AT&T Will Not Leave You Alone At Your Non-Existent Address

Poor Dustin. AT&T won’t stop sending him junk mail at the wrong address. Sounds impossible, but one should never be too quick to judge with AT&T.

I have a situation which may interest you and for which I’m trying to find a little help. Essentially I have asked AT&T three times now to stop sending me junk mail and they keep sending me junk mail. The worst part is that it’s not even to my right address. The worse-than-worst part is that it’s for a service that isn’t offered at my address! Full story below.

Not long after I moved into my apartment, I noticed that I got a lot of junk mail on a regular basis. Thursday was local coupon day, Tuesday was national coupon day, and every couple weeks or so I would receive something from AT&T. Now, the strange part about this mail is that it is not even going to my correct address–my street number ends in ‘4’, this ends in ‘6’–but I get it anyway because the address they are addressing it to does not exist.

Well I didn’t know who to contact about the coupon circulars I get in the mail, but I knew for sure that I could contact AT&T. So I did, and politely asked them to stop mailing me any more items. They said, “Ok” and I thought that was that.

Until I received the next piece of AT&T junk mail in my mailbox. It happened a couple more times before I got around to calling (you can only speak with someone during business hours and I usually don’t get off work until after said hours). Again, they said, “No problem.” Sure enough, more junk mail keeps coming in. Repeat this scenario again and that’s where we stand now.

The most ironic part of all of this is that they are pushing the U-Verse service. Although I didn’t want to reward them for their tactics, I have to admit the service did look appealing, so I went online to check it out. I plugged in my real address and I got back the message that U-Verse wasn’t available in my area? What? Surely this is a mistake. I called them up to confirm and they told me that, yep, U-Verse is not available at my address ending in ‘4’. But what about the non-existent address whose mail I receive that ends in a ‘6’? Well, U-Verse is available at this imaginary place.

What do I do to get them to stop mailing me fliers I don’t want for a service I can’t get? Now that I’ve called them three times, is it time to ratchet it up? Is going to executive customer service even worth it for this kind of issue?

Thank you, Consumerist.


Maybe we’re jerks but we’d be tempted to call up and order the service anyway, pretending we lived at the “6” address. Then on the day the tech was supposed to show up, we’d write “6” real big with a sharpie on like, a paper plate (or something equally ridiculous) and hang it outside to lure the guy in. This isn’t a good idea or anything, it would just be funny.

Some other options:

1) Be like Ben. He calls and goes all Quentin Tarantino on his dentist, threatening to report them to the FTC. Meg is not really bothered by junk mail, because she enjoys using her paper shredder.

2) Try placing a big sign on your mailbox that says, “THIS IS NOT [whatever the incorrect address is] ” You could also try writing “Incorrect address” and “return to sender” on the mail and then dropping back in the mail. We’re not sure that this will actually do anything though. Any postal service employees care to offer some ideas that will actually work?

Anyone else have any ideas?



Edit Your Comment

  1. Gaambit says:

    I cancelled my service with AT&T (then still Cingular) long ago, and I still keep getting statements each month because somehow I have a 10 cent credit. I’ve stopped the e-mail statements, but thus far I’ve been too lazy to really call them up and try and explain why they can stop sending paper statements to me, and that I really don’t want the 10 cents. This article backs up my thoughts that it would ultimately be frustrating to try.

  2. evslin says:

    How long of a time period is this happening in? I’ve had to call to get people to quit sending me stuff before too, and I’ve always been told the company involve is prepared for an ad campaign as much as 6 months in advance – I’d eventually get one or two mailings but sure enough the mailings quit eventually.

  3. PermanentStar says:

    I’m not sure, honestly, but if anybody knows how to stop those random coupon circulars, I’d be game to try it. (I’ve written repeatedly return to sender, please remove from mailing list and stuffed the things back in the mail box, but to no avail.)

  4. trujunglist says:

    Just write RTS on it and AT&T will be sad.

  5. linedpaper says:

    They will probably need to send you the 10 cents in order to close your account. I used to work for an ISP/Telecom and had a friend in the disco department. According to her there are some sort of regulations regarding excess in accounts and they are required by law to mail it to you before they close the account, so you should probably just call and ask them to mail you a check for 10 cents!

