Circular Delivery Guys Are An Unstoppable Force

Every two weeks everyone on my block gets a bag full of coupons. It’s a bit annoying and certainly a waste of trees. I kick them right to the curb for recycling. One time I even tracked down the company and asked for them to stop delivering to building. They said, oh yeah sure, it may take a few weeks, but we’ll take you off the list. The coupons have never stopped.

Yesterday I was walking home and I passed two of the circular delivery employees…

At first I mistook them for the homeless guys who prowl for bottles. They were shabbily dressed and pushed two shopping carts full of the coupon bags. By the looks of the two, I could tell there was no way that these guys were ever going to check apartments against a “do not throw” list. You can opt-out of most other direct marketing efforts, but these guys just don’t give a damn. Unless I can think of some creative way of somehow make throwing trash in front of my apartment, they represent an unstoppable force. Maybe something involving faxing them copies of all the circulars I receive…

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  1. KingPsyz says:

    These guys are paid per bag, so if you think there’s a chance in hell they’re gonna skip any oppertunity to hang one you are sorely mistaken.

  2. humphrmi says:

    I’ve been having the same problem, and I’ve been considering complaining to the village. If they get involved, maybe the police will, and the hobo-like hangers will rethink their actions after sitting in the back of a patrol car for a while.

    Or maybe they’ll just egg my house.

  3. kris in seattle says:

    Hmmm… now I feel like a bitch because I work for an ad agency that that makes those mail-out circulars/fliers for rent-to-own furniture stores in the South and in the South-East. Fuck, I work for the enemy!

  4. girly says:

    Maybe you could put a tall, thin bin marked “place circulars here” on one side near your curb. Mark it “trash” on the other side so you can turn it around on garbage pick-up day.

  5. DeeJayQueue says:

    @girly: Brilliant!

  6. endicottroad says:

    I know of a man who requested all the junk mail and circulars he could get his hands on. They made for good kindling in his woodburning stove!

  7. nickripley says:

    One could contact some of the businesses doing the advertising and tell them you won’t shop there. Vote with your dollar!

  8. mikesfree says:

    What I do with the ones left on my car is take them to the shop that is advertised, give it back to them and tell them I will never shop there.

  9. Sherryness says:

    I am usually in total agreement with Consumerist, but I have a different opinion about this. I personally use every coupon I can get my hands on and I peruse every sale flyer. My mind works kind of like a steel trap when it comes to putting together sales and coupons to get ripping deals, so my mind really just feasts on this stuff. And in addition to be fun, it helps my pocketbook and gives a job to a guy who might not be able to get one otherwise. Just my take on it.

  10. manok says:

    Leave the bums alone. They need to make a living plus you get 10% off of maid service. Win win.

  11. qwickone says:

    Just collect all of them you can get your hands on and them dump them in front of whatever store you dont want them from. Then when they yell at your for littering or something, just say that you were returning it because you didnt ask for it in the first place!

  12. Homelessbum says:

    Apply for the job of delivering the circulars in you neighborhood. Tell your neighbors for $10/yr you’ll not burden them with the circulars. Call it a “Save The Environment Tax” or something. Every two weeks get the supply of circulars, sell them to the paper recyclers.
    Win-win.

  13. blue_duck says:

    I can clean my own house for free…

  14. Emrikol says:

    You should consider yourself lucky! We don’t have anything like that where I live…so no coupons for me! I might get lucky and get a Pizza Hut coupon once a week in the paper. Tack that onto the fact that the closest store that has one of those “double coupon days” is over 50 miles away, I just can’t save any money on food!

    It’s not like I live in the middle of nowhere…I blame our Super Wal-Mart for closing 4, that I can think of, grocery stores in our area (We still have Save-A-Lot which isn’t bad sometimes, and a locally owned grocery store that’s way too overpriced to use)

  15. gingerCE says:

    I guess for every person who recycles the ads without looking them over, there’s someone like me who looks over the sale ads and uses them to plan her shopping/meals around. I usually get ads in the mail or in the newspaper. That’s why they blanket ads around because of people like me I guess. As much as I can see how this might be annoying, I would be annoyed if they stopped running ads/coupons for consumers. Because mine are done by mail, I guess there might be a better way to opt out of receiving them. But honestly I have been in stores where the ad was proof something was supposed to be on sale (so they were forced to give me the sale price) so to me overall they are a valuable consumer product.

