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Stuffing Junkmail Postage-Paid Envelopes? 516

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the fun-and-games-for-the-snail-mail-spammers dept.
Yesterday I mentioned that I've started returning the postage paid envelopes that come in most junkmail... except I returned them emptya as my personal little statement against the waste in time and resources that they are causing. Many readers emailed to tell me that I only had it half right: I should be weighting the envelopes down and forcing the junk mailer to pay postage on my little care packages. Have others tried this? What works? Most readers had suggestions ranging from sending each junkmailer the contents of a different junk mailers envelope to filling the envelope with shreddings from your crosscut paper shredder. Of course my personal favorite was the guy suggested a few pieces of sheet metal). Take a stand against junk mail! Sorry Mr. Postal Worker!
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Stuffing Junkmail Postage-Paid Envelopes?

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  • Check out this story at Straight Dope [straightdope.com].
    http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a2_356.html [straightdope.com]
    Somebody already thought of this idea.
  • As discussed in the article [slashdot.org] yesturday, they don't let you do that. This is the thread with some more info [straightdope.com] about that. Here [improbable.com] is some more info on what can and can't be done.
  • How did it get a five? I have no idea. Slashdot moderation is horribly broken. I just posted it at Score: 2 because I have such an incredible amount of karma I'd have to be modded down lots and lots of times before I'd even lose the +1 bonus. And, as luck would have it, it got moderated up anyway, allowing me to continue posting whatever I feel like posting.


    As for junk mail - why can't you just put your name on the no-junk-mail list? It works quite well (I personally haven't done it because I don't mind junk mail - it's better than no mail and sometimes amusing =P - but I know people who have done so and they now get almost none). It seems that people such as CmdrTaco are not really interested in reducing the amount of junk mail they get, since they'd rather waste time mailing envelopes of glue than asking to be put on a simple list that would have a much more dramatic effect. The junk mail which he and others don't even try to stop seems to just be a convenient excuse for some middle-school style mischief. Of course I guess then it makes sense that he and others have not subscribed to the do-not-junk-mail list, because then it would take away the excuse to post stupid stories like this one.

  • Second, I have a hard time believing that you could buy a car, furniture, applicances, or a decent computer, and pay it off within one month.


    Why not? You will pay it off eventually, so why not wait until you have the money before buying it? Rather than buying your new 1.2 GHz computer now when you have no money, and then spend the next six months playing off $2000 plus $500 interest, why not wait 3 months and then buy it - by the 4th month (when the credit card bill comes) you'll have saved the $2000 and can pay it off at once, saving the $500 interest.

    (figures are very rounded of course)

  • How about just filling the envelope with glue!
  • Bulk mail is when an entity, with a bulk mail permit, send "mass quantities" (250+ pcs?) of mail at one time. All the mail MUST be the same. You can not even have someone wet sign each one. But you can have the signature printed with the normal printing process. They can not be personalized in any way.

    About 5 years ago I received a newsletter that was bulk mailed; the person doing the mailing was under that impression, too. However, he asked the post office about it, and apparently that wasn't quite correct. What he wanted (and was allowed) to do was put some check boxes on the newsletter with the recipient's subscription status, and checked off various boxes in red marker.

  • May this is true, but more often, the ones who end up paying are the customers and not the big evil companies you are trying to fight.

    To some extent, that is true for a time. At some point, the company either gives up junk mail as unprofitable, or it's customers go to another business that isn't passing on as much cost ans so is cheaper.

    If you had truly avoided the advertising business then you would either be living off the land with your Amish brethren or holed up in a shack a la The Unibomber.

    I'm pretty sure that "Advertising business" in this case means the particular business that is advertising by telephone solicitation. I think you read the emPHAsis on the wrong sylLAble.

  • As with the thread that was reported in the article yesterday, there seems to be a high disregard for the people that are the underlings in junk mail/telemarketing fields. These are not the people that are causing the problem; most of them took said jobs to make sure ends meet. So by either harassing the telemarketer on the phone, or sending crap in business reply envelopes, you're making the job harder for them (and in the case of the post office, for the mail carriers as well!). So these tactics, particularly thinking that using the business reply envelopes to cost the company money, is not going to do much because only a small fraction of the people that recieve the bulk advertizing will actually do something that costs the company money, and the overall effect is a tiny operating cost.

