Guess Which Charter Envelope Has Important Billing Information?

Here’s an excellent example of how a company will put more effort into getting you to notice its junk mail than any important account related information. David says this happens to him all the time, and it’s usually a serious notice (as in “impending disconnection”) thanks to a recurring billing error.

David writes:

Both of these envelopes from Charter arrived the same day. One of them is an advertisement for their phone service; the other is a notice that my service will be cut off if I don’t pay them. This happens when the web site tells me that it is going to make an automatic bill pay but decides against to without letting me know. Which envelope do you think is which?

Obviously the important message about my service being disconnected is the nondescript envelope at the bottom and the “Important Information” envelope at the top is trying to sell me the phone service I don’t need and didn’t need the last 100 times they’ve tried to sell it.

Clearly they care way more about selling things people don’t need than trying to provide a modicum of decent service.

Maybe this is the new marketing strategy, David. If every time you pick up an envelope from Charter you worry that it’s a disconnect notice, you’ll open everything it mails to you, right?


Edit Your Comment

  1. justagigilo85 says:

    Tape the postage paid return envelope to a box and mail them a brick.

    Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Does anyone know if this is actually allowable?

      • hansolo247 says:

        Who cares. It’s not like they are going to get CSI to take your prints for it…it’ll have dozens.

        And, no, I don’t think it is illegal.

      • njack says:

        I’m pretty sure it is not allowable, but if you are able to drop it at a package drop off without having a return address on it, it could work.

      • shepd says:

        Such garbage items are literally only a pain for your postie. If they make it to the post office (they might not even go that far) any and all business reply mail is permitted to be round filed. Obviously, this would be one of those things. Charter would neither pay for it, nor would they even necessarily know it happened (unless it happened a LOT, and then Charter would just say people are crazy).

        • BettyCrocker says:

          You really think your mailman looks at your outgoing mail and decides if it’s okay to mail or to throw away instead? I’m thinking they value their jobs more than deciding if your anti junk mail crusade should apply to this envelope or not. Business reply mail is NOT allowed to be “round filed”.

          Where did you get that idea?

        • Pax says:

          If they make it to the post office (they might not even go that far) any and all business reply mail is permitted to be round filed.


      • apd09 says:

        No it is illegal. The indicia (printed on the pre-paid envelope) is for use on that envelope only and is non-transferable. What you should do is stuff everything back into the envelope as mentioned by someone else, and also add more weight to it. Don’t quote me on this because I do not remember what the numbers are exactly, which is said since I work in the direct mail business, but they pay close $.68 for the reply mail up to 1 ounce, over one ounce becomes around $.85, and the more the item weighs (brick) the more they pay. As I said though you cannot remove the prepaid indicia and place it on a different item, but you can absolutely load up that envelope with as much junk as you have or can fit and mail it back to them.

        As I said, I work in the direct mail industry and I do that exact thing to companies, especially Discover. I get credit card offers from them about once a week.

    • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

      I would shred the entire contents and stuff it in the paid return envelope and drop it in the mail. Unfortunately I no longer have the free time to do this anymore, and most of the time it just goes right to the shredder.

    • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

      My favorite tactic is stuffing other unrelated solicitations into those envelopes and mailing them back.

    • haggis for the soul says:

      How much trouble is it to toss it into the recycle bin? Do you really think the company will take note of this kind of stuff? You’re only punishing the clerks/mail people who actually have to deal with it.

  2. GuJiaXian says:

    I could tell them apart instantly. The actual bill-related envelope includes the Charter logo as part of the “cut-out” window, which is showing part of the bill (or notice) itself. The junk mail shows less of the letter inside. Easy.

    • craptastico says:

      you know this wasn’t an actual test, right?

    • Real Cheese Flavor says:

      The other trick is to look for that “Electronic Service Requested” statement Which means that the sender is requesting the post office to inform them of the recipient’s new address if the piece of mail is forwarded.

  3. NightSteel says:

    I get the same thing from Charter. I’ve started throwing away the envelopes with ‘important information enclosed’ on them. I auto-pay on my credit card anyway, so even if I threw away the bill, it still gets paid.

    It’s just like ‘Windows Genuine Advantage’. Who’s the advantage for? Microsoft. ‘Important Information Enclosed’. Who’s the information important to? Charter.

    • Hooray4Zoidberg says:

      It’s important for the guy who goes through your trash and signs up for a credit card under you name.

  4. Murph1908 says:

    I really hate when they put thick cards or other bulky items into the envelopes to prevent me from just putting the entire thing into the shredder.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Get a better shredder. Most should cut a credit card fine.

      • Murph1908 says:

        Mine does cut cards fine, and up to 5 sheets of paper.

        But when they put 3 pieces of paper, folded over thrice to therefore be 9 pages thick, plus add a card, the shredder can’t handle it.

