Brooks Brothers Thanks Three-Week Old Infant For Requesting Their Catalogue. What?

Reader Jillian thought she was keeping an eye on her three-week-old son, Benjamin, but apparently, he managed to sneak away and sign up for a Brooks Brothers catalog. As Jillian explains, “either I have a very preppie prodigy on my hands, or his name is already on a mailing list.”

She sent us her polite letter to Brooks Brother’s CEO:

Dear Mr Del Vecchio –

Today, I received a Brooks Brothers catalog in the mail, addressed to Benjamin James Tate-Booth (sic). Benjamin Tate-Boothe is my three-week old infant son. I assure you that he has no need of Brooks Brothers suits at this time, especially as he tends to soil garments quickly.

I am concerned at how your company gained my son’s name and address in order to address an unsolicited catalog to him. The customer number present on the envelope is #004388918, and the accompanying letter states that a request for this catalog was placed. Brooks Brothers may have purchased his name from another mailing list, because I doubt Ben is signing up for clothing catalogs at such a tender age.

I am addressing this to your attention as your name is on the letter accompanying this catalog. I am hoping you will look into the source of Ben’s catalog request, and stop any further unsolicited mail going to our address.



Who says this is a mistake? Stain-resistant ties! Maybe they come with matching bibs. Benjamin could charge them to his brand new American Express card, you know, once as he learns to scribble his name.


Edit Your Comment

  1. smarty says:

    I’m sure once your baby is registered in any government database, it’s public and marketers want to get ads to you. Moving to a new home, I got tons of advertisement mailings, getting a speeding ticket, I got tons of lawyer postcards/letters, etc…

    Cancel, and recycle, or give it to a friend/family member who needs a new shirt.

  2. ReidFleming says:

    It’s not so much that the name and address are somehow ‘public’. More that BB is claiming that the catalog was requested by the child.

  3. Still can’t figure out why there’s an opt-out policy where there should be an opt-in policy first.

    Imagine telemarketers can only work off a opt-in call database. Me thinks it would be a pretty small list.

  4. JoeTan says:

    There is an “opt in”. It’s in that fine print we don’t read.

    Opt out is usually a scam too. Click on it and it gives the company a “thumbs up” on that e-mail address being valid.

  5. godlyfrog says:

    Maybe they bought a list from someone who’s quick to add newborns to it in order to pump up the numbers and make the list more valuable. The problem with this, of course, is that for the seller to continue to do business, the names have to be legitimate. Once someone complains that their newborn is on the list, chances are good that they’ll switch to someone else.

    The more scary thing is: it’s also possible that someone has already stolen this baby’s identity. Scary as it is, it’s happened before:


    Hospital records contain everything that’s needed to apply for loans and credit cards, and if it’s a family member who stole the identity, they may be taking the bills out of the mailbox, too. If the OP is concerned, they can use the sample form below to make a request.


  6. Snakeophelia says:

    You have to admit, “Benjamin James Tate-Booth” is quite the posh name. Perhaps there’s another one out there – ancesters on the Mayflower, perhaps – and the catalog department just got confused?

    Or perhaps once Benji realized he had such a posh name, he figured those Gymboree clothes just would. Not. Do.

  7. tedyc03 says:

    @Snakeophelia: I dunno if the Mayflower would quite be the time period that they started in. Maybe the war of 1812 though.

    Aren’t births public record? Maybe they just have a bad public record searching company…

  8. homerjay says:

    Am I the only person who first though “Better check his credit report in case his identity was stolen?”

    Is likely that they bought some stupid mailing list, but its also possible that someone opened a brooks-brothers card in his name. Clearly the CEO isn’t going to tell you which it is.

  9. mzhartz says:

    “I assure you that he has no need of Brooks Brothers suits at this time, especially as he tends to soil garments quickly.”

    I love this line.

  10. Concerned_Citizen says:

    I think real question is what list is someone looking at to find out someone was just born? Wouldn’t the only government record be for a ssn number? I would hope that database isn’t public. Maybe the hospital is making money on on the side selling patient lists?

