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USPS Junk Mail

Junk Mail

There are several types of Unwanted Ad Mail (UAM), more commonly known as Junk Mail:
First, there are catalogs and material sent specifically to you because you are on a specific firm’s database. In this case, contact the individual company to be removed. See the section on general guidelines, and follow up with additional action.

There is material sent specifically to you because you are on someone else’s database, and another company purchased that database for one or more mailings. See hot tips, DMA List Suppression, and contacts and details.

If you ever receive a chain letter, the USPS makes it quite clear that they are illegal, whether distributed via snail mail or the internet. For more information, see the US Postal Service page on chain letters. USPS customer service can be reached at 800.238.3150.

Then there is saturation mailing, where the Post Office helps bulk mailers send mail to every address in an area (with addresses only – no names – on the mailings). The bulk mailer has to build up a list containing at least 90% of the addresses in a carrier-route. The Post Office will then supply the remaining 10% for a small fee so that the bulk mailer will reach everyone on the route. (See Domestic Mail Manual A920.4.4).

(Here’s how the master database of addresses for each carrier route is prepared: Each carrier prepares an “edit sheet” of all addresses on their route, and sends it to Atlanta for inclusion into the master list or addresses by carrier route. This database is updated every 90 days. So even if you were to be removed from this list, you would end up back on it three months later.)

As reported by a mail house, the post office hates saturation mailings. Ever since they invested billions into automated sorting equipment, they have realized that automated mailings are much easier for them to process. The idea behind a saturation mailing is that the post office doesn’t have to sort the mailers at all. The mailing service actually prints the mailers out in the same order that the carrier walks (referrred to as “walk sequence”), and the mail house trays or sacks them by carrier route. So, the carrier gets their first class and automated mail all neatly banded together by address, but has to lug around a big tray of mail and “add one” as they get to each address. With the July, 2002 postal rate change, the post office is now requiring mailers to prepare saturation mailings as automation compatible – meaning that they will be sorted on machines, just like the higher priced automation mail! The only reason this rate class even exists is because of companies like Advo and Val-pak exercising their lobbying power. The discounted postage rate certainly has no operational justificiation!

There is no way the Post Office will allow you to be removed from this list!

Saturation mailing works as follows. Each list by carrier route is provided by the USPS as a single block of addresses. In order for a bulk mailer to get the lowest bulk mail rate, the USPS says they have to mail to 100% of the addresses on the list. Thus, junk mailers are stuck – they can’t delete your address from the carrier route list because their item counts would change and postal charges would go up.

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USPS Change Of Address

Change Of Address

Permanent Change of Address update information is provided by the USPS to anyone who has your old address – specifically junkmailers. If you move, fill out the Post Office’s standard Change Of Address (COA) form, but don’t make it a permanent change. Instead, make it a temporary address change lasting less than a year (perhaps 9 months).

If you do not check either the permanent or temporary box on the COA form, the USPS COA unit will enter it as a permanent move. To make absolutely certain that the COA clerk doesn’t mistake the type of address change, highlight and circle the “temp” box and even write in red letters across the front of the card, “temporary”. By submitting only a temporary change, the information will not be entered into the permanent Change Of Address database and released to others.

You should double check the new address labels on forwarded mail. It should be a temporary label and not a permanent one. A permanent label will state above the customer’s new address, “Please notify sender of new address:”. A temporary label will not say this, presumably because the customer will eventually be returning to their old address. Here is more information on how the USPS handles your change of address. Be sure to read this excellent article on junk mail and The Illegal U.S. Postal Service National Change of Address Program by Michael Worsham.

You may be able to be removed from the NCOA list by writing to the following address:

National Customer Support Center
United States Postal Service
6060 Primacy Parkway – Suite 201
Memphis, Tennessee 38188-0001

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How TO Banish Junk Mail From Your Mailbox

The only greater annoyance than junk email is junk postal mail. Not only does it clog your mailbox, but it wastes an awful lot of paper. Luckily, you can cut down on this junk. Here are a few tips.

Opt Out Directly (When Possible)

Each year your bank or credit card company should be sending you a Privacy Notice. Ironically, this isn’t junk mail. In fact, this notice gives you the opportunity to opt out of some marketing and “sharing” practices (translation: selling your info). If you missed that notice and thought it was junk mail, just contact your financial institution and ask about the privacy policy. These opt out opportunities should be available at any institution that handles your money, like an insurance company, an auto dealer you arranged financing with, and even a check cashing place. If they’ve dealt with your money, they may have a way of opting out so take advantage of it directly.

Another option is to sign up for TrustedID Mail Preference Service. The service is free and you can search for an individual company or organization and find the opt out instructions. You can even find out how to prevent phone book delivery.

Remove Yourself from Marketing Lists

The Direct Marketing Association via DMACHOICE.org will contact direct mail companies and inform them you wish to opt out of any offers they may have. This includes companies you haven’t done business with. When you register online you can opt-out of catalogs, magazines, credit offers and “other” mail offerings. To reduce credit card offers only, you can use OptOutPrescreen.com. Both services are independent of each other, so be cautious and sign up for both.

Alternatively, previously mentioned41pounds will opt your family out of offers for $35, which lasts for 5 years. They claim a more comprehensive opt out than the other free options.

Use Electronic Billing

Even if you opt out, some companies may send you junk mail in inserts when you receive your bills. If you switch to an electronic statement, you can prevent this problem. Some companies even charge you less if you switch to paperless billing. You can often do this right from their web site.

Avoid Print Magazine Subscriptions

Magazines often result in an avalanche of junk mail as they sell your information to third-party companies. The publisher may allow you to opt-out of selling your information to third parties, but with a large publisher they can still cross-promote other products within the same brand. Even without the third-party junk mail, the publisher still berates you constantly to renew your subscription. The one piece of junk they won’t remove is those annoying insert cards that fall out of the magazine that litter everywhere.

When possible, choose an electronic version of the magazine or start a magazine trade at the office to give your career a boost. If you tend to bring a magazine to a waiting room or a gym, ask the business owner to subscribe to your favorite magazines. Subscriptions are cheap and a great way of accommodating customers.

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