You Want Off Our Mailing List? Wait 3 Or 4 Months

Noel discovered what the “Beyond” in Bed Bath & Beyond stands for — the point past reason it intends to stretch his patience when he requests to be taken off its junk mail list.

He asked the company to stop stuffing his mailbox and it said OK, but he’d have to wait 3 or 4 months because of red tape.

He writes:

First let me state my clear bias, I hate mail, paper and especially junk mail.

I’ve been receiving Bed Bath and Beyond mailings at my apartment for many many months despite the fact that I unsubscribed online to direct mailings. Today after still receiving these mailings I finally called their customer service and was told that it would take 3-4 months for any removal process to take effects. To my memory it’s been at least that long but that’s probably another issue. I asked to speak to a supervisor at which point I was told again that removing from the physical mailing list can take 3-4 months. The supervisor informed me that this was because the mailings are pre-printed and given to the USPS in advance that far. Even if that is the case it seems ridiculous that in 2010 it takes a quarter of a year 3-4 months to STOP mailings that a person has no interest in receiving. Someone even mildly concerned with the environment probably can see the stupidity of such a situation let alone someone who just doesn’t want to receive the mailings. As a perspective customer of Bed Bath and Beyond I am in fact less likely to be a customer of the store due to the fact that I continue to receive mailings which I don’t want months after nicely stating this fact.

What do you advise Noel does to shed the shackles of Bed Bath & Beyond’s mailing list?


Edit Your Comment

  1. Yoya says:

    Just recycle it when it gets to you… USPS is getting some money, could always take that 20% off coupon they give you and give it to someone else.

  2. Linda says:

    Put it back in the mail box and mark it Refused. It won’t do anything to solve the problem but he’ll feel better.

  3. ChuckECheese says:

    Noel needs to keep things in prospective.

  4. Link_Shinigami says:

    Pull a Kramer. Take all of the fliers back to their store and just chuck them into the lobby area and yell “HOW DO YOU LIKE IT!?”… Then, if this causes them to spam you even more, like with what happened to Kramer, cancel your mail entirely and see where that gets you, maybe you’ll also get to meet the post master general guy?

    • UberGeek says:

      I’ve entertained emptying a bag of dirty diapers at the businesses that leave fliers taped to my doorhandle despite the “No Soliciting, No Handbills” notice in our neighborhood.

      “Since you insist on leaving your trash at my door, here’s some of my trash…”

  5. bennshu says:

    pretty sure those coupons never expire and you can use more than one at once. i’ve been hoarding about 20 of them for the past year waiting until the day i have enough money to use them all in one trip! if you won’t ever have a chance to use them yourself, and perhaps know someone who is moving soon or graduating from high school/college, you can do a good deed and give them the coupons!

    • wrjohnston91283 says:

      When Linen’s and Things was still in business Bed Bath and Beyond would accept expired coupons, however, the ones around me no longer do that now that they are the only game in town.

    • Fujikopez says:

      Unfortunately, you are only supposed to use up to five coupons in a transaction.

      If you put up a big enough fight though (err, I mean ask nicely but firmly), the Manager on Duty will probably allow you to use them all.

      • bennshu says:

        while it is true that they only let you use 5 in a single transaction, cashiers have always let me begin another (and another, and another…) transaction so i can continue to use the coupons! it was a big help when i was preparing to go to college.

      • Xin says:

        where do you shop? In the store I work at – there is no limit for coupons. You buy 150 items – then by all means bring in 150 coupons and I’ll scan them all!

        only stipulation — the $5 off coupon needs to be a single (or multiple purchase) that equals at least 15 dollars

  6. kpieckiel says:

    Postal Form 1500 is a request for a prohibitory order against the sender. US Code and postal bulletins both state that any mail received that is of a sexually explicit nature–AS SOLELY DETERMINED BY THE MAIL RECIPIENT–can be prohibited. The merchant has 30 days to stop sending such mail or they are liable in a court of law for such mailings. This prohibitory order is effective for five years. I’ve used this on a number of such merchants (including BB&B) with nearly 100% success. One merchant sent me a mailpiece past the 30 day mark one time; I submitted it to the post office as a violation of that order and I never heard from that merchant again. I’ve reduced my physical junk mail to nearly ZERO using prohibitory orders. I can provide specific details and fillable forms with simple instructions if you’re interested.

