Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Business Reply Junk Mail

I saw a piece on CNN Headline News about some things people do to get back at annoyances. One of them was sending those free business reply mail envelopes back to the companies that send them junk mail. For an extra measure of satisfaction, you can stuff in some junk of your own (like brochures that other junk mailers have sent you; Anyone think Capital One should lose weight?).

The good: It might encourage companies to stop sending junk mail.

The bad: It might encourage companies not to use business reply envelopes for things that you actually need.

One thing I've noticed (unscientifically) is that when I actually want or need to reply, they don't send me free envelopes. Then, I need to send back a letter with a stamp (now 2 cents more expensive) on it. The best example is the credit card “privacy” policy notice that gives me 30 days to tell them not to sell my information. They gave me a form to fill out (with lots of personally identifiable information, of course), but no free reply envelope.

What d'ya think?

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Most credit card/financial services companies have a dedicated toll-free number for opting out. I've opted out this way several times precisely because I didn't want to generate more paper with my personal information.

Pre-approved credit card offers from companies with which you do business can be opted out of by calling 1-888-5-OPTOUT (US) or going to https://www.optoutprescreen.com/. It takes a few months to get off the list and you only get off for a few years. After that, credit offers are free to come at you again. It could potentially reduce the amount of received junk mail. This type of opt-out doesn't cover companies with whom you already have or had a business relationship (like your own credit card company or a credit card you had a year ago and cancelled). When dealing with them, you have to work within their policies.
Correction: the information I had was a few years old. They now allow you opt out permanently.
Good points all -- I have used optout and even contact the bigest offenders and have asked personally to be removed from their lists.

Some more successful than others -

After getting completely fed up with one company - Capital One -- I decided to use their business reply envelopes in a more creative way.

FOr your reference I have posted the letter to Capital One on my blog -- whether you find it amusing or not - it worked where optout and polite requests did not.

Thanks for your post!
That was laugh-out-loud funny. As an aside, I didn't know you could attach a business reply envelope to a package and use its postage.
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