  16. zibby says:

    @blue_duck: But what about the opportunity cost of your time?!?!

  17. workingonyourinvoice says:

    You could always follow the guys that post the flyers home, and every time they drop one on your door, you bring it to their house and drop it on theirs. Course, this will require psychotic levels of dedication and patience, and would only serve to terrorize the circular posters (at best).

    I actually like the idea of taking the flyer to the business that put it out and telling them you’ll never ever shop there.

  18. smitty1123 says:

    I’ve always wondered if doing a postal address change and putting the name down as “Resident” would do any good.

  19. TMurphy says:

    If the coupons still have the 1/100th of a cent value, maybe you should cook up a money-making scheme similar to the Seinfeld episode where they drive the recyclables to another state for higher refunds.

  20. jeff303 says:

    @smitty1123: Interesting idea but probably wouldn’t work. The change of address only covers a certain class of mailings which the bulk junk stuff doesn’t fall into.

  21. Mr. Gunn says:

    Sherryness:

    gives a job to a guy who might not be able to get one otherwise.

    Seconded. In America, under our great capitalist system, private industry should be encouraged to help out the homeless and mentally ill whenever possible. If all I have to do is throw out a bag of paper every now and then, I’ll do it.

  22. erratapage says:

    I just don’t get the anger over these things. I’d rather companies figure out a better way to get my attention, but I have MUCH bigger battles to fight these days. I’d rather get arrested for not showing a Best Buy employee my receipt than fight circular spam.

  23. magus_melchior says:

    @TMurphy: I know you’re probably joking, but with the price of crude oil sky-high, the cost of driving would negate such savings (unless you’re in New England).

  24. Mariallena says:

    I get them in Brooklyn all the time.

    The funny thing is that most of the fliers are for stores that are not even in the area (like J C Penney or ShopRite).

  25. Nytmare says:

    I don’t understand why this isn’t covered by littering and/or trespassing laws. Do I have the right to come to your business and tape a bunch of flyers to your doorknob or drop them on your property as often as I choose?

  26. jamesdenver says:

    I agree with the “let it go” crowd. I’m not going to threaten low paid workers with trespassing. Plus if it’s a local neighborhood businnes I WANT to know they’re there and be happy to support them

    And my neighbors and remove them if we’re on vacation. To me it’s a non-issue..

    Remember Bart Simpson as the ninja trained “Menu Boy”

  27. EndangeredGoose says:

    It’s really bad in my neighborhood. They really bother me because people who don’t use their front doors don’t really keep up, and so everyone has all this junk strewn around their otherwise nice yard. And don’t get me started on the 3 times a week junk circular that the stupid grocery stores send out.

  28. dbasch says:

    Cutting down trees, printing flyers, delivering them to the distributors, delivering them to the homes….

    Does anyone else see an environmental travesty here? All so we can save 30 cents on three cans of soup.

    Regardless, digital coupons will relegate this system to the “I remeber when” category in my lifetime.

  29. kylere says:

    Collect them for a few months, then (for me it was Monday) wait for them to drive by, and follow them home. Dump the months of crap in their front yard. It accomplishes nothing at all, other than making you feel better on some level.

    BTW, I had asked them nicely several times to stop throwing their litter in my yard BEFORE I took this action.

  30. kingoman says:

    They won’t stop because the incentive isn’t there. As was stated, they get paid for how much they hand out, not how much they hand out to good leads.

    I have a sign on my door that says I will boycott all businesses that advertise by putting trash on my door. They still do it since it isn’t their business that I’ll wind up boycotting. I’ve called a couple of them to complain but when 2 out of 10000 people complain, they’ll keep doing it.

  31. It seems to be that this is a straightforward case of littering. The merchant is paying people to litter on their behalf (who are, admittedly, then hiring bums and homeless people to litter on THEIR behalf).

    But, it seems that it shouldn’t be that hard to find a lawyer to come up with an inventive way of saying “ThatMerchant, via its contractors and their employees, is littering on my property,” and getting them slapped with fines and/or forced to pay you money directly.

    Just thinking out loud….

  32. pattymc says:

    Here’s what you do as far as the circular wad. Contact ADVO as well as the Direct Mail Assoc. Tell them you want to opt out (It will cost $1.00 to tell Direct Mail).

    Your unsubscribe will go live in 6 to 8 weeks.