    Instead of such tactics, you need to go after the big people, the ones that run these spamhouses. At least for telemarketters, we have a legal way to deal with that in terms of the do-not-call lists. If the telemarketting group violates that, it can hurt them. Unfortunately, we have no similar provision for mail, mostly because it's non-disruptive and costs us little. We ought to invoke regulations with "do-not-mail" lists for mail as well. These are probably harder to maintain, but *good*, that's the way they should be -- if they want to try targetted advertizing, they better be ready to make sure their target is true.

    Of course, all this wouldn't be a problem if we had privacy laws that prevent magazine subscriptions being shared with credit card companies. I get at least 5 of these a WEEK, and they're getting worse. A friend got one with the amazing low APR of 40% -- yeah, right! Maybe require that any advertizing that you get in the mail needs to specifically state where they got your name and address from such that you know which magazine subscriptions do such tactics.

  • There's a law on the books in the US that allows you to file a prohibitory order against anybody who sends you obscene or sexual unsolicited mail. The Supreme Court ruled that it is in the recipient's sole discretion what he or she considers obscene; the government cannot review that decision. In fact, the ruling says explicitly that there is no constitutional right to send somebody stuff they don't want. This prohibitory order can therefore be used against any junk mailer. More info, including the complete Supreme Court decision and the relevant form to fill out are at Junkbuster's website [junkbusters.com].

    --

  • "The price per envelope is fairly cheap, but significant, which is why most utilities nowadays make you put your own stamp on envelopes - IMHO, a particularly annoying bit of cheapness on the part of these companies. I'm half-tempted to remove 33 cents (or whatever it is now) from each of my bills to cover my postage costs. "

    When I was living in the US, I would just stop at a supermarket on the way to work and pay there. This saved me money, an I knew what date the payment was received too... no worrying that it didn't get there before my service was disconnected. Now that I'm in Canada, I can pay over the phone or the internet.
  • Yes but to be removed from the mailing list the envelope would have to contain your name. If the envelope contained your name.. then they can sue you for breaking their equipment.

    OR WORSE Sending you EVEN MORE junk mail.
  • Having talked to the postmaster, I learned the way the post office counts this type of mail is by weighing it. They don't count each return.

    So, I find me a good brick, wrap it in brown paper, tape on the return card with my return address showing in big letters and mail it.

    It works.

    I have even gotten back nasty letters from the people I mailed it to. Telling me they would never send me another catalog. Like that was a bad thing. :-)

  • Besides, you don't think any of the people running their mouths about gluing reply envelopes to cinder blocks actually do stuff like that? Yeah, like I have nothing better to do with my time and money than buy heavy objects, lug them around and bring them to the post office.

    I just seal the envelopes and send them back. But I actually do it.

  • just buy a wood burning stove, and subscribe to as many junk mail lists as possible. then heat your house with it. simple.
  • This will not affect junk mail and spam at all. The only thing you're about to accomplish is the end of postage paid envelopes. They will still spam you and others. The only difference is that people actually interested in the product - spammed or not - won't be able to send in anything without any costs.
  • Well, all I can say is that the Canadian equivalent worked marvelously.


    --
  • I am a little disturbed by some of the posts in this topic and I wonder why Slashdot felt it necessary to post this story. Mailing envelopes filled with trash, glue, dogpoop? One said he was hoping his letter was messing up the sorting machines at the post office. Why don't you kooks go all the way and put sharp objects or bombs in them while you are at it. What is all this going to accomplish except making life harder for the ordinary people working in the post office? You are going to make them sad or pissed off, and create worse service for yourself.

    I don't have the problem of snail mail spam living in Sweden. I just put a small "No ads please" note on my door and the postman is obliged not to put any ads in there. If snail mail spam is as annoying as email ones are, I can understand people are mad, but I'm sure there are more constructive ways to handle this.

