For many Minnesotans, direct mail – catalogs, flyers, advertising mail – is an interesting addition to the mail pile. But many consider much of it “junk mail” — unwanted and unwelcome.
Unwanted Mail At Home
If you are interested in “slowing the flow” of unwanted mail at home, here are some simple steps to greatly reduce the pile.
Mail Preference Services
Households can significantly reduce their advertising mail by through DMAchoice.org from the Direct Marketing Association. It’s easy to do, and you’ll be reaching some of the biggest direct marketers in the country with a single letter. Your registration will remain in effect for 5 years.
This service costs $1 to register, and the process is entirely online.
The DMA also offers assistance in opting out of unwanted email solicitations. Learn more about them on their Web site: www.dmachoice.org
The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) is a trade association of businesses who advertise their products and services directly to consumers by mail, telephone, magazine, Internet, radio or television. DMA doesn’t do mailings — but its members do.
Q: What does their Mail Preference Service (MPS) do?
A: The Direct Marketing Association will add your name and address to a “delete” file and charge you $1 for the service.
• DMA agrees not to use your name in marketing products and services.
• This registration can be renewed every five years.
Q: I like getting certain catalogs. Will I still be able to get them?
A: Yes. Mailers want to keep their customers. Ask your preferred mailers to include you on a list for “in-house” use only — a list not sold or shared with others.
Q: Will the service stop all advertising mail?
A: No. The MPS is a national service, but not all mailers use it. You may continue to receive mail from local merchants, associations, charities, political candidates, and generic “occupant/resident” mail.
Q: Can I register my business?
A: No. DMAChoice is for household mail only. Businesses must contact mailers directly to be removed from mail lists.
Learn more: www.dmachoice.org
Pre-approved credit card offers piling up?
The nation’s major consumer credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian, Innovis and Trans Union — have cooperated to offer services to help consumers get off lists for pre-approved credit card solicitations.
The services allow you to opt out for two years or permanently. No matter what you pick, the same services make it easy for you to opt back in at any time.
Either process will ask for your social security number, full name, address, and telephone number.
• Online: www.optoutprescreen.com
• Phone: 1-888-5-OPTOUT (567-8688)
Disposal tip. Make sure to rip up the application form before you discard it. This helps prevent “identity theft” and protects your credit and your privacy.
1. The site asks you to register online at www.catalogchoice.org.
2. Identify the catalogs that you are receiving that you would like to decline. (You’ll need your customer number from the catalog.)
Not all companies use these national systems to purge their mailing lists. If you are still getting “junk” from persistent mailers, you can contact the company directly and ask to be placed in their “do-not-mail file.” Look at the mail piece to see if there’s a number to call, or write them a note, send them an E-mail, or use their Web site. Here are a few thoughts on what to say and do.
Sample language: “Please remove my name from your marketing database. In addition, please do not pass along my name to others through mail list sales or trades. Thank-you for your cooperation.”
Most mailers will make an effort to comply with your request — they get to improve their database and ultimately reduce their costs. Even if you are frustrated, you’re probably just taking it out on a phone operator or staff person. If you don’t get results, you can consider stronger language, or contacting company management.
Have the mailing label or catalog handy. Give them the exact match for your name and address. They might appreciate customer ID numbers or other internal identifiers.
It may take some time to get your name and address out of their mailing cycle.
Keep trying. Drive home the message that your privacy is an important part of customer service. You do have the right to be left alone.
Unwanted Mail At Your Business
If you are interested in “slowing the flow” of unwanted mail at your business, here are some simple steps to greatly reduce the pile.
Businesses and institutions also receive a great deal of unsolicited mail, such as catalogs and advertising mail for products and services of all kinds. Even when these materials are wanted, there can be a tremendous amount of waste and duplication.Do These Sound Familiar?
► Mail for staff members that are long gone.
► Multiple mailings for the same person, often with small inconsistencies — misspellings, abbreviations — that make them seem like unique records.
► Poorly targeted mailings, such as office supply catalogs for the CEO or E-commerce seminars for your building maintenance staff.
Handling this unwanted mound of paper and plastic costs you money. There’s certainly a lot of paper waste which needs to be sorted and hauled away for disposal or recycling. But perhaps of greater concern is the amount of staff time you may have invested in handling and sorting all of this extra material. In one At one office mailroom, a six-week study showed that the mailroom staff was spending 25 percent of its time sorting Standard Class advertising mail.
Take Some Steps
Services such as the Mail Preference Service cannot handle the huge volume of records that commercial addresses would generate. Companies that want to work on the problem can follow these steps to try and reduce the amount of waste they receive through the mail.
► Ask for cooperation. Business-to-business mail is intended to generate income and solicit new business. When you get catalogs, advertising flyers, or offers from companies that you will not do business with, ask them to remove you from their list. Be courteous and professional, but make it clear that you do not wish to receive further mailings from them.
► Control your exposure. Data for mail lists is collected from many sources — purchases, conference registrations, websites, business cards. If it’s information about you, it’s likely to be used, traded or sold. Make it clear that you want to control this sharing of your information; make it an element of good customer service. Include a statement about preventing waste and protecting privacy on items like purchase orders, registrations for classes and conferences, and subscriptions.
► Practice good mail list etiquette. If your organization maintains databases or mail lists, be protective of your clients. Be very selective about how you use data, and offer listed parties the option of not being distributed.
► Keep your mail lists up-to-date. You waste money and time mailing materials to addresses that are no longer valid. Reduce waste…and conserve resources, too.
► Spread the word. A company or organization should let everyone know about the goal of minimizing waste from unwanted mail. If employees have personal items delivered to the office, make it clear that the catalogs and mailings that might follow are not acceptable. Are business cards best used to enter a drawing for a free lunch?
Find Out More!
Business Junk Mail Reduction Project
This project of the National Waste Prevention Coalition provides detailed information and tips to help your business or organization reduce unwanted mail.