  6. Nighthawke says:

    My mailing address has 407A as the Official USPS mailing address, and AT&T has the nerve (or stupidity, give or take) to put me in their system as 408. Now go figure. I’ve tried no fewer than three times to effect a COA with them, each time the CSR’s say they were successful in it, yet the mailing address didn’t change. I’m glad my route carrier’s are intelligent enough to see through the BS and put the bill in the right slot or there’d be hell to pay before breakfast.

  7. spryte says:

    @linedpaper: OMG I want to work in a disco department!

    What’s interesting is that the service would be available at the wrong address and not the right one. If the one with the 6 was real, it would be right next door or across the street. I mean, if I live at #204 and you live at #206….aren’t we neighbors? Odd.

  8. macinjosh says:

    1) Tell USPS not to deliver stuff addressed to the 6 address?
    2) Formally request that at&t remove the non-existant address from their coverage area database
    3) Sign up at ‘6’ and peek thru the blinds as you watch the AT&T guy wander around. Maybe that’ll get the point across.

    Actually, are these two addresses supposedly next to each other, or are they just coincidentally sequential (based on the limited info)?

  9. macinjosh says:

    I remember long ago I was in The Wiz (aka Nobody Beats the Wiz) because I wanted to sign up for cable Internet service. Their service db listed every address on my street except one. For some reason, #16 was not eligible. Maybe it was just an oversight.

  10. stpauliegirl says:

    @linedpaper: Yep, you’re right. I had the same issue with AT&T, a 22¢ credit from my time as a Cingular customer, and after several months, I finally got them to issue me a check. And now it’s on my fridge and everyone laughs at it.

  11. coan_net says:

    Like the others – I think the most simple thing would be to talk to the mail carrier (maybe leave a nice note next to the mail box – or go into the office) and let them know you don’t want the mail to the “fake” address – only mail addressed to you.

    If they continue, write “return – wrong address” on each one of them and stick it back in the box for them to take.

    Or if possible, stick a garbage can next to the mail box and make a sign that says (ADDRESS …..6 in here with arrow pointing in garbage can) – maybe the mail person will get the hint.

  12. RAREBREED says:

    I’d say tell the post office to stop delivering it to you, but I’ve been receiving mail from a past resident for the last 14 years. The worst part is – they lived there sometime before the family we bought the house from, and they were never able to stop it! So for over 20 years, some other lady’s mail just keeps on coming to this address because no one knows where else to send it! Return to sender results in US getting it back, telling the post office to stop it results in US getting a HUGE stack of it someday… WTF!!!

  13. MercuryPDX says:

    “Meg is not really bothered by junk mail, because she enjoys using her paper shredder.”

    (considers adding Meg to the Illeism page on Wikipedia)

    Still love you though. :)

  14. Banned in DC says:

    @RAREBREED: I have the same problem. The USPS told me that they are obligated to deliver mail to the address on the envelope, and that I can’t issue a change of address for the old residents unless I know where they now live.

    I have mostly solved the excess mail issue by putting a note on my mailbox saying to only deliver mail for my name. Somehow that works.

  15. mobilene says:

    My mail carrier won’t take RTS junk mail. I’ve tried.

  16. Benny Gesserit says:

    Does the junk mail have a return envelope? If so, stuff it with your OTHER junk mail and mail it to AT&T.

    My buddy Brian does this on a regular basis. He regularly sends MBNA bank’s credit card division all the info they need to be saved by Jebus.

    No, it doesn’t stop the junk mail but it still feels good somehow.

  17. coan_net says:

    Just a question maybe someone has the answer to. I know it is illegal to mess with other peoples mail – but would it also be illegal for a postal person to give mail to the wrong address?

    Tell the mail carrier to stop putting mail not addressed to your house in your box or you will file a complaint for improper mail handling… or something like that.

    The more I think about this…… I would stop dealing with AT&T, and deal with the postal people who deliver other peoples mail to your address.

  18. missbheave (is not convinced) says:

    You can add yourself to the “Do Not Mail” list with the Direct Marketing Association. I think it’s free if you register by mail and takes you off several of these kinds of mailing lists.

  19. calvinneal says:

    Just throw the stuff away>

  20. mantari says:

    I get a good amount of fake address mail from Cox Cable. Sadly, they address it to ‘or resident’, and the postal carrier will then not honor a cross-through and ‘incorrect address’.