  11. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    I doubt that Brook Brothers trolls hospital records. 3 weeks is very fast to get on a mailing list and receive a mailing.

    I suspect that someone known to the family filled out this form:

    Hopefully BB can respond with the source and IP address of the request.

  12. Imaginary_Friend says:

    I’ve had an infant family member receive unsolicited credit card offers that were triggered by opening up a savings account in her name. The culprit was a local credit union, as it was the only place that her name was spelled a certain way. Needless to say, parents and child took their accounts elsewhere.

  13. B says:

    Hey, the kid just wants to look good, ok? It’s never to early to get yourself a nice suit. And I hear the stain-resistant fabrics can make cleaning up baby spit a breeze.

  14. lil Ben has his sites set high….

  15. PølάrβǽЯ says:

    @consumedchick: Has his “sites” set high? You mean he’s planning on making it big with his web page?

    I think you mean he has his “sights” set high.

  16. failurate says:

    His brother from another mother killed Lincoln.

  17. 4ster says:

    This happened when my daughter was born, except with her, it was Land’s End.

    What we think happened was that we received a Land’s End blanket with her name on it. The gift was shipped to our house. We believe that from that purchase, they had enough information to send a catalog in her name.

    I wonder if someone sent some Brooks Brothers booties to them with the kid’s name on the order somewhere.

  18. Garbanzo says:

    I think Brooks Brothers should invest in hiring a writer for their marketing department who knows the difference between a hyphen and a dash.

  19. failurate says:

    I am curious if they will respond or if anyone at Brooks Brothers is going to read the letter you sent (besides on here at Consumerist).
    Mark this one for follow up.

  20. DrJimmy says:

    There’s a big business in scouring public registries for new entries. I registered my dba late afternoon on a Tuesday in 2002; I started getting junk mail for it Friday of the same week.

  21. varro says:

    @Garbanzo: Yes, hyphens get compliments (see Uncle Buck). Dashes are just…ehhhhhh….

    (Disclosure – people from Brooks Brothers hire me out to do name changes to put hyphens in people’s names…)

  22. bohemian says:

    Babies spike your junk mail but it is usually baby goods and life insurance. We had tons of this kind of junk mail and free coupons after both kids. My guess is the hospital sells this information to baby related companies. Maybe one of these type of lists was inadvertently sold to Brooks Brothers.

  23. ClayS says:

    @beyondthetech: It sounds like you do indeed have it figured out.

  24. kitkatsplash says:

    I would run a credit check as well, just to be safe. It is possible that someone is stealing identities from within the hospital (crazy, but possible, I know).

  25. Nighthawke says:

    Next time, use a midwife. That’ll cut out at least 500 middlemen and the lunacy that comes with staying in a hospital.

  26. Kajj says:

    @Nighthawke: Childbirth decisions are very personal and private, and I don’t think that’s the kind of advice the OP wrote in looking for.

    Is it possible that you or a family member filled out some kind of info card at the hospital? Some hospitals have kind of a welcome-wagon thing for families with new babies that comes with a trial subscription to a baby magazine and some sample baby goods.

  27. Nighthawke says:

    @Kajj: HIPAA regs kick in the instant someone signs a form with a caregiver, be a OB/GYN, Audiologist, Chriopractor, or even your Hospice agency.

    If it is what you say might have happened and the hospital sanctioned it, then the laws kick in, full force. The OP should have been made well aware of what the medical company was going to do with their information they put down on that card or form and where they were going to send it.

    Every Clinic I have visited have had me sign a HPAA form, telling me that my information stays with them unless I sign another form requesting information to be sent to another caregiver. And I have received NOTHING in the mail or any other form anything related to my events with them.

    This hospital possibly did something Under The Table and it does not bode well for them if it is true.
    Even if it is for a fast buck or two, they need to be reminded of their primary mission in their (perhaps short) careers.

    OP: Contact an Attorney and have him rake the medical company over the coals to get to the bottom of this. It’s wrong and they know it, yet they did it.

  28. Kajj says:

    I was talking about something unofficial, more along the lines of a magazine subscription card.

