Merry Christmas from Drowning in Junk Mail

Junk Mail Christmas Tree

I love Pinterest. You can find boards of pictures for almost anything there. There are even boards for junk mail. I also like to craft. But I am a lazy crafter who wants instant gratification.

 

I found this photo captioned as Junk Mail Christmas Tree. It is a great tutorial on how to make that very cute tree using book pages. It is also very easy to make.

All you need is:

  • A base container
  • Floral foam
  • A stick
  • Paper for the middle
  • Something cute for the top

Well I definitely have paper goods for the middle. And Michel’s has 50% off coupons this time of year.

crafting with junk mail

All this cost about $20. I think it was all on sale except for the foam. But that is where the 50% off coupon kicked in.

I trimmed down the foam so it would fit in the basket. Whittled down one end of dowel into a death spike, to stab the junk mail with. Stuck the dowel into the foam, and started to stab junk mail on to the dowel.

Junk Mail Christmas Tree

If I had to do it over again I would make sure there was at least one piece of paper folded in each envelope. The envelopes themselves are too floppy on their own. The folded paper would stiffen it up a bit for a straiter “branch”

I tried to have one white envelope and one envelope with a color or pattern, every other “branch” to give it some verity.

Junk Mail Christmas Tree close up

The ornaments are all from St. Joseph’s Indian School. I also stuck membership cards from various charities in between the “branches”.

Junk Mail Christmas Tree

I used fake poinsettias to hide the death spike at the top. I was really lazy and just taped the poinsettias to the top piece of junk mail. If you do this for real, break out the hot glue gun and do it the right way.

There you have it, my attempt at upcycling some recycled junk mail, crafty art project thing. This took me about an hour to put together. And it was good therapy to stab the junk mail onto a pike after dealing with it for almost a year.

Drowning in Junk Mail – This week in Junk Mail 20 pieces

All 20 pieces

The month of December has been interesting so far. The political junk mail has almost disappeared and the charity junk mail has ramped up.

I also finished my junk mail Christmas tree in true Drowning in Junk Mail style.
Junk Mail Christmas Tree
The ornaments are from St. Joseph’s Indian School. I also stuck some membership cards in between the “branches”. If I have time this week I will give it a full write up.


2 from Guideposts
2 from Guideposts. They should have stopped sending stuff in October. And I should have also been dropped from InfoCision. Time to send in a complaint to the DMA.

4 Random Political Junk Mail
4 random political junk mail


9 Charities
9 charities


4 Scams
4 scams. Everyone is getting a form 1500 or a follow up on one.

  • Mountain View Publishers PO Box 6760 Broomfield CO 80021 It is a wanna be Publishers Clearing House. And yes, I included the dollar bill in the package to the USPS. If the people that process the Prohibitory Orders want it, they can have it.
  • National Veterans Services Fund formerly Vietnam Veterans Agent Orange Victims PO Box 97046 Washington DC 20090 Opt-out here support@NVSF.org. Charity Navigator page Zero stars. Number 8 on the Tampa Bay Times Worst Charities in America list. They included a sweepstakes in their mailer, that is why I can use a form 1500 on them.
  • The Moskowitz Report, info@TheMoskowitzReport.com (that email will just bounce back). They ignored my Prohibitory Order so they get to go to step 2
  • Provident Financial Group LLC 3017 Village Office PL Champagin IL 61822, 877-661-6030 231, Queens Rd Dublin IR, 100 Mandela Wy Capetown South Africa. DO NOT CASH THIS CHECK! It will give them access to your account and they will take money out.

3 stuffed and ready to go
3 pre-paid envelopes stuffed and ready to go

4 scams getting a form 1500
The 4 form 1500‘s ready to go

Leftovers
Leftovers

Drowning in Junk Mail – This Week in Junk Mail 19 pieces

All 19 pieces

Yes, I got more mail this week than last week, but only one mailpiece from St. Joseph’s. They have dropped the crazy misspelling of her name from their mailing list.


Traditional Values Coalition
2 from Traditional Values Coalition, Wiki page, Open Secrets page opt-out here also opt-out with American Target Advertising and Response Unlimited.

This should be the last I see of the Lafferty family and their junk mail empire.


