It’s Hard To Stop The Catalogs

Deb gets a lot of a catalogs. Sometimes two of the same, as she and her husband have two different last names.

When two get forwarded from her old address, it can be as many as four of the same catalog.

Several months ago, she decided to spend call up all ten of the catalog companies and request removal. Of the ten, six are still sending catalogs, despite all of them agreeing to have her address removed in weeks.

Companies that removed their names:

• Company Store
• JJill
• Boden USA

Companies that did not remove their names:

• JCrew
• Tiffanys
• Anthropologie
• Pottery Barn
• Urban Outfitters
• Crate and Barrel

Beyond scribbling “Return To Sender” on ’em, what else can one do? There’s services like GreenDimes and 41pounds, but it’s ridiculous that consumers should have to pay to get removed from lists they didn’t agree to be on in the first place. Even registering for the “Do Not Contact” Direct Marketing Association list will cost you a dollar…

Deb writes:

    “My husband and I receive an utterly ridiculous amount of catalogs in the mail. There have been days where we have received even a dozen; a dozen glossy, wasteful, unrequested, heavy piles of excess — worse yet, repeats of the information on these companies’ websites — that go immediately into the trash without us cracking the cover. Even more irritating is that we have different last names so we often receive two copies of catalogs, and in a couple cases, four as two were forwarded from our old address, and two arrived at our new.

    (I should note that some of these are companies that we have done online shopping with but never, even once, from their print catalogs over the phone.)

    I’m not your prototypical environmentalist, but about six months ago I decided that if I could spend five minutes a day canceling these catalogs, I could probably save a landfill each year of our garbage alone. And while everyone laughed at my obsessiveness, I learned that companies have actually trained their customer service operators to know what to do to get your name removed from their mailings.

    It just doesn’t work. Of the ten companies I called before giving up, we are still receiving unending catalogs from SIX of them. Many told us it would take a few weeks for our names to be removed, but as it’s been six months, it’s clear that they were lying through their teeth.

    I know I should waste my energy on bigger things, but this annoys the crap out of me and I would love to see an example made of the piles of waste these companies create every day, against their customers clearly-stated wishes.

    Companies that removed our names:

    * Company Store
    * JJill
    * Boden USA

    Companies that did not:

    * JCrew
    * Tiffanys
    * Anthropologie
    * Pottery Barn (still sends catalogs to each of us)
    * Urban Outfitters
    * Crate and Barrel (still sends catalogs to each of us)”



Edit Your Comment

  1. 24fan24 says:

    Reminds me of the Seinfeld episode where Cramer tries to stop all of his mail because of the catalogs.

  2. They just keep buying your address from the same damned lists. I’ve been trying to get off NOW’s mailing list for ten years now. (ha ha.)

    You can watch this at work by giving out slightly different spellings of your name to various name-collecting entities or when you shop online or by mail. Then the eight different spellings of you can all get the same Crate & Barrel catalog.

  3. facted says:

    I just moved to a new apartment and I’ve been getting a steady stream as well. Each day I got one, I called and cancelled it, even if it was the same companies catalog and I had cancelled previously. I’m also keeping a calendar of items to see just how long it takes for companies to cancel + to have some ammo when I call them.

    We’ll see what happens.

  4. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    Each of those catalogs should have a change of address form. Just write down the address of the corporate headquarters as your new address.

    Also, try not to use your credit card at those particular places. That’s how they get your name and address to begin with. If they see that you are a regular customer, they will continue to send catalogs/junk to the billing address of your credit card.

  5. LupeDeVolga says:

    It’s quite possible that things have changed, but a few years ago I went through a similar process, and did the DMA thing and calling all the companies at once. I actually found it to be successful with the exception of JJill. (It would work until I ordered something new online and then I was back on the list even when I specifically asked not to be, so be careful with them, Tipster!)

    Granted I think I was never on the Pottery Barn list and that is the one that seems to be like death and taxes.

    But I’d say spring the dollar for the DMA. I really did see a huge decrease in junk mail once I did that.

  6. Ben Popken says:

    Laura writes:

    “two of the six catalogs that continue to send reader Deb unwanted mail are owned by the same company – Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie. A corporate policy? Or ubiquitous disregard for customer service? Who knows.”

  7. ruancaiman says:

    A friend of mine got all her junk mail to stop by writing “deceased” on the labels and returning them to sender. This was many years ago, but she still loves to tell the story.

  8. ElizabethD says:

    If it has been only a few months, Deb should hang on a bit. Many direct-mailers prepare catalogs six months and more in advance, and the books are pre-labeled and ready to send long before the change-of-address or “remove from list” request is recorded. I used to be in magazine publishing, and factors like these make it difficult for mass-mailers to respond instantly to requests from recipients.

  9. segfault, registered cat offender says:

    I’ve e-mailed Crate and Barrel multiple times asking to be removed from their mailing list. Each time, I get a response promising to do so. Over a year later, I’m still getting catalogs. I bought something from them once, but won’t ever again due to their shittiness in this matter.

  10. lvlyash says:

    pottery barn pre prints there catalogs 6 months in advance thats why you keep getting them!

  11. AnneJ says:

    I received a catalog from Talbots today (May 10, 2008), after calling 5 times (!!!) before — the 5th time being in January 2008! — and asking them to remove me from their catalog mailing list. I even threatened to cancel my Talbots credit card. They gave me the usual “Catalogs-are-printed-well-in-advance” excuse, and said that they would relay the info to the right person…

    In this day and age, I can’t understand why companies don’t have an “opt-in” option for catalog mailing rather than an (ineffective) “Opt-out” process. Maybe it’s time to only give our business to corporations that respect our values of environmental consciousness.

    In the meantime, I found this great website where you can sign up and remove yourself from a wide range of catalog mailing lists ([]). I just gave it a try for Talbots. We’ll see if they honor my request, at last.

  12. AnneJ says:

    BTW, the [] registration, unlike DMA, is free. I’ve also read pretty good feedback about it over the Internet.