In July, I broke some of my rules. I was rude to people on the phone, and I was snappy at people in email. That it took me a year to snap at someone is a miracle. Let me lay out my case for completely losing my mind at these people.
Last year she was getting junk mail from:
The Seniors Center a project of Checks & Balances for Economic Growth, (202)785-9500. Citizen Audit page, Open Secrets page, Charity Navigator page. They have been in trouble with the FEC in the past.
All these groups have one thing in common, they all use Engage Direct Mail for their direct mail fundraising campaigns. I have already written about them, and Gary Jarmin. I contacted their compliance office firstname.lastname@example.org in July 2014.
I am writing as a follow up to your request on July 22, 2014, requesting that your name and address be removed from out clients’ mailling lists. In response to your request we have been instructed by each of our clients American Service Council, Checks & Balances for Economic Growth, Civic Council, Citizen Guardian, U.S. Public Policy Council, Volunteer Americans, The Citizen’s Assembly to add your name and address to their do not mail lists.
Please be advised that we have received confirmation from out data department, that your name and address has been removed from the mailing list of all out clients as of 07/23/2014.
I must emphasize that direct mail solicitations are produced at a minimum of twelve (12) weeks in advance of their mail date. As such, letters in production prior to the date of this stop mail request could include material addressed to your name and address and could already be in the mail stream. I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.
Thank you for your patience and understanding in resolving this matter.
If you require any additional documentation, please do not hesitate to contact me directly at (310) 606-9250 or email me at email@example.com.
That was July 23, 2014. That means that junk mail from all those groups will stop in mid October 2014. Fine.
The junk mail didn’t stop.
This mailpiece is from Secure America Alliance a program of United States Public Policy Council arrived on December 18, 2014. 2 months after mail from Engage Direct Mail should have stopped.
So I circled back to Engage Direct Mail. Now junk mail from them should stop in March 2015. ( I think I filed a DMA complaint about Citizen Guardian around this time. My notes about the DMA complaints are incomplete.)
IT DIDN’T STOP!
She died in February. Now it is on. I registered her will everyone I could think of to tell them she was dead, and to stop sending her junk mail. But Engage Direct Mail just kept rolling along.
I contacted Engage Direct Mail in May. I was told that she was removed from the database March 27, 2015. Why wasn’t she removed in July 2014? Whatever. Another 12 weeks it is. That brings us to June 2015 for the new stop date.
Well this is what arrived in July:
What the hell??
That is when I unleashed my full middle-aged, white privileged, entitled self. This woman became my spirit animal:
For each of these mailpieces I left a screaming message for Citizen Guardian on both of their phone numbers (202) 469-3433 and (540) 630-6400. I knew it would do no good. But it felt good.
After the first mailpiece I filed a complaint with the California Attorney General. I mentioned things like that she was dead, that I had been trying to stop junk mail from them for a year, and that their mail was offensive and harassment.
Dear Jennifer Bell,
Thank you for bringing your consumer complaint to the attention of the Office of the Attorney General. Often, it is only through letters from concerned and responsible citizens, like you, that out office becomes aware of consumer problems.
You Should be aware that California state laws do not allow us to represent private individuals in person cilil matters. However, in cases of statewide significance, we can bring legal action against a company when substantive evidence is presented to us supporting allegations that a firm has violated California law.
We have forwarded a copy of your letter along with an inquiry from our office to the company you are concerned about. Hopefully, this will elicit from them a response which we will all find satisfactory.
Again, thank you for contacting out office and giving us the opportunity to assist in this matter.
Public inquiry Unit
for Kamala D. Harris
This was the response I from Engage Direct Mail. I didn’t get this until after the 3rd mailpiece.
Blah Blah. Copypasta 12 weeks. Blah blah removed from data base on 7/15/2015. Blah blah.
After the 3rd mailpiece I emailed the compliance office again:
It has been more that 12 weeks and [name] is still getting junk mail from Citizen Guardian. She has received 3 so far this month. I cannot emphasize enough 1. How dead she is and 2. How upsetting it is for her family to see mail addressed to her. I have given your company more than enough lead time. This is now harassment. From here on out I am going to send you an email every time I get a piece of junk mail from Citizen Guardian.
Please remove [name and address] From your mailing lists. She is dead. She died penniless because she gave all her money away to people like you. Please stop sending her junk mail.
And here is the reply
I personally took care of your request to remove your [relationship] name and number from our data base on 7/21/2015.
Please note, that direct mail solicitations are produced at a minimum of twelve (12) weeks in advance of their mail date. As such, letters in production prior to the date of this stop mail request could include material addressed to your grandmother’s name and address and could already be in the mail stream. I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.
HER NAME WAS STILL IN THE DATABASE?!?!?! What the hell is going on in that office? Are they purposefully malicious or just incompetent?
Cleaner Data in: From the first mailing, we’ll clean your data like never before. First we’ll use the standard tools like NCOA, LACs, and DPV. Then, we’ll bring out the big guns. Our proprietary ECOA process culls out undeliverable addresses, phony names, and those records our 11 years of testing tells us just won’t work. Then our system corrects and adds titles, appends apartment numbers, corrects misspellings, and applies vanity addresses (if your donor says he lives in Beverly Hills, do you really want to address his mail to Los Angeles?). From your first mailing we can increase your response even more with our proprietary Response Maximizer which will grade your file based on our 10 Characteristics of Responsive Households and remove the households least likely to respond.
There is a lot going on in that paragraph. I’m going to pull out a couple of my favorite phrases.
“Remove the households least likely to respond.” I would think a dead person trying to get off their mailing list for over a year would be “least likely to respond.”
Is one of the “Characteristics of Responsive Households” family members who are trying to stop your client’s junk mail? If so, I am in the prime demographic.
As far as I can tell the database for Engage Direct Mail is filled with either dead people, or older people with dementia that can’t afford to give money to their fake PACs.
The clock has started again. Now it is scheduled to stop mid October 2015, a year after it should have stopped the first time. 😡
Through this whole project I have tried to keep my cool during my contact with any of these blood sucking monsters. But even I have my limits. It is sad when I have to turn the bitch level up to 11 to get something done.
If you are getting junk mail from these people, my plan of attack would be:
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org and request to be removed from their mailing list.
- Wait twelve (12) weeks for it to stop.
- When the junk mail doesn’t stop, file a complaint with the DMA and your state’s Attorney General.
Do not let it drag on for a year like I did. At the first sign of non-compliance, hit them with the big guns. Leave a paper trail of complaints, for yourself and others. They need to learn that they can’t ignore people’s requests to be taken off their mailing lists.
Blog post from 2006 from a person who went through the same thing I did.
To connect the dots between these scams, you have to google Gary Jarmin. Don’t be surprised if you get so many diverse hits that you think you’ve found a whole group of different people. In fact, he’s (a) a former moonie; (c)legislative director of Christian Voice; (c)national field director of the American Coalition for Tradition Values; (d) head of the American Federation of Senior Citizens, E) Freedom, USA; (f) American Intelligence Council…