I am happy to report, my efforts are showing. I’m down now to getting maybe one credit card offer per week between my wife and I. Other junk has also cut back quite a bit, to the point where usually once a week my mailbox stays empty all day. As my requests to be removed from lists continue to filter through I expect that to get better.
And while I appear to be winning the war, there are some battles I am losing. The Golfsmith is a hateful spiteful company and I call on people to boycott them. My attempts to get removed from their lists have instead signed me up for more lists. I get at least one mailing per week now, correctly addressed to me, sometimes two. In addition, I’ve had to block them on my email since they decided to send me more than one email per day advertising their wares. My attempts to get removed from the email lists have been about as successful as getting off the real mail lists.
They do appear to be the only company so far that has done this. Most companies, at most, will ask for a reason why and I just say “I would prefer not to receive the mailer as I do not shop regularly at your store.” That seems to be good enough. If they press I’ll tell them I usually throw it in the trash and would prefer they save the money and my time and not send it to me. With the Golfsmith it appears that I may have to actually have to go to their distribution office and physically force someone to delete my address from their database.
When I began to undertake my quest of removing unwanted junk from my life, I guess I never considered how much other people might want to send junk to me. While I would never ever in a million billion years shop at the Golfsmith and would prefer to never get catalogs or coupons from them, they apparently think that sending me unwanted catalogs and coupons is worth the expense to hedge their bets on the minuscule chance that I might change my mind.
My previous experience with them was that I contacted them directly and asked for my address (with my house’s old owners name) be removed from their mailings because I did not want them. And I thought I was successful because the mailings from them (sometimes two or three a week) stopped. But lo and behold, I reach into the mailbox today to find a new Golfsmith catalog. The only change is that it is now addressed to me instead of the old owner.
Obviously, since I’m already not a customer, ignoring me and treating me badly won’t hurt them… or will it? Like the website says… Probably not. I don’t wield enough consumer power to hurt their bottom line, but I can say for certain, at this point, even if I one day do decide to pick up the game of golf I will never shop at the Golfsmith. They’ve lost any chance of ever winning my business.
Right now, I’m experiencing a respite in the deluge of junk mail. My efforts appear to be working. I think I’ve only thrown out maybe two or three pieces of junk this week. But is this Golfsmith ad a sign of things to come? Will I never be able to escape the junk since they will send it to me even when I ask them not to? And do I have any recourse if they continue?
For now, I’ve emailed to the Golfsmith again asking them to remove me from their mailing list. We’ll have to see what happens next.
Furthering my pursuit to stop junk mail, I have begun attacking the mail that I get that it addressed to previous residents of my home or people who have never lived here.
The first step is the catalogs and coupon mailers that come addressed to someone else “or Current Resident”. One previous tenant was a golfer, I’m not, so the weekly (sometimes twice weekly) fliers from the Golfsmith has to go. The fliers contained no information for opting out of their mailing list, no phone number to call, except the local store who informed me that they were not responsible for the fliers and he wouldn’t give me the main office number. But in the age of the Internet, this didn’t stop me. I went to the Golfsmith website and used their contact page. After a few emails back and forth trying to make the customer service team there understand that I hadn’t ordered anything and just wanted off the mailing list, they finally got it and have claimed that I have been removed.
Thankfully, that was the hardest one to deal with so far. Others have immediately understood what I wanted and responded accordingly, so the catalog of horrifically expensive watches should stop, the fishing catalog, and handful of others should stop within the next few weeks.
Next to deal with are the real mail items for other addressees. Legally, I can’t open their mail to find out if there is a contact number. Nor am I supposed to just throw it out. According to the post office, mail not addressed to me should be marked “Not at this address” and left in the mail box. I’ve been doing this for almost a year now and they still deliver mail for the same wrong people. I suppose I may just have to live with it.
The last thing to deal with is random junk mail, usually for local businesses or those packets of coupons for services I don’t need from companies I’ve never heard of. This level of junk is called Direct Marketing, and there just happens to be a Direct Marketing Association and they publish a method to be removed from their lists. You can find the instructions here. Now, unlike the prescreened credit offers I posted about before, being removed from this list isn’t free. It is going to cost you $1 per name/address combo you want removed. But $1 is worth it to me, not only to stop me from getting this junk, but possibly reducing the amount of this junk that gets printed.
The fight against junk mail continues…
Every day I go to the mailbox with a small sense of dread. Not for any bill that I am expecting, but the glut of junk I know I will find there. On average, I get one piece of “good” mail every three days, and ten pieces of junk per day. What an amazing waste.
So, I decided, rather than just continue to drop these things in the trash or the recycle bin, I am going to try to get them to stop sending it to me at all.
The first step is going to be the easiest, and also the one with the most affect (I hope). A large percentage of the junk I receive comes in the form of credit card and mortgage loan offers. Last week I finally decided to read through one from top to bottom and see if I could find a number to call to make them stop. Eureka! At the bottom of the page was a section about prescreened credit and loan applications. The Consumer Credit Reporting Companies (Equifax, Experian, Innovis and TransUnion) provide a web page that allows you to opt out of their prescreened credit efforts for five years, or forever.
I have chosen to opt out myself and my wife forever. The request forms go off in today’s mail, so we will see how this goes.
Anyone familiar with my blog here may notice that I have added a new category, A Little Less Junk, for this post. In the future this category will contain my efforts to stop as much waste in my life as I can. I’m not some super eco-nutjob, but I’ve come to realize that there are many things I can do which would make me happier in my own life, while also maybe helping out the world a little.