    • shepd says:

      Just dump them in a bucket with water in it and throw it away every few months. Cheaper, and works with everything. Well, not the plastic, but I’m assuming you weren’t going to shred that anyways.

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      i like my chimenea. i empty the contents into my box of burnable trash, rip the window side off the envelope and throw that away [because burning plastic is baaaaad] and when i want to sit on my deck enjoying a lovely warm glowing fire, i light it up with junk mail, coupon flyers and paper trash from packaging

    • Difdi says:

      A shredder capable of digesting a CD will have little difficulty with thick envelopes.

    • pot_roast says:

      I hate that too, since I don’t want to be throwing fake plastic cards into my fireplace with the rest of the burnable junk mail..

  5. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    I get these all the time from the credit card companies. If it’s a company I don’t work with, I know it’s spam, but the others are sneaky because they know I am a customer.

  6. nybiker says:

    Verizon keeps sending me similar envelopes (the ones with the “Important Message” stamped on ’em. And they all are ‘we want you to buy this or that service.” Considering how just about all the telecos have the same inane practices, I am not surprised that they share the same marketing geniuses. At least at this point, they are not planning to cancel any of services.

    • UltimateOutsider says:

      Yes, Verizon is terrible about this. They even send us sales pitches for services we already have through them. Would our bills be lower if they didn’t send out so much junk mail?

      • nybiker says:

        Our bills wouldn’t be lower, but their profits might be a smidgen higher. But then again companies like R.L. Polk design marketing campaigns for companies and they know to some exact value how much a given campaign is going to bring in. So for the Verizons out there, it’s a win. For us, just more stuff for the circular file (and I have to remember to put it in the recycling one).

  7. njack says:

    I understand what the OP is getting at, but it is quite clear to me which is which. The junk mail clearly looks like junk mail and the “important Information” comment on it is commonly used by nearly every junk mail sender out there. I guess it is to try to trick the few people left that aren’t hip to this scheme.

  8. nybiker says:

    One other way to determine an envelope’s goodness: How much postage was paid? If it’s a first-class letter, then open it. Otherwise, toss it.

    • tingeyga says:

      yep, important stuff goes First Class, non-important stuff goes standard

    • LuckyLady says:

      That’s how I decipher my mail, too. You can’t send things specific to a person, like a bill or correspondence, via First Class Mail.

    • mac-phisto says:

      also good info – “return service requested” (or in this case, “electronic service requested”) is typically found on your more important mailings (billing, account notifications, etc.).

  9. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    I get all of my bills electronically and I opt-out of receiving the marketing stuff.

    This probably wouldn’t work with Charter though. I haven’t had service from them in 2 years but I still get junk mail from them.

    The thing I really hate though is that once in a blue moon I’ll get something put on my door saying that they came by and shut off my cable service and I need to call them to get it turned back on along with a reminder that stealing cable is illegal. Accusing me of stealing is NOT a good way to convince me to give you my money. (I know for a fact that it’s been off since I ended my business relationship with them)

    • zekebullseye says:

      Wow, that’s really evil of them.

    • Destron says:

      I have not used comcast in prolly 5 years, but I randomly get notices from them telling me they are going to disconnect my service if I don’t bring my account current. No amount of calls will resolve it, seems to be a billing glitch they can’t fix.

  10. NahWukkers says:

    We had Charter. Nevermore. The service cut out, often for hours at a time, at least once a week, over a period of about 2 years. But they were the only viable option until recently. Anyway, when I’d call to complain, or claim a reduction because of their lousy service, they’d try to sell me phone service – while I was complaining about their TV service. The irony was either lost on them, or their insanely clever duplicitousness lost on me. If I’d had phone service with them, I couldn’t have called to complain that their TV service had cut out … again, because their phone service, which would have run on the same lines, would be out. I told them I wouldn’t trust them to sit the right way on a toilet, and that they’d lose my custom as soon as a viable alternative presented itself – which it did about 6 months ago. Now I get letters from them begging me to come back. My schadenfreude is eclipsed by the knowledge that trees are being chopped down so they can send idiots like me their meretricious garbage.

  11. Destron says:

    I get those from Qwest all the time, but I don’t do paper statements so I know it’s junk and just toss it, matter of fact, every damn day my mailbox is crammed with junk without fail.

    The really interesting junk mail is the ones that try to make it look like a check or a W2 form – those are awesome /sarcasm.

  12. full.tang.halo says:

    It’s painfully clear the top envelop is junk, PRSRT STD or Pre-Sorted Standard mail is nearly always junk.

    No company is gonna send actual importing customer information bulk rate.

  13. JayDeEm says:

    Import Information, Open Immediately, Time Sensitive Information, Mortgage Relief, Subscription Expired… etc, etc etc. These all translate to ‘Shred Without Opening’ to me.

  14. Destron says:

    Come to think of it, it’s funny how companies encourage you to use paperless statements “to save the environment” But send you 50 junk letters a month. I think it’s a scam to save money on sending statements so they have more money to send junk!

