Victory at Last – Take that Junk Mail!

by Sandy L on July 22, 2010

This post was inspired by a recent article from Everyday Tips.  One of the things Kris was looking to do was reduce junk mail as a means to simplify her life.  I volunteered to give my 2 cents. A few years ago I was being buried by mail and I’m happy to report it’s finally under control.

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4 years ago, I declared war on junk mail.

I started pretty simply. I labeled a folder “JUNK” and filled it up with junk mail.  Once full, I’d periodically call companies while watching TV and politely ask them to please  “take me off your list.”  I did this for about a year.  I was patient..very patient.  Each time I’d call, a customer service person would tell me “it may take up to 3 months to stop receiving mail because we pre-print catalogs.”

Okay, so I waited and after a year of being taken off various lists, I noticed very little reduction of garbage.

I may have won a few battles, but I was clearly losing the war. I needed more drastic measures.  After scouring the web, I finally  found this site and it eventually became my bible.

http://www.worldprivacyforum.org/toptenoptout.html

Here are the obvious steps:

  1. DMAchoice.org – get taken off direct marketing sites
  2. When you buy anything online or via catalog, ask them to stop sending you paper catalogs and make sure you uncheck any “contact me with specials” boxes.
  3. National Do not Call registry

Now the Sneaky stuff:

Anybody who you’ve ever given your name and address to has the option of sharing your name within that organization and “affiliate companies.”   This is a loophole. If you are or ever were a  customer to someone, you are exempt from the do not contact rules.  In that case, you must go to that company directly and request that they take you off their list and not share your info with 3rd parties.

My biggest offenders were the following:

  • Credit Card Companies (Citi for example has 8 million divisions and partners)
  • Mortgage Companies or any other loans
  • Any and All reward + loyalty programs. Frequent flier cards, hotel points, grocery store cards, etc.
  • Charities – Some are downright evil with the selling of your info.
  • Magazine subscriptions

And just because I’m anal, I wanted to track whether I was losing the battle with repeat offenders or if it was just my name being passed around like it was pulled off a bathroom wall.

Data on calls & letters it took to stop junk mail

Year # of requests to unsubscribe # of repeat offenders % offenders
2008 99 16 16%
2009 34 4 12%
2010 YTD 3 1 33%

So, for me, it took a solid year before my offers dropped by 2/3 and another year to do the last 1/3.  I’ve gotten religious about putting into the comments section of any purchase or charity “Please do not add me to your mailing list or sell my info to 3rd parties.”  That keeps the new stuff at bay.

Good Luck everyone. Be patient and don’t give up!

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Money Beagle July 22, 2010 at 12:57 PM

That’s all good advice. I think a lot of these places will always ignore the request, but at least you do what you can. I agree, Citi seems to be the worst. It seems that I get something from them at least every week, to the point where I have to be careful to not automatically throw away something important!

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Sandy L July 23, 2010 at 1:36 AM

Yeah, on that privacy site, there is actually a link to a form letter that says something like “even though you’re not obligated by law to respond to my privacy request, I still would like you to do so.” Citi did cooperate with my request, but I did have to put it in writing.

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Money Reasons July 29, 2010 at 2:53 AM

Congratulations on breaking the waste of junk mail! Someday, I will have to follow and do the same!

Kris is great huh, she’s on of my first blogs I read everyday :)

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Executioner August 23, 2010 at 4:38 PM

Registering at the site below has reduced almost 100% of the credit card offers I receive. I get maybe one or two a year now:
https://www.optoutprescreen.com/

It’s also possible to contact most companies online (using the CONTACT US link on their websites). Make a standard form letter and paste that into the text of the message. It works as well (if not better) than calling the companies directly.

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