Junk Mail

I have a PO Box at the post office downtown. I originally got this box because I knew I would be moving several times in a relatively short amount of time. I’ve had the box for over a year now, and get all of my bills, magazines, and correspondence there. Of course, there is also a mailbox at my apartment, but no one has any reason to mail me anything there. So, you’d think it would never be used, right?

Wrong!

I get two to five pieces of mail at home each week. This is all JUNK mail. It goes unread into the recycling bin. I do like getting the Val-Pak coupons, but if the cost of getting that ONE mailing, four times a year is to get over 150 pieces of mail that gets pitched immediately unread, then I can do without that nice blue package of Val-Pak coupons.

At the PO Box I get five to ten pieces of junk mail each week. That count includes mailings from Guideposts Magazine about buying their books, multiple mailings from my alma mater (that I have already received at my office – twice!), and of course more of the same stuff that I’ve already received at my home.

Five pieces of junk mail a week, times 52 weeks, times three pages of paper on average per mailing, equals 780 pieces of paper. Add in the ink, the postage, the hassle in sorting out the chaff from the wheat, and I get pretty steamed. There is a wastebasket near the row of PO Boxes. Every time the Kroger’s flyer comes out, the waste basket is full of them. Can this really be an effective marketing tool? And to top it off, when you visit Kroger’s there is a large stack of these flyers at the front door. Hello, McFly?!?

I have started writing letters to various junk mailers asking to be removed from their mailing lists. The only response so far has been a nice letter from Kroger’s (a grocery store chain) saying that they get the addresses from the post office and there’s nothing they can do to remove me from the mailing list.

A very helpful web page I’ve found is How to Get Rid of Junk Mail, Spam, and Telemarketers. I have just started to follow some of the advice found on these pages. I’ll let you know what happens.

I’ve already done a few things. One thing I have already done is write to the Direct Marketing Association to get added to a list of people that do not want to receive junk mail or phone solicitations. What happens in this Opt-Out list is member firms of the D.M.A. get a list once a quarter and purge names from their lists. Of course, membership in the D.M.A is totally voluntary, so a lot of smaller firms (like Kroger’s) don’t join. But I think I’ve seen a small decrease in the amount of calls and junk mail I get.

Write to the D.M.A. at these addresses:

Direct Marketing Association
Telephone Preference Service
P.O. Box 9014
Farmingdale, NY 11735-9014

Direct Marketing Association
Mail Preference Service
P.O. Box 9008
Farmingdale, NY 11735-9008

In your letters (you need to send two), mention all telephone numbers that you want excluded, all mailing addresses, all variations of all household member’s names, and be polite. You should get an acknowledgement from the D.M.A. in three to six months that they’ve updated their records. It’s my guess that they’re so slow because it is in their own best interest to be slow in adding people to this service. After all, the direct marketers (the junk mailers) are hoping to make money off of you.

It is also not in the post office’s best interest to help you with minimizing the amount of junk mail you get. After all, they are getting paid to deliver the stuff. I would think that instead of raising the first class postage rate to 33 cents next year, they should raise third class/bulk rate by 3% and see if that allows them to stay in the black.

I also used to own my own business. I paid my taxes, kept receipts of deductions, learned a lot, and used a box at a UPS store for my mailing address. It looked a lot more professional than using a PO Box. I closed the business in 1996, but I kept the box open to see how much junk mail I would get. I still get ten to fifteen pieces of junk mail a week. The first class mail gets “Return to Sender” written on it; companies with 800 numbers listed get a call asking to be removed; and the rest gets recycled. I’m going to start writing to them and see what kind of response I get.

I also have an unlisted phone number at home to keep my phone number and address private.