76 pounds of paper each year. It should also save me time sorting the mail!


DIFFICULTY LEVEL 5 out of 5

Yes, folks, this is not for the faint of heart. You want a clean mailbox, you gotta work for it baby! This one is a b%$@# to do because it's very frustrating knowing that it will take so long to get removed from the lists and you'll have to call so many companies. But, I think in the end it will be worth it.

Now who know how to stop Spam?

1 comment:

helenel said...

Also check out www.catalogchoice.org to remove your name from catalo mailing lists.