    Bush: Our Long National Nightmare Of Peace And Prosperity Is Finally Over [theonion.com].

    ************************************************ ** *

  • Be careful, your laugh could blow up in your face. If you want to call a toll free number, do it from a public phone.

  • I use dialpad.com for this purpose.
  • I think it's only fitting to take the junk they sent you, *all* of it, tear it into pieces, put the pieces back into the reply envelope, and send the lot of it back to them.

    --Jim
  • in the UK you can opt out

    Yeah, well it's not necessarily fear of regulation...

    In Europe, most governments recognize significantly more rights to privacy for their citizens than the US does.

  • For this reason [straightdope.com]. Sheeesh.

    --

  • Linux [microsoft.com] BeOS [microsoft.com] FreeBSD [microsoft.com] MacOS X [microsoft.com] QNX [microsoft.com]
    SUB-20000 USER ID FOR FREE!
  • My understanding is that it's called bulk mail for a reason.

    Bulk email has a deal with the post office, carrier presort. They say, we have X number of mailing to go out, how much for each person in Y area. The PO quotes them a price and they take it or leave it. However, directed spam (Credit card offers, etc) offers differently. That is technically not Bulk email. That is personal email, if it has your name on it (instead of Resident, or something similarly general) while it is still bulk mailed out it follows much the same guidelines as normal mail.

    This is totally separate from Postage guaranteed, which is what most business reply mails are sent as. This means, that they are supposed to pay for it when it gets there. As far as your little diatribe of have for-profit companies pay your postage to them is just ridiculous. You don't have to mail it, that is just the most convenient way to do it. Feel free to drive on down to where ever it is and drop it off to save the $0.32. I use a bill pay service, it is automated and works great and they charge $5.00 flat rate, regardless of how many bills go out that month.

    I think something that would really be great would be an option to "Add $0.35 to my bill for postage paid return envelope" -- I'd still stick with my bill payment service, because it's about a 1000 times easier than actually mailing anything. But I know a lot of people would love that, and if I never found the billpay service I would. Saves time having to run to the store to buy stamps all the time.

  • $0.34 * 1M customers == $340,000. Thats a lot of money per month an organization would need to dish out. The bill you are paying is for products/services rendered. Either way you're going to pay for the postage, whether it be via +$0.34 per bill, or whatever. I assure you, you want to affix the stamp and not them, because then they need to pay someone money to manage this, which just gets passed to you. Then they'll slip in +$0.20 per transaction to bring in just a little more cash, etc.
  • Oh, and if you're so concerned about getting sued, use the name of your favorite ennemy...

    Yeah, but what if, instead of suing, they take the name off the mailing list? When I swear an oath of vengeance against a hated enemy, the last thing I want to do is have them taken off junkmail lists. My enemy will laugh in my face the next time he sees me! "Gee, Sloppy, I didn't know you played such hardball. What next, are you going to take me off the email spam lists too?" That would be so humiliating.


    ---
  • Junk mail is a godsend!
    Without junk mail, the price of a first class stamp would be over a dollar (see USPS Rate Commission Case, Buc appendix).
    My company DID most of the valuations for this back in 1997. What was found:
    1st class mail costs too little and
    3rd class mail costs too much, given the service provided.

    Sure, we all complain when the PS raises rates by a penny once in awhile, but without junkmail, it'd be much, much more.

    If you're really interested, hit http://www.prc.gov/fandp/fandp.htm
    and look at what the USPS actually does and how the rates are affected.

    Given I can drop a letter in a box and have it arrive in Lost City, West Virginia in three days is a miricle. If we had a true private company delivering the mail, we'd be hosed!

    BTW, 1st class mail accounts for almost 53% of the load, even with the expansion of e-mail. It also gives the USPS most of it's revenue. But without that 25% operating profit from junk mail, mail would be a LOT more expensive.
    Remember, it's not straight math: save a dime here doesn't translate to a dime there -- kind of like how if oil goes up a penny a barrel your gas goes up a nickel.
  • Actually, there _are_ regulations about junk mail.
    Go to junkbusters.com and check it out.

