Update: Getting Off Mailing Lists Is Fun

I’m happy to report that four months after requesting to get off the mailing lists for DELL (update: just got another catalog from Dell. Bastards!), Movies Unlimited, Tempurpedic, Guitar Center, New School, and my dentist’s office, they’ve all complied. Yesterday I requested to get off Macy’s and LL Bean. Still need to get off Harry & David, Banana Republic, and Old Navy. Out of the blue, I’ve also been getting these mailing address labels sent to me by various charities and other random unexpected pieces of junk mail where before I got none. I’m sure my creditors appreciate my checks arriving with the return address splayed on a picturesque snowman scene. I think when I signed up for a free cologne sample is how I got on the lists. Pretty stupid and I should’ve known better, but I thought it was going to be a whole bottle. It ended up being just a piece of scented paper. I resubmitted my name to the Direct Marketing Association’s Do Not Mail list (it costs $1), which stops thousands of companies from junk mailing you.

PREVIOUSLY: Getting Off Mailing Lists Is Fun
(Photo: Getty)

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  1. RottNDude says:

    Private Citizen worked wonders for my own junk mail problems:

    [www.private-citizen.com]

  2. joemono says:

    My return labels are either ziggy or flowers – they sent me enough to last a lifetime.

  3. AlisonAshleigh says:

    Obviously it’s just me, but I actually LOVE junk mail. If you only knew how mnay hours I have put into signing up for various catalogs, coupons, etc…

    I hate opening the mailbox to JUST bills, so I get really excited when I get the electric bill AND the Avocado Of The Month catalog.

  4. ParkerTheDog says:

    Your dentist’s office sends you junk mail? The only mail I get from my dentist is the friendly reminder to schedule an appointment. I appreciate that. If you get junkmail from your dentist, then it sounds like he/she isn’t running a very lean operation.

    As far as the mailing labels from charities, we get those too. That’s the charity’s way of guilt-tripping you into sending them money. Doesn’t work for us, though. We didn’t ask for the mailing labels, why should we send you money?

    Thanks for the Do Not Mail links. That doesn’t seem to be well-publicized to me – at least not compared to the Do Not Call list.

  5. 3rdname says:

    @AlisonAshleigh: i also like junkmail. i have found some good deals surprisingly. what i don’t like are the credit card offers. i watched a csi where street gangs were paying $50 to the homeless for shopping carts full of credit card offers. they were taking the offers, signing up for them and changing the addresses so you wouldn’t even see a statement or get a collection call or anything. you wouldn’t even know about it untill the next time you credit bureau was pulled.

  6. Emrikol says:

    @AlisonAshleigh: Wow, I thought I was the only one. Life is depressing without junk mail.

    (And without junk mail, postage would probably cost more…think of it as a subsidy)

  7. realjen01 says:

    @3rdname: you watch too much tv.

  8. Starfury says:

    My mail sorting process.

    1. Get mail from box
    2. Go to pantry that has recycle bin
    3. Sort mail, usually 80% into bin w/o reading
    4. Take what’s left. Bills into the bill bin, statements to file, CC offers to the shredder.

  9. jeffjohnvol says:

    If I were to stamp “RETURN TO SENDER” on my junk mail, would it go back and cost the sender more postage?

  10. slowinthefastlane says:

    @JEFFJOHNVOL

    No, but if the offer has one of those “no postage necessary” return envelopes, it will cost them money if you send it back empty. When I had the time, I used to open up the junk, take out anything with my name and put everything else back in the reply envelope and send it back. Be aware that if you do this, some companies now put identifying barcodes on their reply envelopes (MBNA credit card offers for example). Don’t send those back.

  11. forever_knight says:

    @slowinthefastlane: what happens if you send those with identifying barcodes on them??

  12. 3rdname says:

    @realjen01: no only about 2 hours a day. but it does seem as though there is nothing but csi’s on during that 2 hours (obviously don’t have cable if i’m only watching 2 hours worth a day).

  13. FormerEA says:

    Getting off of charity lists is a little different than getting off a catalog list — charities often exchange names with each other when doing mailings to prospective donors but they don’t store your name on their in house list. So if you purposely give to Kid’s Charity A, they might share your name with Kid’s Charity B in exchange for their list. Kid’s Charity B then sends you some return address labels. If you do nothing, Kid’s Charity B won’t send you more unless Kid’s Charity A gives them your name again at a later date. But if you call Kid’s Charity B and say “Take me off your list!” they proably won’t be able to help much since you’re not actually ON their list. So, if you want to be sure you won’t get unwanted charity mail, contact the charities you support and ask them to not share your name. (Another strategy: give larger amounts of money. Charities won’t give away the names of their big donors. $100+ often does it.)

  14. EagleTheta says:

    @3rdname: I read an article a couple of years ago where someone ripped up a credit card offer, taped it back together, filled it out with his father-in-laws address in another state, then sent it in. No SSN was needed (offers are bar-coded).

    A couple of weeks later, his father-in-law had a credit card in his name without any notification to him at all.

  15. BigNutty says:

    Another junk mail junkie here. I like analyzing the marketing method each company uses to try and get me to buy or join something.

    I also think it makes you a more informed consumer if you can see all the crap that is out there.

  16. gruffydd says:

    My personal pet-peeve is the mail I receive from credit card companies I do business with, that are not offers, but BLANK CHECKS.

    Another one, is all the offers I get from AmEx. I already hold 2 of their cards, but they keep sending me apps for Platinum, Business Platinum, Starwood, Delta…I must get one a day.

  17. Ailu says:

    The big problem is, if you’ve already done business with a company, they don’t have to remove you even if you are on the DMA’s list.

    But I found an easy pain-free way to stop all the catalogs, even if you are a customer (I don’t need their catalogs since I shop them on the net). It’s [www.catalogchoice.org] . It’s an opt-out service, which is sponsored by The Ecology Center, and it’s completely free. Every catalog I get was on their list (a dozen or so), and it only took a few minutes to opt out of all of them. Makes it easy being Green. :-)

  18. deebeegee says:

    Dear Consumerist: your site search function doesn’t seem to work. search_term in that window pulls up nothing while search_term site:consumerist.com pulls up dozens of hits.

    For supermarket flyers, see this post:
    [consumerist.com]
    I tried it, it works. Of course, if you have more than one apartment, you may have to ring your local post office to convince them to not just put your neighbor’s flyers in your box.

  19. db2 says:

    I secretly enjoy getting these bulk mailings. See, I work for a reseller myself, and I know just what it costs to send out large marketing mailings, particularly with color print. I take gleeful solace in knowing I’m being a one-way financial drain on certain companies I dislike. They waste my time, I waste their money. It’s an acceptable compromise as far as I’m concerned.