Written by Michael Fones
Monday, 11 June 2007 16:46
I just returned home to Tucson after about seven weeks on the road, only to find my mailbox on the corner of Cherry and 2nd Street crammed with junk mail. Much of it was from the "Tucson Shopper," my nemesis. I've called four times to beg them to take me off their mailing list. All four times the person I spoke with dutifully took my name and address. All four times, nothing happened. The coupons, advertisements and Tucson Shopper newsletters kept arriving with the regularity of Halley's comet.
Only much, much, more frequently.
Today I stopped by the Post Office to get some stamps. I took along as exhibit A the grocery bag of Tucson Shoppers that had accumulated in my mailbox.
The woman at the post office was polite. "I'm sorry, Father, we have to deliver that mail. They pay for it."
"I don't want it. I never asked for it. I'm seldom home, and it makes it difficult for the mail delivery agent to give me my real mail."
"Well, you could put a hold on your mail every time you leave town for awhile."
"Could I call the Better Business Bureau, instead?"
"Yes, that might work." (I could tell she was skeptical)
"Here's something you might try." She handed me a slip of paper. It was obviously a photocopy of a copy of a copy of a copy of the Holy Grail of beleaguered junk mail recipients.
Here's what was printed on it:
"Customers wishing to reduce the amount of marketing mail they receive may write to the Direct Marketing Association Preference Service, which is independent of the Postal Service, to express this desire.
Mail Preference Service
Attn: Dept. 13509534
Direct Marketing Association
P.O. Box 282
Carmel, NY 10512"
With great satisfaction, I fired off a polite, yet firm, request to reduce my junk mail, dropped it in the mailbox, and walked away satisfied that not only was I saving the forests of Oregon, I was reducing my own frustration at having to carefully sort through the Tucson shopper newsletters to make sure none of my real mail was stuck between its pages. I want to believe my direct marketing mail problems are over.
Then a thrill of horror sent a shock of adrenaline through my body.
What if the Postal Service and the Mail Preference Service are actually part of a massive conspiracy? I mean, I just sent my address and name to the agency in charge of direct marketing! What if I had just guaranteed that every direct marketer in the country now has access to my small, corner mailbox? What if I start getting the Phoenix Shopper, the Tombstone Shopper, the Dusseldorf Shopper, the Shanghai Shopper, and more?
Is there the equivalent of the Protected Witness program for the recipients of junk mail?
Or perhaps the FBI is in on the scam with the Postal Service and the Mail Preference Service. Fox Mulder was right. Trust no one.
Not when it comes to direct marketing.