    They have convenient forms to fill out and print
    to people who hold databases on addresses for you,
    etc. They are required to remove you if you
    ask. Also works for phone calls, etc.

    They also make a web proxy which blocks cookies
    and banner ads etc. Well worth the browse:

    http://www.junkbusters.com/

    They are nonprofit, etc.
  • In the reply envelope put nasty stuff.
    Carbon fibres.
    Fiberglass insulation.
    Broken styrofoam.
    Hair from a brush, esp dog hair.
    Or along the lines of my personal favoite...
    Put tape on the inside of the flap. Duct tape would be great. Then when the auto-opener opens the mail it will jam and get gummed up.
    These are just ideas.
    -cpd
  • That's the problem with trying to get 'revenge' on junk mailers. You have to spend your own time to do it. So unless you have time to spare, or really derive satisfaction from using the system against them, it's not worth it. I learned years ago that my time is worth money. Sometimes I have to just look at something and say "is it worth $100/hour for me to do this" (I figure that's about what my time would be worth as an independent contractor)? Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't.
    --
    Ernest MacDougal Campbell III / NIC Handle: EMC3
  • The junk mail is paid for in my fees, and in the price of my software.

    Not misguided protest at all. You hit it right on the head: they pass those costs along to you the consumer. When their prices go up because of junk mail, they will pass those extra costs along to the consumer as well. If they pass along too many extra costs, and their prices go up too high, they'll lose sales. That's sort of the whole point to this.
    --
  • BRM may not be used for any purpose other than that intended by the permit holder, even if postage is affixed. In cases where a BRM card or letter is used improperly as a label, the USPS treats the item as waste.

    So, we can stuff all of the bits of paper that they expect us to return in the envelope and mail it back. Just don't fill them in.

    Technically anything else is a breach of this rule. I'm sure they can't claim that it's improper usage to return blank forms to the junk mail sender.

    Zwack.

    p.s. for an interesting experiment in what HAS been sent through the US mail try this article from Hot-AIR [improbable.com]

  • no, i admit, i did not link these preapproved credit cards with identity theft.
    but if the problem is not the money taken from the cards but the result in your credithistory, then again the cards are not the problem, but the fact that a credit history exists in the first place.
    i find the whole credithistory thing phony, that should be outlawed (and i am pretty sure that is the case is in most of europe)

    greetings, eMBee.
    --

  • why at your expense?
    you didn't ask for these so it's not your money.

    greetings, eMBee.
    --

  • disclaimer: I live in Canada, and was born in Italy.

    First of all, here in Canada I pay most my bills via direct withdrawal on my bank account or via the very convenient web payment options that my bank provides.

    The only things that I pay via the 'put a check in the envelope' routine are:

    - Some credit card bills (my bank doesn't let me webpay other banks' credit card bills unfortunately)

    - Charity things

    - The odd thing I don't feel like paying with a credit card, which happens like once a year or so.

    that's it. If you can't do the same, change your bank to a more technologically advanced one !
  • That was the funniest thing I've read in a long time. I'm still crying from the laughter. I'm not sure why I find the idea of sending strange items through the mail so damn funny, but it is. :)

    -Restil
  • ah, I didn't realize that 'a brick' is the same as 'an envelope with chilli in it'.

    my mistake.

    --
    Gonzo Granzeau

  • Photocopy that B.R.M envelope, fold the 81/2x11 in three, stuff with junk then send ONE HUNDRED OF THEM BACK.
    ---
  • As a consequence of spending time cleaning shit off of their machines this particulat compnay will most likely increase their rates to the said company or will refuse to handle their mail. If people regularly did this then the processing companies would all raise their rates and make it prohibitive to send junk mail to people who don't want it.