    Once you unsubscribe you will need to deal with your mail carrier. The wad of circulars MUST be accompanied by a card with your address on it. This is a Post Office rule. The carrier, however, will – out of habit – ignore this rule and continue to deliver the circular pile. You then call your Post Office and explain that you have opted out.

    You then call the Post Office and explain that you have opted out.

    You then call the Post Office and explain that you have opted out.

    You then call the Post Office and explain that you have opted out.

    ETC.

    I finally used a fat Sharpie to write on the inside lid of my mail box that I had opted out yadda yadda.

    I no longer get the circulars.

    The coupon booklets are another matter. I got the same story, that they buy the list from the Post Office. The fellow I spoke with, who sounded like an extra on the Sopranos, told me that it was the Post office’s fault that he could not remove my address. This is, of course, crap. I don’t think it is possible to find out the truth in this instance without the assistance of a mole.

    So,I called the local post office – I am on first name basis what with the circular saga going on for so long – and was told I could submit in writing a signed statement saying I did not want any mail addressed to Our Neighbor, Occupant etc and they would stop delivering it. This seemed more like a concession to me rather than an official policy.

    If the Post Office does sell the list then it would be to their advantage to have as many names on it as possible. And the trash mail people sell advertising based on the number of ‘subscribers’ so it is to their advantage as well to keep the list as big as possible. Everybody wins – except us consumer folk.

    It takes persistence (I am retired and so have the time) but you can get rid of most of it as well as the credit card offers and catalogs. Eventually it pays off. Really.

  33. PracticalMagic says:

    You could always do the : “junk mail revenge” thing. Save them, put them in a box for more weight, then slap one of those postage pre-paid envelopes on it. Killing two birds with one stone.

  34. In some municipalities, the ones that are NOT mail, but are delivered the way newspapers are, are considered prosecutable littering UNLESS they come packaged with news. Only news may be delivered unsolicited.

    Which means the advertising circulars either package with small local newspapers or BECOME small local newspapers, but generally they have to allow you to opt out if they’re newspapers.

    You should check and see if your city has a law about not-mail junk delivery.

  35. ornj says:

    At my old apartment my room mate saw a couple of guys who pretty much fit this description. After he complained to the company paying them that “homeless looking guys” were walking around the complex leaving these things the company they worked for refused to do anything about it.

    So he collected every single piece of junk in the courtyard and walked down to city hall to make a stink about it so maybe someone would enforce the no hand out policy.

    He pretty much got the same reaction there so he just threw them up into the air all over the place and ran like hell before the officer on duty could grab him.

  36. Trai_Dep says:

    …Make lemonaide out of lemons by having hawt hobo sex?

  37. Munsoned says:

    @Derek Balling: I’d call it: “Conspiracy to Litter.” I wonder if any judge has ever had a case like that before!

  38. vongarr says:

    Yeah, let’s piss off the low paid men with apparently little to lose. If having to pick up some up circular mail trash gives them work, fine by me.

    And if it annoys you that much, move out to the country. But I guess starbucks would be hard for you to get then.

  39. workingonyourinvoice says:

    @vongarr: I read your comment, hit the back button, started reading something else, stopped for a second, and had to come back to ask you the following question:

    What the fuck does Starbucks have to do with any of this?!

    I’m really curious.

  40. nakmario says:

    @trai_dep:
    lol

    glass half-full – i like your thinking!

  41. Clarkins says:

    When I was under 16 in Missouri, this is the job I could get.
    We got paid $0.015 per insert in the plastic bags. It was a really heavy bag to carry with all my stops in it.
    Just saying, that’s how some people (and those not old enough for fast food) make money.

  42. erratapage says:

    Hey… as a lawyer, I’d take on a case against non-postal circular spammers for littering or trespass for my normal hourly rate. Anyone have a $5,000 retainer?

  43. UpsetPanda says:

    @WorkingOnYourInvoice: I think vongarr is using his/her’s consumer right to spew vitrol for the sake of spewing vitrol, rather than making any statement about the post itself or tangent (i.e. legwarmers, t-shirts, bandeu bras, employment).

  44. spdcyclist says:

    Wow! So many comments. I didn’t realize this is such an emotional issue for so many people. I get those darn circulars in the mail and tossed onto my driveway. The driveway ones are delivered by two guys in a mini-van that weaves down the street from side to side as they toss the circulars out the doors…quite a coordinated team and very annoying.