    • says:

      Yep, those shower curtains in the BBB circular always seemed to be pinned up in a very provocative manner.. What if my kids saw that? Wont somebody please think of the children?

    • Robert Terwilliger says:

      In other words:

      Abuse the system because you’re too lazy to throw out/recycle a piece of mail.


      • g051051 says:

        It’s not abusing the system. There’s clear Supreme court rulings that give you the right to control what goes in your mailbox. The postal service doesn’t like to do it because of the extra work, so they make you use that form for the purpose.

        Nice job blaming the victim, though. It’s that kind of thinking that lets companies get away with it.

        • Robert Terwilliger says:

          Yes I will blame the “victim” who has to deal with throwing away a piece of paper that he doesn’t want.

          Most of the junk mail I get doesn’t even make it in the house, doesn’t even get opened. Just look at it, toss in the bin.

          I guess we’ve found who the real victims in this country are: Those who are faced with disposing of trash. Using a form to stop someone who is actually harassing you is one thing. Crying about not being taken off a mailing list in a time that is unreasonable to some is not.

          • dg says:

            Bullshit. This guy isn’t wrong at all – he’s following the LAW and precedent set by the US Supreme Court. The mailers who were responsible for this law were granted appeals to the Sup Ct TWICE – both times they were shot down by the Court. The court ruled that the recipient of an unwanted mailpiece has the complete, unfettered, and unreviewable discretion as to what is and is not a pandering or erotic advertisement and that the recipient can classify a dry goods catalog as such if he so desires.

            All the USPS gets to do is to issue and enforce the order. Nothing is unconstitutional because the mailer knows precisely what they must do ( stop mailings, remove name from lists, don’t sell names), and it’s the wish of the recipient.

            In fact, the Court goes on further to explain: “While it’s true that some recipients may miss out on some messages, that is their choice. The Court has long held the constitutionality of homeowners to post “No Soliciting” or “No Trespassing”, and to require a recipient to receive unwanted mail would be tantamount to legalizing a form of trespass.

            I used to “just throw it out”. Then I went out of town for two weeks. Had a PO Box so I didn’t have my mail held. I came back and found my box stuffed, and a note to pick up additional mail at the front counter. Went to the counter, stood in that LINE for 45 minutes only to receive a box which weighed over 70 lbs, and which was 99.9% JUNK MAIL. I wrote “Refused. Return to Sender.” on every piece and poured it back into the mailbox. The assholes at the USPS put it back in my box repeat ad nauseum even though the Postal Inspectors told them and the local Postmaster that I had the right to refuse whatever I wanted by marking it as such, and that they couldn’t redeposit in my box.

            Then I discovered Form 1500. Started filing PO’s against every mailer that sent me unwanted crap. Now I get barely any, and that which I do gets a PO against it. Those who violate it get complaints, and declarations, and ultimately hauled up in front of a Federal Judge to explain why they can’t read and comply with the Order.

            If everyone did this, then we wouldn’t have these asinine opt-out schemes… BBB is one of the worst offenders – fill out the Form 1500 and don’t look back.

            • LinebackerU says:

              Got it. Technically you’re allowed to do that. I just have to much respect for myself to flag BB&B flyers as “sexually explicit”.

              • StaudtCJ says:

                Well, after explaining to my 8 year old why someone would prefer satin sheets, I can see labeling them.

              • dg says:

                I would be more than happy to fill out a different form which had the same force of Law behind it, but given that there’s no other option, I avail myself of what’s available. I respect myself too much not to do it – an arm of the Government wants to make enforcing our rights as difficult as possible, so I’m doing the American thing and availing myself of my rights as best I can.