  21. tevetorbes says:

    You could try a Form 1500 [] and see if that works. It was originally intended to stop “erotically arousing advertisements” but supposedly “the addressee [has] complete and unfettered discretion in electing whether or not he desired to receive further material from a particular sender.” []

  22. CheapBastard says:

    I once had an account with Ameritrade – when I cleared it out, I had a partial penny balance in their systems. I continued to get statements from them for a couple years.

  23. ExecutorElassus says:

    @tevetorbes: yup, that’s it. As I posted here a long time ago, this is the most effective way to get rid of unwanted mailings from a single source. It’s kinda the nuclear option, but if you don’t want to have a relationship with the company anyway, it’s good to go.

    I’ve used it a couple times when calling and saying please didn’t work. Mailings automagically disappear.

    Also, get on the do-not-mail list. I didn’t know we even had one of those.

  24. aegis1 says:

    I really like the idea of calling and getting the service for the imaginary address. Let the tech show up and try to install…

    It won’t stop the mailings but it will be fun. Try it with the cable guy as well. See how long he gets to wait.

  25. praktisk says:

    Speak to the Postmaster at your local Post Office and ask them what can be done to stop the mailings.

  26. rg says:

    When I get stuff like this, I follow Andy Rooney’s advice. I take out the postage paid envelope that is enclosed. I stuff everything that came with it into the postage paid envelope, including the original envelope, and send it back. I’ll take a sharpie and draw through the blank places and any personal info, but they get it ALL right back. May not do any good, but it makes me feel all warm inside knowing they’re paying for return postage on all that stuff!

  27. dantsea says:

    Alas, RG, they don’t pay any more if you do or if you don’t send it back.

  28. thedragonlady says:

    I had a problem with the phone company having my address wrong. They sent the bill to 3 instead of 13 (3 doesn’t exist on my street. Tried for years, to get them to fix it. Finally gave up thinking no big deal, the mailperson figures it out and I always get the bill. Then one night I had to call 911 to report a problem … 911 showed my address as 3 instead of 13! After that I got really, really adamant about them getting the address correct. Went so far as contacting the State’s consumer advocate for utilities issues. Took them 3 months and special notice to the 911 call center locally to get it right. Scary …

  29. Jim says:

    To the OP, even if you do manage to sign up for it, you will continue to receive the advertisements for it. We did through the months we had it and still do after cancelling it (great service, not used enough to justify it).

  30. almaden says:

    Years ago ATT kept billing me for $0.04. After three months of ignoring it, I taped 4 pennies to the bill and sent it in. Surprisingly, they credited my account.

  31. Bruce says:

    Directly copied verbatim without shame from here:


    There is a little-advertised means of stopping unwanted postal advertisements from reaching your mailbox. It is a law, and it is under the United States Postal Service (USPS) auspices.

    This is the only method of stopping unwanted mail at its source where you are not required to pay money other than postage, you don’t have to join a club and it is nearly 100 percent effective.

    Pursuant to federal law (Title 39 USC § 3008), a postal addressee who receives an unsolicited (or solicited) advertisement offering for sale matter that, in the addressee’s sole discretion, is “erotically arousing or sexually provocative,” may, by completing PS Form 1500, obtain a prohibitory order from the USPS directing the mailer of the advertisement to refrain from making further mailings to that addressee.

    The key phrase is “…in the addressee’s sole discretion…”. For example, if a pizza advertisement strikes you as sexually provocative, you can use the Prohibitory Order process to stop the mailings.

    Should the mailer (vendor) continue sending mail after receiving the USPS Prohibitory Order, the USPS turns the matter over to the United States Department of Justice for prosecution. The Justice Department is responsible for prosecuting violations of postal related laws and regulations.

    While the law, the form and the USPS instructions for using the form were originally intended for sexually explicit and provocative mail, the U.S. Supreme Court, in its decision – Rowan vs. U.S. Post Office Department, 397 U.S. 728 (1970) – ruled that the law under Title 39 USC § 4009 (now 39 USC § 3008) includes ALL unwanted commercial mail. Thus, PS Form 1500 is no longer used just for sexually explicit or provocative mail – although it still reads as such.