Random Political junk mail
Random political junk mail


7 charities
7 charities

far_side_jane_goodall1

I am sick of that blond tramp and her chimps


5 Scams
5 scams

  • Easy Rest Adjustable Sleep System 10 Canal St STE 336 Bristol PA 19007-9923
  • Unclaimed Reward (877) 258-2820 They are holding $100 in savings good at Wal-Mart Target and many more. I wish they had an address on the postcard so I could make it stop.
  • MCM Fun (Mike Carner Marketing) Postcard Mailers PO Box 1385 Orangevale CA 95662-1385 Give the gift of junk mail! Become a spam machine! Fill everyone’s mail box with more crap they don’t want! Scam.com chat about MCM. The BBB gives them an F.
  • Finkelstein & Partner PO Box 400 NL-1380 AK Weep Netherlands. They have changed their address it used to be PO Box 3030 NL-1620 GA Hoorn Netherlands. There is a real law firm called Finkelstein & Partners they have had to put up an alert on their website because of the scammers.
  • Chapel Hill Medtherapy Labs PO Box 560787 Dallas TX 75356-9754

2 stuffed and ready to go
2 stuffed and ready to go

3 getting a form 1500
Easy Rest Adjustable Sleep SystemMCM Fun (Mike Carner Marketing) Postcard Mailers, and Chapel Hill Medtherapy Labs are getting a form 1500

Leftovers
Leftovers

crafting with junk mail
And a sneak peek of a Christmas craft that will involve junk mail

Drowning in Junk Mail – Catalog Choice vs. PaperKarma

PicMonkey Collage words

Before I start this review, the best way to get off a mailing list is to contact them directly. Email them, call them, harass them like they harass you. For this project that was just not an option. It would have been hundreds of emails and phone calls. Even with cut and paste my entire day would have been sending emails, and keeping track of responses. That is why I used both Catalog Choice and PaperKarma.

Also they count requests differently, Catalog Choice counts each request individually and PaperKarma lumps all the requests to each group together. So if I get 10 mailpieces from Citizens United, Catalog Choice would have 10 requests and PaperKarma would have 1 request. I am going to use the PaperKarma standard for this review to 1) lesson confusion and 2) so I don’t inflate the stats. The numbers are ridiculous enough without counting each piece of mail individually.

They essentially do the same thing: you enter junk mail into their system, they try to contact the junk mailer and ask for the junk mail to stop. The key to both of them is to maximize the system. Enter every piece you can. Leave a paper trail of what you have received. Use all the tools they give you. Don’t be passive about the process.


Catalog Choice Your Choices page

Catalog Choice was bought by TrustedID it is the older of the two. It is web based and very easy to use. You can enter multiple names and addresses into the system. You can only send requests to the groups in it’s database.

Catalog Choice company profile page

It works best on well established legitimate charities. It does not work as well on 501c(4)s, candidates running for office, and scams. They need to update their database more often. One great feature is: if you are still getting junk mail 90 days after your first request, you can file a complaint with Catalog Choice and they will pass it on to the FTC.

I used Catalog Choice from April to the end of July. I have 173 requests for individual groups on that service. I was imputing fewer and, fewer mailpieces because they either weren’t in the system or I would input a mailpiece but it wouldn’t go through to the company.

Catalog Choice Action Required

Out of the 173 groups I entered, only 51 went through and 16 required further action. About a 30% success rate. That is about my response rate when I send out emails.


PaperKarma opening page

Out of frustration I started using PaperKarma. It has many of the same problems of requests not going through, but it has a higher success rate. In defense of both companies I am testing the limits of the system. The bizarre fringe PACs and “sound a like charities” that I get, fly so low under the radar most people have never heard of them.

PaperKarma taking a photo

PaperKarma is newer. It was bought by Reputation.com. It is a smartphone app. You take a picture of the mail and they use some fancy software and Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (Wiki page) to figure out who sent it to you.

PaperKarma junk mail page 1
PaperKarma junk mail page 2
PaperKarma junk mail page 3

With PaperKarma you can enter multiple names but only one address. The program will learn new junk mail names and addresses. You have to train the program, as it will sometimes guess wrong. When you sign up you have the choice to use your Facebook account or create a fresh account with your email address. I have read the reviews of the app and some people have trouble with using Facebook to log in. I created an account with my email address, mostly because I didn’t want my Facebook to get intertwined with this project. After the the first 5 mailpieces you upload it will ask you to send an email to 5 friends. If you don’t want to do that, just use the emails of people who send you junk mail. I have plenty on this site.

PaperKarma Archived Requests page

Out of 308 total requests 160 went through, about a 50% success rate. Of the junk mail requests that have gone through about 5% are wrong. Either they are the wrong advertiser or a random PO Box. Not bad for a robot. Again, it worked best on established charities, and well known advertisers.

PaperKarma Failed and Pending
The app starts to get sluggish after about 150 requests. Keep it tidy by “archiving” the requests that are green Successes. Only the blue Pending and the red Failed should be on your main page. Don’t worry “archived” is a strange word to have used, they are still active requests and you can still tell them if the mail has stopped of if they are still sending stuff to you.

PaperKarma
PaperKarma
PaperKarma
PaperKarma
PaperKarma

If the request was successful, after 13 days they ask you if the mail has stopped. I would like this to be changed to 45 days as many junk mailers like to send stuff once a month.