                I find it offensive that when I tell someone I don’t want something, that they try to shove it in my face anyway. And that because an arm of the government is making money from delivering it that they want to facilitate the in-your-face aspect of the item as well – even though a different part of the Government tells them otherwise.

              • kpieckiel says:

                Too much respect? Are you serious? I have too much respect for myself to not let advertisers walk all over me as they peddle their wares. I’m not afraid to stand up for what I want instead of fall to the whims of a marketing department. I have every right to refuse to accept anything in my home that I don’t want, and this is the only viable, legal option I have for refusing such advertising.

  7. SkokieGuy says:

    Noel, curious, you claim to be a customer of BB&B, yet you don’t want their mailings?

    You don’t want to know what’s on sale at a store you patronize?

    You don’t want to receive coupons to enable you to pay 20% less at a business you are a customer of?

    • jessjj347 says:

      “As a perspective customer of Bed Bath and Beyond”

      I think he meant potential, perhaps.

    • dg says:

      I’m a customer of CDW and I don’t want their mailings. Why? Because they send out too damn many of them. It never ends.

      And when I want something, I just check websites to see what’s available at the best price – then I buy it from there. Just because someone has a “Sale” doesn’t mean I’m going to buy… I don’t buy into that marketing psychological manipulation…

  8. NarcolepticGirl says:

    Am I the only person who loves junk mail?

    • kpieckiel says:

      Yes, you are. ;)

    • bhr says:

      no. Im on mailing list for about 5 stores, and I love it. One chain sends me $10 gift cards for my birthday and christmas and the rest send nice coupons. If I dont want em we have single stream recycling.

    • The Marionette says:

      there’s been a few i’ve gotten, more particularly this one that comes in a blue envelope and has a bunch of coupons some are actually useful. The rest I either give to ppl or try to recycle in some way (making cat litter from them).

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      I get catalogs in the mail from a variety of places, some because I’ve requested it and others that I have no idea how they got my name/address but I love them. I like to sit on the couch and look at them and circle what I would buy if I had any money.

      Some of them put a sticker on that says “If you don’t order this will be your last catalog!” but then they start up again after a while. If I save the last one, when I do have money I can usually go to their website and find the item I was interested in.

    • brinks says:

      Junk mail often equals coupons or sale notifications. And the Lillian Vernon catalog is enjoyed by many of my guests as an excellent bathroom read.

  9. kataisa says:

    This is yet another offensive direct mail tactic that many businesses use and I wish it would stop. They can add your name to their junk mail list in two seconds but somehow it takes them six months to remove your name from their list! It’s so bogus.

    I don’t understand how it behooves a business to ignore a customer’s simple request and risk angering them so much that said customer ends up boycotting their products.

    • dragonfire81 says:

      my guess is they are hoping you’ll forget about your request in a month or so and therefore they can keep throwing junk mail at you until you call to complain about it again.

    • BStu78 says:

      They aren’t ignoring it. But they can’t take your name off a mailing which has already been prepared to be mailed. They can honor the request going forward, but the nature of many large direct mail campaigns is the doing them cost effectively requires them to do as much work at once, even if the strategy calls for the mailing to go out in the future. I’ve organized direct mail campaigns at a much smaller scale, but even for me there can be a month or more gap between putting together a mailing list and having that mailing reach homes. And that’s doing it as directly and inefficiently as possible. Remember, they don’t just have to account for mailings waiting to go out but also the delay from the post office which can be 3 weeks or longer in the worst cases.

      This is just how direct mail works. Its a slow process. It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t feel like it should be, that’s the reality in the current environment.

  10. weestrom says:

    I advise him to stop conflating perspective and prospective when trying to use big words she doesn’t really understand.

  11. alienaa says:

    Not exactly attacking the original poster, but what’s so hard about simply tossing the junk into the trash can?? Unless you are charged by the ounce for trash, or your legitimate mail is being crammed, what’s the harm???