    You see it would work in the end.
  • The point is to make your job so misrable that you'd quit or ask for a raise. Either way we win. Right now one in a million does something goofy. If that number reached 10 to 20% this would consume most of your time. The company would have to hire more people (may 10 times as much) just to deal with pranksters.
    As a net result it would be too expensive for the company to conduct a mailing campaign. They don't give a rats ass about you or me but you can be sure they care about paying you more money or hiring more people.
  • Yesterday someone posted the following link:
    http://www.talboa.com/junkmail/index.shtml [talboa.com]

    It has forms you can fill in and print out and mail to get you off the majority of mailing lists, and another form for credit cards. The first form is also supposed to get you onto a no-phone solicitation list too.

    Even though I had said that I had just started sending back postage paid envelopes and cards for snail-spam, I decided this would be a better technique to try first. If that doesn't work, then culture-jamming is necessary.
  • Not only is this painfully redundant, but it's also not very smart.

    I don't know about the rest of y'all, but most of the junk mail I get is from companies I would never deal with. Credit card companies, periodicals, mail-order vendors, and businesses that happen to share a zip code with me. Ergo, sending them garbage may harm their other customers, but it's no skin off of my nose.

    Moreover, the reason that these companies send out tons of junk mail is because it works. They may only get a 1% response rate, but that's enough to cover the costs and make a little profit. The only way to reduce junk mail is to make it a) less effective, and b) more expensive for the sender.

    Not buying from junk mailers does the first; sending back useless replies on their nickel does the second. To get rid of fruit flies or cockroaches, you find and destroy their food source. The same goes for marketroids.
  • As for junk mail - why can't you just put your name on the no-junk-mail list?

    I will likely give it a try. But there are several plausible reasons why people won't do it.
    • They don't believe it will work - Up until now, I'd never heard of anyone saying that it worked well, and I've heard complaints that it didn't. And since the general job of marketers is to lie, you can see how people would be skeptical.
    • It's more fun - You say you keep getting junk mail because it's entertaining. And then you complain that Taco, et al, keep getting junk mail because they entertain themselves with it. You waste $0.50 of the advertiser's money; they waste $0.80. Your high horse looks more like a small pony to me.
    • Civil disobedience - I would bet that if we put it to a national referendum, junk mail, telemarketing, and spam would be outlawed tomorrow. The DMA [the-dma.org] and large businesses spend a lot of money keeping junk mail legal, and generally advocating for maximally intrusive marketing. As an individual citizen I can (and do) write my congressman from time to time, but I don't have a lot of faith that my letter means a lot compared to their money. Making it more expensive for them strikes at the heart of this: they only do it because they make a buck on it; once it's not profitable, they'll stop.
    • It sends a message - Most marketroids believe that intrusive marketing is acceptable to the recipient. This lets them know that some of us think it's rude.
    Before this came up, I just recycled all my junk mail, but I'm beginning to think that sending it back is a better idea.
  • I would not recommend that since they have ANI. You'd get busted for "theft of services"
  • I don't think that's true.

    The reason why I don't think it's true is the fact that my Alumni association, when begging for money (unsuccessfully, in my case), asks that you put a stamp on the business reply envelope to save them postage.

    So either they're not clear on how this form of postage works, or you aren't -- and my bet is with them, simply because they're probably more greedy than you are. :)

    -Omar

  • >And water and electricity... what is it exactly that they are going to *do* with all this information?

    Use too much water and electricity, and the cops will assume you're running a hydroponics lab.

    As for your VIN - someone joked that they might not want their insurance company knowing they'd just purchased some bondo and paint. I agree - 'cuz I just read the [H]ardOCP article on case-modding, and have a free weekend coming up... ;-)

    A better example - would you want your insurance company or a potential employer knowing you were purchasing over-the-counter "supplements" ( never mind the issue of the questionable [quackwatch.com] efficacy of herbals) that people often use to treat medical conditions?

    What happens when a data miner notices your purchase of St. John's Wort (that you ran down to the store to get for your bedridden grandmother who believes in the stuff) coinciding with your purchase of a gun ('cuz you happened to take up target shooting last week) and some industrial music (for your skr1pt k1dd13 nephew's Christmas present) and comes to the obvious - yet incorrect - conclusion.

    > I really, honestly, WANT TO KNOW what it is they [could/are going to] do with it that would be so terrible as to warrant the hassle of paying my bills by hand...

