I started my junk mail war at the end of March, so I’ve been on the offensive for about four weeks now.
So far, I’ve been pretty consistent about returning mail and contacting companies. I usually gather the junk day by day and then I attack it in a batch about once a week (usually when I’m paying bills). I’ve found that I prefer to email companies rather than call whenever I can, too—it’s just easier and faster.
After these first four weeks, however, I have yet to see any significant drop in the volume of my junk mail. The main reason for this delay, I’ve learned, is that most companies prepare their marketing materials four to eight weeks in advance. This schedule gives them adequate time to plan and coordinate everything—the sales, their inventory, and the printing/mailing of the associated advertisements. I’ll keep getting mail from these companies, then, until the backlog clears. This makes sense, but the lag in results is disappointing. I suppose I will see more of a reduction in my junk mail in early summer.
Also, as I mentioned in my first junk mail post, I’m getting a lot of mail from companies with whom I already have an account of some kind. These mailings have nothing to do with my existing services but are instead trying to sell me something else. I’ve noticed that my cable company and certain magazine publishers are especially bad about this. I get at least one or two pieces of junk mail from my cable company each week “inviting” me (i.e., pestering me) to add (unwanted) services to my account, and magazines begin their campaigns to get me to renew my subscriptions MONTHS before my current subscriptions expire. I’m returning the cable mail as I receive it and I’ve contacted the company, plus I’m using the postage-paid reply envelopes from the magazine offers to send back notes asking them to remove me from their lists. I’ve been telling them that I’ll get in touch if I decide to resubscribe (i.e., don’t call me, I’ll call you).
As this past month progressed, too, I noticed that I got a LOT of local mail addressed generically to “Resident.” This includes charity pick-up notifications, coupon circulars, and restaurant flyers. This kind of mail is dead-end mail, too—I can’t return it to sender. I’ve been dragging my feet on contacting these companies because most will require phone calls instead of emails. My neighborhood also gets all kinds of non-postal junk—like doorknob hangers from nearby restaurants, community flyers stuck on the mailbox, and big plastic bags knotted around my porch railings. (The bags are from local charities, and come with an invitation for me to fill them with donations and leave them out for pickup.)
One piece of junk mail I received this month deserves a special mention here, too, in that it was especially wasteful. I got a big, thick envelope from a local car dealership that contained a poster-sized piece of glossy paper that advertised (in a chaotic, confusing way) some big sale and prize giveaway. The kicker, though, was that a gray, hard plastic case the size of a matchbox was glued to the poster. I pulled a plastic tab from the case to activate a BATTERY that lit a BULB that illuminated a little SCREEN that displayed my raffle number. Are you kidding me?