    It makes sense that it could take a few months to stop getting the junk mail. They probably outsource the mailing list to a 3rd party printer. This printer probably has a few months jump on the mailers to keep up with demand. Just give it a little more time & be thankful if this is your biggest problem these days.

    • Red Cat Linux says:

      I went on vacation for a week and neglected to stop my mail.

      I came back to an empty mailbox and a note from the postal carrier. It was too much for the box, and I need to come to the PO to pick it up. I arrive and am given a full rectangular plastic mail bucket of mail. Once I get home and sort it, fully 3/4 of it is stuff I want. The rest is junk that goes right in the trash.

      Like the OP I’ve lost my patience with paper spam.

    • dg says:

      Some of the junk mail is dangerous to receive. Pre-approved credit card offers are one such danger. When they fall into the wrong hands – criminals use them to open accounts in your name. If you never get them, this is one less thing to worry about.

      You can’t just throw out junk mail either – if it’s got your name on it, you should really shred it. Otherwise you risk identity theft scams against you. Even stuff that comes to “householder, current recipient, boxholder” and the like can be used to socially engineer some fool at a company into believing that someone else is you…

      And when a ton of this crap collects around your front door because you’re not home – it’s a big sign to burglars and other fools that you’re not around and ripe for the picking…

      There’s more scams… just search the Net…

    • StaudtCJ says:

      It’s also the waste. Why should I have to throw it out? Why are they mailing me trash? Why are they forcing me to be a consumer of a product made from non-recycled materials that may or may not be recyclable? I don’t want their dead trees, thank you.

    • kpieckiel says:

      No, it doesn’t make sense that it takes months to stop getting junk mail. Yes, there’s a physical process involved, but consider (1) that for a lot of people they didn’t ask to be on the mailing list in the first place, and (2) I have every right to refuse to accept into my home anything I don’t want.

  12. BStu78 says:

    I understand the frustration, but I can’t fault BB&B here. The nature of their direct mail strategy suggests a lot of it is done in huge batches. In 2010, that is something businesses due to make their direct mail campaigns more efficient. It would cost enormously more to do each mailing individually just to save a few cents on mailing to disinterested parties. These strategies are used because they save companies money. Given the extremely low impact it has on the customer, I just don’t see the big deal.

  13. Brian says:

    I agree with your hatred of junk mail, Noel. But this company does something far worse: They ask me how I am doing about 35 times when I’m in the store. I avoid the store for that reason only. Literally every employee asks me this and it really irritates me.

  14. backinpgh says:

    You could freecycle them if you care enough…on our local list people are always asking for them.

  15. HelloClairice says:

    I work in the direct mail business and mail on BB&B’s scale is definitely printed WAY in advance. They can’t just manually pull out someone who calls in to opt-out once it’s printed. Just the nature of junk mail, unfortunately.

    The nice thing about BB&B’s coupons is that you can use one from 10 years ago and no one will bat an eye. Expiration dates mean nothing there. Of course, they do mark everything up an extra 20% since they know almost everyone is coming in with a coupon..

    • dg says:

      Sure they can – it’s in a stack that goes into a bin that gets sorted by zip + 4 zip code and delivered to the post office. Find the tray, rifle thru it, and pull out the unwanted crap. But they don’t want to do that.

      That’s why Form 1500’s are so nice. Takes effect 30 days from the date they receive it from the USPS. So whatever they have to do to be compliant with USPS, they can certainly do without the PO – but they want to be schmucks about it because in a marketer’s warped universe – someone, somewhere might buy something if you irritate the shit out of them enough about it…

    • lyllydd says:

      The one near my home has stopped taking the expired coupons. That’s why they print an EXPIRATION DATE on them.

  16. CFinWV says:

    Dang, I keep submitting my address so I can *get* the coupons but they never seem to add me! (For real.)

  17. jdmba says:

    Wait … what? Of all the catalogs why would you want off THAT one? 20% off or $5 off per item … I’LL TAKE YOUR CATALOG IF YOU DON’T WANT IT.