    Unless you want to live in a universe in which the data miners know everything about everyone (so that their software can come to the correct conclusion in cases like the one I outlined), the best response is to deny access to the data unless there's a need-to-know. What you see as the most trivial piece of information could be the one your adversary's looking for.

    The marketing organizations do not have your best interests at heart. They have demonstrated a voracious appetite for your data. The logical response is to deny them what they want.

    If it's the Cold War and you're a CIA agent, and a cute Russian babe walks up to you and asks you "Amerikanski, I theenk my cheep Russian watch is two minutes slow, and I have to get to the train, what time do you have on your fine Amerikan timepiece?", you don't answer.

    Maybe it was just a gal who wanted to know if she'd catch her train. Or maybe she wants to know where to wait for after you synchronize watches with your junior agent who's mission involves walking around town and "bumping into" his contact under a bridge at precisely midnight.

    Your call ;-)

  • Sending back what they sent you for ads (i.e., credit cards upsells, etc.) is a MUST.

    I've never thought of doing anything like this, but I must admit there's a certain logic to it. I pay $1.25 per bag for trash pickup. I realize most Slashdot readers probably have garbage pickup at a flat rate that's factored into their taxes somehow, but I actually need to go out and buy a sticker for each garbage bag. So junk mail does cost me, and maybe it's only fair to ask the senders to throw out their own garbage.

  • As the other posters noted, the USPS does not lose money in the long term. You're not hurting them.

    All you are doing is trying to reverse the currently favorable economics of sending out junk mail. Right now, you send out 1 million letters at some small amount each ($.30?) and get back a couple percent with orders. A customer acquisition cost of less than ten bucks. Not bad, and clearly quite profitable. I bought a wine cellar, and have been deluged with what I like to call "Rich idiot" catalogs for $100 dog food dispensers and $2500 suits of armor.

    Returning the reply card and causing them to spend money handling it could conceivably reverse the profitability, which is why people do it. Okay, they do it because they are vindictive snots, but if they were rational this is why they would do it.

    Walt
  • My understanding is that it's called bulk mail for a reason. The mailing organization pays a fee $x that will allow them to send a certain quantity of mail $k. If you affix postage to a given return mailing, that mailing isn't deducted from the quantity the mailer has arranged to pay for, thus they can effectively send more of them.

    In some cases, I'm sympathetic to this. I'm willing to pay the postage for a little indie record label, or an underground political candidate, etc. I'm much less interested in helping out a for-profit company, and would never chip in on mass mail companies.

    It drives me nuts that the various utilities companies (phone, gas, electric, etc) all make you pay the postage on the bills now. I realize that the cumulative cost of covering this themselves would probably be fairly significant, but hell, they could just invisibly add 25 or 50 cents to each bill & I don't think anyone would notice or mind too much. You're sending them money anyway, after all... ugh.



  • Hooray! Now in addition to violating postal regulations and making mail carriers' lives miserable, we can commit mail fraud! Aren't the comments here wonderful?
    --
    Obfuscated e-mail addresses won't stop sadistic 12-year-old ACs.
  • A friend of mine has had great success with his variant. He's a) an oenophile, renting space in a commercial wine cellar, b) a UNIX guru since the year zip, with major chops, and c) a complete leftist. Not in the ultraviolet with the likes of RMS, but not likely to support John Ashcroft, either.

    At one point in the past, though, he had registered Republican, because he wanted to vote in the primary of a local election against some real tool. This got him on mailing lists.

    One day some completely offensive right-wing organization using just such a list sent him a piece of junk mail. NRA, Pat Robertson, something like this.

    Now, this fellow, having environmental concerns, had been carefully peeling the lead foil from his wine bottles, as he opened them, flattening the foil into a sheet, and keeping the sheets in a stack in a desk drawer till he could dispose of the lead safely. In a moment of inspiration, he pulled one or two of them out, put them into the postage-paid reply envelope, and sent it in. There are upper limits on the weight that postage-paid reply mail will accept, but two or three sheets of lead foil isn't over that limit, and makes what he called a very nice "negative contribution."