  29. backbroken says:

    Maybe it’s a prank. In my younger days, I used to sign up one of my friends for a free trial for every magazine I came across. I’d slightly change his name, depending on the type of magazine. For example, I signed him up for some yachting magazine under the name Shipwreck “Smith”. Sports Illustrated was Jocko “Smith”. Yeah, juvenile I know. But now I wonder if “Shipwreck” still gets junk mail all these years later.

  30. MrsMicah says:

    Hmm. I have names and addresses of every new mother at the hospital where I work part-time. That could be lucrative. But very very bad for my future with the hospital (HIPPA!). And bad for my conscience as well. Maybe someone else doesn’t feel the same.

    Or maybe Kajj is right about the subscription card. I think it’d be unlikely they’d fill out the baby’s name on it, though. That’s what gets me…the way my hospital is run, the only records most newborns have are under “babyboy” or “babygirl” lastname. They’re not there long enough to change it unless they’re in the ICU.

    There’s another department that registers the names, but they don’t go back into the system everyone can access. If the hospital where Benjamin was born works that way, then the sale must have occurred after the birth registrar’s office.

  31. LionelEHutz says:

    My 3-year old got an AARP membership application a few weeks ago. Let’s just say that when I called them up even the customer service robot was left speechless enough to dump the script.

  32. magic8ball says:

    As other commenters have mentioned, the hospital is not allowed to give out or sell patient information. However, if the OP signed up for any free stuff while in the hospital, the information she used to sign up is fair game – that information goes to the company giving out the free stuff, and they can do whatever they want with it. You get asked to fill out a LOT of forms when you are in the hospital after giving birth; the OP could conceivably have registered for something innocuous without noticing/remembering. And if you file for a birth certificate, some of that information may also be a matter of public record.

  33. Kajj says:

    I just thought of another thing – did the OP sign up for a baby registry at a department store somewhere? That sort of information gets sold all the time, and it’s possible whoever bought that block of names didn’t pay enough attention to what kind of registy it was.

  34. Stormslanding says:

    Does the baby have the same name as the father? This happens all the time with me as my father and I have the same first and last names, but different middle names. Common sense goes a long way, perhaps some should have been used before posting this?

  35. lilad says:

    @Stormslanding: I doubt that if the baby and father have the same name the mother’s first reaction would be “hey, a catolouge addressed to my baby.”

  36. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    @Stormslanding: I seriously, seriously doubt this would have been sent in if the baby and father have the exact same name. At the very least the complaint would be about unsolicited mail being directed at the father.

    @homerjay: Good point.

  37. Nighthawke says:

    @backbroken: If it was a prank, then it was in poor taste.

  38. Tiber says:

    @LionelEHutz: Get him the card, then he can get both the child discount and the senior discount!

  39. backbroken says:

    @Nighthawke: You don’t know my friend. He earned it.

  40. jillian says:

    Thanks for the suggestions, all.

    With regard to Ben having the same name as his father, Ben’s name is unique – my husband and I kept our names intact, and hyphenated them.

    With regard to the hospital, I ruled out Cedars-Sinai as a source, because they promised they did not give out information. And United HealthCare didn’t have Ben’s middle names – only the initial “J”. And I DEFINITELY didn’t fill out any forms, because I actually work in marketing, and I know how mailing lists (snail & email) will never go away. My name got on lists when I got married (thank you, the Knot) AND when I got pregnant, and the sheer volume of crap mail targeted at idiot brides and/or idiot soon to be mothers annoyed me.

    Brooks Brothers are looking into the IP address of the request today. Perhaps it was a prank of some sort – but it’s still pretty random.

  41. Lucky225 says:

    LMFAO @ “promise we don’t give out your info”. There is so much B.S. you have to go through to keep hospital record information private. If you don’t fill out EVERY opt-out form they have (and even then they probably don’t process it quickly enough before they’ve ALREADY shared with 3rd parties) your information is pretty much shared with anyone. Hospital privacy is a joke. My sister-in-law just had a baby and the first thing the hospital did was take a picture and share the information about the baby with a professional photo company that processes the photos — Kid is only minutes owned and already being data-mined, pathetic.