  45. Sonnymooks says:

    @WorkingOnYourInvoice:

    That would not work for me, the guy who drops the circulars off at my house (which I throw right into the garbage) is homeless. I would be following him back to a shelter.

    Actually most of these guys are very poor, or homeless or in dire straits, I do admire the fact that instead of taking the circulars and dropping them down the sewer, they actually do their job.

  46. Elvisisdead says:

    Hey, for those of us who have fireplaces, these things are great fire starters. In the summer, you can use a paper log roller to turn them, along with other junk mail, into paper fireplace logs. Or, you could just throw the logs at the bums. Both equally entertaining.

  47. humphrmi says:

    @spdcyclist: Yes, it is an emotional issue, I think, for homeowners. In my neighborhood they dump their crap on the porch and it blows all over the yard and gets stuck under the bushes. It’s akin to someone driving into your neighborhood and emptying their garbage can on your lawn and driving off.

  48. KJones says:

    @Sherryness:
    Stores should have their coupons on a rack _inside_ the store so consumers like you or I can pick them up if you want. Most people I know frequent the same stores and markets and won’t go halfway across town just to save a dime.

    As for the junk paper itself, it pisses me off. The idiots who dump them do things like jamming them in mailboxes (damaging legitimate mail), taking newspapers out of their slot (or stealing them) and dropping the newspaper on wet ground just so they can put their crap in the slot, or tossing them on doorsteps, leaving them prone to wind, rain and other things (ie. kids) where they end up strewn across lawns.

    My advice? If only local companies are in the fliers, pick up the garbage (usually wet and covered in dirt), go to the store and dump it on the customer service desk. Tell the stores and business managers – politely – that it’s their garbage to clean up and that you didn’t ask for it. It took only one trip into each store to stop them coming to my address.

    Some of these fliers are printed by newspapers, so a trip to their editorial office (or a phone call to the editor’s home) can also do wonders.

  49. Haltingpoint says:

    If you are able to arrange an encounter with the carriers again, why not simply try to make it a win-win situation?

    How about saying: “Look, I know this is your job and that you get paid by the bag, but nobody actually checks that you’ve dropped it off and its really frustrating for me to have to throw these out. Would you mind just giving my bag to another house or throwing it in the trash bin? It would be a big help to me and i’d really appreciate it.”

    If you approach them human to human and make it so they still get paid without annoying you, who knows, they might actually be willing. Whether they’ll remember your house or not is another story but at least try to be reasonable. These people have a shitty job and get shitty pay and are just trying to make ends meet so try not to get too worked up when talking to them.

  50. TravisL says:

    Visit 1-866-LITTER-1 for an online reporting form (Washington State only). The State Patrol will send them a nastygram, telling them “stop, or else we’ll ask you to stop again.”

    I’d just throw it away, but I’m a mind-your-own-business kind of guy.

  51. StevieD says:

    Being the strong law enforcement guy that I am (with lots of friends and most importantly family on the force), I keep Uncle Leo on speed dial.

    Remember littering is littering. There is always some young officer that is bucking for a promotion and needs a couple extra tickets written this month to make the next grade.

    Also a car cruising the neighborhood in the wee hours of the morning stuffing mailboxes is always good for one of those “suspicious activities” telephone calls.

    Of coarse you could hire all of the kids in the neighborhood to pickup the trash and then take it to your favorite recycling center.

  52. JayXJ says:

    I don’t mind these things, my home has a wood burning fireplace. Years ago a man that lived up the street from us collected them from everyone on the street–he had 15 parrots.

  53. Jean Naimard says:

    In several canadian cities, you can get an official “no shit” sticker to put on your mailbox, and any store who puts a flyer in your mailbox can be liable for a substantial fine.

  54. Consumerist Moderator - ACAMBRAS says:

    @Jean Naimard:

    That’s pretty cool — are the stickers in English and French? I’d love to put a sign on my mailbox with “no shit” in several languages.

  55. vladthepaler says:

    Illegal dumping, maybe?

  56. Nemesis_Enforcer says:

    @girly: I have a can like that, damn bastards just kept putting the crap on my door. I had to make a sign in english and spanish and yell at them but they finally got the point and put all thier trash in the can. On trash day I just dump it in the recycling bid.

  57. vongarr says:

    @WorkingOnYourInvoice:

    Nothing at all. I was insinuating that Mr. Popken is part of the starbucks drinking elite of America, who is more annoyed by the trees being wasted than giving apparently homeless men jobs.