PaperKarma Archived Requests page date change

If they want me to tell them on the 13th day if the mail had stopped then they should have it say 13 days ago. After 8 days it changes to a date. I would also like the website to be more interactive. I would like to access my account from a desk top computer and see the all the photos and make corrections when needed. It would also be great if I had the ability to see full name and address of sender of junk mail. A lot of the SuperPACs have names that are very similar, many fake charities have “sound a like” names. I need to see the whole thing t0 make sure the robot found the right group.


Screen caps are boring. Time for some videos!

CBS News about stopping junk mail. Featuring an interview with the founder of Catalog Choice, Chuck Teller

CBS New York talking about DMA Choice and PaperKarma.


Things I would like in a junk mail stoping service this includes DMA Choice, Catalog Choice, and PaperKarma:

  • No means No. If I choose to opt-out of everything, I mean everything. Not for 5 years, forever.
  • Unlimited names and addresses. Because of the way I did this, I have 2 addresses to handle at once. And the junk mail people like to play around with her name, flip-floping it and strange misspellings. Once one list does it, it spreads like wildfire. I have 6 variations of her name and DMA Choice only has space for 5. In PaperKarma it is a long string on one line that I can’t see all of at once. They all need to take a que from the fantastic opt-out page for data miners acxiom. That is how you do it, it is all on one page, and you can have 10 of everything. Sometimes it is nice to deal with a data pro.

Clippy

  • Ability to opt-out of direct marketing firm or get off what ever master mailing list they have bought. I do not have the time to opt out of all 50 clients that are sending me mail from the same place. You know they are all connected, let me opt-out as few times as possible.
  • If it requires an extra step (phone call, a direct e-mail, fill in a form with a captcha) they do it for me.
  • A yes or a no if it went through, no “waiting” or “processing” forever. If I need to do it myself let me know. Don’t leave me hanging.
  • Ability for me to enter a new group. There is no way they can keep up will all the new charities and PACs that are created every year.
  • If it is a scam tell me the proper authorities to contact (better yet contact them for me), show people how to use form 1500, file a FTC, or DMA complaint if it comes to that.
  • If the mail doesn’t stop after 90 days, automatically send a complaint report to the FTC and the DMA. Or at least alert me in some way to do it. Both Catalog Choice and PaperKarma are very bad at telling users that it is time to go to the next step.
  • Stop “To Current Resident” mail, EDDM postcards and the like. That is the type of mail that is the most annoying to the most people.

I have been hard on both services. Mostly because the job I had was was hard to do. I am sure none of the people who thought up these services never imagined someone like me rolling up on them and dumping hundreds of requests on them. PaperKarma gets a B+ and Catalog Choice gets a C-. If you have a smartphone definitely use PaperKarma.

Did I miss something? Comment below and tell me what you want in a junk mail stopping service.

Drowning in Junk Mail – This Week in Junk Mail 15 pieces

I hope your Thanksgiving was good and that your parents and grandparents junk mail woes are under control. My plans fell through. I made the best of it by emailing a bunch of junk mailers and their direct mail fundraising companies. So when they rolled into work on Monday they found my “Remove from mailing list” email.

Since I am down to a reasonable amount of junk mail here is how the month of December is going to go:

  1. Scan into PaperKarma
  2. Email, and if it is email number 2: a phone call.
  3. Email to direct marketing firm, if I can find it
  4. If no response by the end of the week, fill out a complaint to the DMA
  5. If scam send in a form 1500

My experiment with PaperKarma is over. It was able to stop about half of the mail I scanned in. I will be doing a review of Catalog Choice vs. PaperKarma soon.

Next week I should be dropped from InfoCision, and American Target Advertising.


All 15 pieces
I am a Christmas decorations purest. Nothing before Thanksgiving. This weeks Christmas stickers are from Paralyzed Veterans of America.

5 Random Political Junk Mail
Random Political junk mail


3 Charities
3 Charities


4 Scams
4 scams

  • Dr. Walter Barkley and Associates PO Box 1219 NL-3600 BE Maaraaen Netherlands.
  • Logistic Pro Gerloczy Utca 7 H-1052 Budapest Hungery
  • Uni Script 217 Centre St. #2210 New York NY 10013. BBB page. Apparently this is like a coupon you would use instead of your insurance.The BBB advises against using them. WKYT report on Uni Script.
  • 4 Corners Alliance Group, a review of the MLM. In this case you need 1024 people in your 5th level to be full. You can only get commissions on your 6th level once your 5th level is full. Good luck with that. It is run by Cornerstone Alliance Group BBB page.

 


3 Ads
3 ads

  • Monarch HealthCare
  • Uncle Credit Union
  • Figi’s catalog filled with stuff only grandma would think is good any more.
    Exhibit A: A double page spread of different fruit cakes
    Figis Catalog


    Not even the food stylist could make it look appetizing.


3 Ready to go
3 letters going out. 2 prepaid envelopes and the 4 Corners Alliance Group is getting a form 1500.

Leftovers
Leftovers