    I swear. My mailbox is worse than my hotmail inbox. To bad they don’t make spam filters for the USPS.

  15. RonDiaz says:

    I guess I must get enough of these but the one on the bottom was clear to me to be account related and the one on top while they have taken great effort to convince you it’s urgent, is just presorted advertising.

  16. TBGBoodler says:

    A NEW marketing strategy? I’ve been complaining to my bank for years about this. The last time they sent me something important that I ignored, I took in these envelopes to show them.

  17. winnabago says:

    “Modicum” is the trendy intelligent-sounding word these days. I just don’t like it.

  18. kccricket says:

    The editors should probably blur out the postal barcode if they’re going to bother to blur out the address.

  19. dru_zod says:

    I am so, so tired of Charter sending out those ads for the “Charter Bundle”! We get at least one every week, and they have been calling us constantly trying to get us to add their phone service to our TV and internet services. They have been told on the phone multiple times that we do not want it. But the ads keep coming in the mail and they keep calling, over and over and over again. I wonder how much money Charter wastes by mailing out these ads every week. You’d think after someone has been told them no, they could stop trying to sell it to you.

  20. PLATTWORX says:

    Citibank is famous for this. When I had a MasterCard account with them, I would receive weekly envelopes marked “IMPORTANT ACCOUNT INFORMATION” on the outside that were always unwanted balance transfer checks. Every week without fail. I had never done a balance transfer, never wanted one and never asked for checks.

    There was not a drop of “IMPORTANT ACCOUNT INFORMATION” in any of those envelopes and in the shredder they all went. :)

  21. mike says:
  22. dush says:

    Just stop with the auto bill pay!

  23. t325 says:

    I don’t have Charter. I have never had Charter, and I never will go with service from Charter, partly because I work for their fiber-based competitor and with my employee discount, there is absolutely no way in hell Charter can beat what I pay for my services, and partly because everyone I know with Charter hates it. Yet, for the past 6 months since I’ve been living in this apartment, I’ve gotten at least one “Very important information inclosed!” mailing from Charter every week, sometimes several on one day, despite repeated attempts to unsubscribe from this crap online, and calling them.

    So, I’ve been collecting all of the shit they send me and once I have a sizable collection, I’m going to mail it back to them with a friendly note. It might cost me a couple bucks in postage, but it will make me smile inside.

  24. psm321 says:

    It’s not new… this sort of practice (from all sorts of companies) has been happening for many years

  25. humperdinck says:

    Seeing as how I get at least one of those a week from Charter, I know the answer. Also, I have attempted to register for autopay on their site repeatedly, getting the message that it can take weeks to process, and to keep paying my bill as usual until “Autopay” appears on my monthly statement. It never does.

  26. Plasmafox says:

    So… they don’t pay for those business reply envelopes unless they are shipped?

    …Suddenly I have a mind to type up a form letter reply, and print one off to stuff and mail back every time I get junk mail with reply envelopes inside.

  27. Weekilter says:

    Never ever sign up for a utility’s “automatic payment” service. It’s only an invitation for them to foul things up. Plus I don’t trust them that they’d just put their hands in the cookie jar and take whatever they want. Yep, I don’t trust ’em.

  28. ZukeZuke says:

    I get the same thing from Charter.

    Those “Important Information Enclosed” envelopes literally come every month! WTF! Wish they’d stop sending me those ads showing how much cheaper my service would be if I was a new subscriber instead of an 8 year subscriber. Idiots.

  29. Jennlee says:

    Heh, I knew this one, but probably only because I also have Charter and get the same envelopes. Countless “important” letters offering various services and asking me to sign 2-year agreements, etc. It’s very annoying. I swear I get the 2-year agreement letter every other week at least.

  30. PENFOLD says:

    I save the reply envelopes & shred all the rest. Then I take a nice handfull of shredded paper & stuph up each envelope nice & fat and let USPS do the rest. Because the envelope is over 0.25″ thick, the USPS charges extra. I also think that with the whole Homeland Security thing going on, a fat squishy envelope might probably shut down that company’s mail room for a little while

  31. coasty says:

    My experience with them this month is paying my bill and them losing the payment. My bank verifies they got the money. What I have figured out is they closed my account last summer when it was supposed to be on vacation rate, and gave me a new account number. I guess they are unable to get the money to the right account even though it has my name on it. I discovered they lost my payment after they started robo calling me yesterday (2 calls in 6 hours) about my past due account (which was paid a week ago; the current month’s service ended yesterday but since they bill in advance they say I’m already late!) I spent an hour on the phone yesterday with the Philippines talking to people who demanded I send a copy of my bank statement to a toll fax # in MO. Nice. Cheap ba@#$%^s. I spent another half an hour with the representative I reached in the US on my third try who was able to give me the info they needed without my bank statement, but still the toll call. Another half an hour with my bank who say they will straighten it out. We’ll see.