  18. KPS2010 says:

    You live an apt D dag….just drop it on the floor someone will use it. These coupons work at Babies R us which is great if you are a new parent.

  19. Bix says:

    “I asked to speak to a supervisor at which point I was told again that removing from the physical mailing list can take 3-4 months. The supervisor informed me that this was because the mailings are pre-printed and given to the USPS in advance that far. Even if that is the case it seems ridiculous that in 2010 it takes a quarter of a year 3-4 months to STOP mailings that a person has no interest in receiving.”

    1. It’s not ridiculous. BB&B doesn’t have the mailings anymore.
    2. The BB&B mailings that I get are usually addressed to “resident” and not me. Everyone I know gets them.
    3. They’re great coupons (their prices after 20% off are as good as the best online prices I’ve seen for a bunch of items) that never really expire for a store that’s as good as anyone about returns.
    4. I was not surprised to go back and see that Phil posted this after I read the story.

  20. mbz32190 says:

    Even if you are not on their list, you will still get bombarded with coupons. They seem to be shoving them in every newspaper/grocery circular bundle mailing. I at least get two-to-three a week (including the one in the sales circular I somehow signed up for).
    I usually don’t use them, as you know by the amount of coupons, every item is already marked up 20% more than it should be. (And can still do better getting kitchen/home stuff at Target).

  21. ldavis480 says:

    I have a unique way of being able to deal with this. I just happen to be the abuse role contact at my ISP — this is not a paid function, although many years ago it used to be. I just elected to keep assisting them when I left elsewhere and they repay me with free colo, for both of us it is an excellent tradeoff.

    Anyway, I digress. When a company refuses to remove me from a list they quickly find their way onto our private blocklists. A couple good cases are Kohls and Kraft Gevalia foods. Both used to be very prolific bulk mailers, they may still be. In Gevalia’s case they are known spammers and have earned themselves a permanent entry on our blacklists. In my opinion the only way to deal with these people are to block and forget. Our servers, our rules.

    • ldavis480 says:

      Ok, replying to yourself, a sign of madness. I responded to this article without reading it carefully and realizing this posting was about email spam, mea culpa.

    • psm321 says:

      Do your customers know that you block e-mail to them because of a personal vendetta?

  22. clickable says:

    He can send the mailings to me. I’ll be happy to accept the 20% off and $5 off coupons that arrive in the mail maybe twice a month. B3 honors them anytime, even years after they expire. I’m still working on a stack dating back to about 2004.

    3-4 months seems like a longish time to delete a name from the list, but seriously, in the meantime, I’m sure he wouldn’t have to work too hard to find a neighbor or co-worker or friend who’ll be happy to get the coupons, and at least the mailings he’ll still get before the cancellation kicks in won’t go to waste.

  23. SphinxRB says:

    I stopped shopping there when their coupons were no longer good for anythng. Everytime I went there to use coupon, I’d find an item, then find out it was no good for that particular item. So I just don’t go there anymore and throw the coupon away. When we get a flyer, I don’t even look at it, just toss it aside. If I want something, I just wait for a sale on it at Target or somewhere.

  24. Yoda1979 says:

    Just pass them on to me. I recently relocated to a new city and it took me three months of trying to get the coupons again. Why would you put up such a fight about a 20% off of any item coupon or $5 off any item over $15 from a store that has good prices, good products, good customer service, and a nice return policy? I don’t care for many big box retailers but I like BB&B. Just this evening my wife and I bought a new set of curtains and each purchased one panel separately with one of their coupons. Good savings.

  25. lyllydd says:

    Um, what’s so tough about opting out of junk mail?

    I understand that teh interwebs may confuse some people, but I opted out back in the early 1990s, and now the only mailings I get are the ones I actually want, for stores I frequent.

  26. ams199 says:

    I had the same issue at my old apartment. I filled out their Direct Mail unsubscribe form online, and presto, in 2 months I was coupon-free.