After I wrote the last post I realized that I had never told you guys what my rules were. I talk about them throughout the blog, but I never said what they were.
The Rules for the stop junk mail project:
Spend as little time as possible dealing with the mail.
I wrote a blog about the mail so I spent about 1,000% more time touching, photographing, researching the mail than a normal person should. If I hadn’t documented everything, I would have spent about 1-3 hours a week on the mail. Put all the mail in a box. Sort through it once a week, enter it into PaperKarma, then call and email the people who sent the most junk mail in a week.
This philosophy is what lead me to going after the fundraising companies and direct mail firms. If I could go above the piece of mail in my hand and stop another 5, or 10 charities who use the same direct mail firms, that would save me time.
Spend as little money as possible.
I only used postage to send Form 1500’s out. I bought all the supplies at the dollar store or Wal-Mart using the money that was sent to me in the junk mail.
When dealing with the people who work in the direct mail industry, treat them with respect.
Call it social engineering. “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” Use whatever philosophy you need to get you through the interaction with them. You need their help. You need them to do what you want them to do. Coming at them from an angry place will get you nowhere. These people are at work and have a job to to. Do you like it when people come out of nowhere and start yelling at you at work? No. If someone is throwing a temper tantrum are you going to go out of your way to help them? No. Of corse I say all of that and I blew up at someone. Even I had a breaking point.
One thing I did learn is that instead of saying “I need to get my relative off your mailing list.” Say “I need to get off your mailing list.” It was a lot easier to get the person on the phone to help me if I became the person who’s mail I was trying to stop.
Keep emails as short, and on point as possible.
The emails I sent were very short:
Subject line: Remove from Mailing lists
Body of email:
from your mailing lists.
No long story about your loved one. They don’t care. If they cared about the pain their junk mail causes, they would work to stop the out of control selling and trading of personal information in the direct mail industrial complex.
Keep track of when the mail should stop. Follow up when it doesn’t.
I used one of the calendars that came in the junk mail to keep track of when junk mail from each group should stop. Use whatever system works best for you. Following up is very important. They are counting on you forgetting about them in 8 weeks. If you get something on the 9th week call and email them that day. Don’t let them push you around. If you have to, email the CEO of whatever group you are trying to stop. Every mailpiece they send after it should have stopped is another email and another phone call, until the junk mail stops.
If the junk mail doesn’t stop, tattle on them to anyone who will listen.
They have promised that the junk mail will stop in 8 weeks, twice now. But after 16 weeks the junk mail hasn’t stopped. It is time to take it to the next level. If not for you then for the next person who has the same problem with the same people. If enough complaints are filed someone will take notice. File complaints with the DMA, and your state’s Attorney General.
While it won’t stop the junk mail you can also file complaints with the FTC and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Many a criminal investigation was started with someone seeing a lot of complaints with the FTC or the USPS.
If you really want to make a stink go to the media. Reporters are always looking for a good story, and everyone hates junk mail. Every local TV station and newspaper has a customer advocate “On your side” reporter. Contact them and tell them what you are going through to stop junk mail, who won’t stop after all that hard work, and how it has affected your family. This story from ABC15 Arizona is a perfect example of the type of story I am talking about.
Are there any other rules for stopping junk mail I should have?