Saturday, May 2, 2009

How to Stop Junk Mail

I'm one of those people who hate junk mail. Apparently there aren't a lot of people like me because I routinely see people throw their junk mail away rather than try to stop it!

What I've been doing consistently for the past 2 years is making an effort to get my name and address removed from every piece of junk mail I receive. Yes, every piece of junk mail. And the results have been surprising.

The amount of junk mail I receive on a daily basis is markedly lower than my roommate's. I've found that there is more than a "linear" effect of getting removed from a particular company's list because companies that spam also tend to share addresses with other companies that spam.

Other things I've learned:
  • B&H Photo/Video has adopted the best practice of providing a URL right on the back of the catalog next to your address so that it is simple, fast, and available 24 hours/day to be removed. Good job B&H!
  • Frequent shopper/flyer/rewards clubs are the worst spam offenders. I've found that these literally write their policies in such a way that it is impossible to stop all of their spam. They consider spam part of being in the special club, since they are giving away their product for less than list price.
  • Pennysaver/Valuepak can be stopped! Those once or twice a week "mailers" that look like a tabloid newspaper or come in an envelope with dozens of coupons can be stopped with enough persistence. For me, it required phone calls, website form submissions, and snail mail papers with my signature one it. But, it can be done.
On a parting note, a friend asked me a good question, "Jonathan, are you sure you're not wasting more time by stopping all this junk mail than if you just threw it out?" I think even by staying within the bounds of the question it could be "yes" but when you consider additional factors like the environment and the time spent by employees preparing the junk it seems the time I'm spending is overall net positive.

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