2 Ways to Eliminate Unwanted Snail Mail

Too much snail mail-2I am on a clearing spree, determined to eradicate my desk, my house — my life –of so much paper. Unfortunately, I keep getting side-tracked from that task by working on managing and clearing the cyber clutter in my life, too. It is part of my quest to adhere to some belated New Year’s Resolutions (see last post).

In the midst of it all, my husband and I are assimilating belongings from the home of one of our parents who recently died. So, our family life of the past two months has seemed like we are the kids with our fingers in the dike while we duck the oncoming deluge of furniture, personal belongings and kitchen utensils. It still keeps coming at us, even as we sell and donate in regular batches. I think we are up to several hundred 1-gallon zip freezer bags in inventory now. Never mind the emotional stress of deciding what to keep and what to part with, but I digress.

One particularly painful/pesky aspect of this whole process has been the onslaught of snail mail solicitations addressed to our family member. Today I decided I’d had enough and pass along this tip that I just used to, hopefully, reduce the stack of envelopes, free address labels, credit card offers and catalogs.

The Direct Marketing Association has a website, called Give Your Mailbox a Makeover, where you can purportedly “manage” the offers and catalogs you receive from retailers, nonprofits and credit card companies. Once you register and login, you can select from an alphabetical list those organizations from which you want to request mail or removal from their lists. There also is a link to register for the Deceased Do Not Contact List.

My first effort was fast. A major retailer that sends me thick glossy catalogs several times a month had a fairly straightforward process for entering my customer number off the catalog label. A charitable organization that I wanted to remove my family member from offered a link to an email address, where I typed in a quick note requesting removal. Then the process started to bog down. The third organization I found listed only a long-distance (not toll-free) number to call customer service. The fourth and fifth organizations I sought were not listed at all. Two of my own favorite charities that pester me with too many donation requests list telephone numbers, only one is toll-free though. Hmm.

The promise is that “within 3 months,” these actions should stop the flow of mail. Interestingly, you can buy a house or have a baby and the solicitations for home improvement products and child life insurance policies practically beat you home. Join AARP or graduate and, well, you get the drift.

If you have experience with the DMA’s website tool, or other methods for clearing the clutter, I’d love to hear them. Let’s start a conversation!

And before my PR and marketing colleagues think I have become a turncoat, just remember how much effort the industry puts into copywriting and special appeals to get messages through. In the end, we are all better off, no matter which side of the sales pitch we are on, with less noise in the channel.

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