    Guess what? These boys only care that you replied. A hot prospect! He got more mail. He sent more lead back. He got lots more mail. He sent lots more lead back (he had quite a stash built up).

    The day he told me this story, he'd received his Republican National Committee card in the mail. He was preparing to make a good big dense-metal negative contribution of a reasonable size in the postage-paid contribution envelope they provided.
  • From the Domestic Mail Manual available at http://pe.usps.gov

    S-58 3.0 p. 914 DMM issue 56

    "Each piece of returned BRM is charged the applicable single-piece First-Class or Priority Mail postage. Cards must meet the standards in C100 to qualify for card rate postage. Any card larger than those dimensions is charged the applicable First-Class Mail letter rated. For Priority Mail over 5 pounds if the zone cannot be determined from a return address or cancellation, then the permit holder is charged zone 4 postage for the weight of the piece.

    Furthermore, for all you people "strap a brick to the BRM and throw it in a mail box... yeah that will get them"

    p. 913 S922 1.6

    BRM may not be used for any purpose other than that intended by the permit holder, even if postage is affixed. In cases where a BRM card or letter is used improperly as a label, the USPS treats the item as waste.

  • > Most junk mail I get comes from companies with which I do business in some way..

    Then it isn't junk mail. I get credit card offers, magazine offers, coupons... from places I've never done business with -- probably a factor of 10 beyond what I get from places I have done business with.

    > Usually, it's credit card companies or software companies of some kind...The junk mail is paid for in my fees
    I've never paid a "fee" to a credit card company in my life. Unless they change their model of business, I pay, every month, what I charged. I'm not sure how they make money off me, but it sure won't be from fees or stupid "free" offers.
  • Yes, but you did warn them, so that should get you off the hook. Oh, and if you're so concerned about getting sued, use the name of your favorite ennemy...
  • The greek cucumber sauce (forgive the abomination of my spelling of it) tsatsiki is one of the most foul spelling things in this world once it has gone bad. I recommend that.
  • Well, you see, we fought a revolution because of how disgusted we were with the way the government we had at the time was interfering in our affairs. That government was so invasive, and so incompetent that we've never really trusted any government since.

    It's not our problem if the resident of the UK think that exact same government is just the cat's meow.

  • IANAL, but I suspect you are mistaken on that first one.. I think once it leaves the hands of the post office, and leaves the box legally, (IE the recipient takes it indoors) it loses the "post office property" sanctity. (Otherwise, you couldnt rip up junk mail, could you?) As far as that "municipal property" bit.. yes, in the case of recyclables.. but no, in *most* (not all) places in reference to curbside garbage. "most" municipalities do not have municipal garbage anymore either...most of them are large contracts with private firms who pick up garbage, and charge the municipality with pickup. (and believe me, I would suspect they would *rather* you reuse than toss.. it saves them money in landfill and transportation fees). Maeryk
  • The easiest is ripping up whatever they sent you and sending it back. A little added Elmers glue is always fun also. I always shove as much as will fit into the envelope. Pocket lint, coffee grounds, whatever. Make it bulge. Make it heavy. Make it messy.

  • This is only true mostly because people aren't aware of electronic alternatives. I personally use a site called paymybills.com. Basically I told all my billers to send the bills to their address in Virginia; I get email whenever a new bill arrives. paymybills scans the bill in, enters all the appropriate data (due date, minimum payment, total bill balance), and I can pay my bills (har har) with a couple clicks of the mouse. It's awesome. It's not free, something like $8 bucks a month, but that's easily worth the reduction in hassle and effort I used to put into mailing paper bills.

    Wells Fargo, my bank, also has their own version of this accessible through their website, but I was using pmb before I was aware of that, and it's not really worth the effort to change (and it's not free, either, it's still something like $5 a month with WF -- yeah I could save $3 a month, but whatever).

    PMB also lets you, at the end of each year, buy (for something like $20) a CD containing your entire bill archives for the year. Spiffy. Naturally there's all sorts of other features I've not mentioned (automatic payment, ability to set up recurring payments for things like rent where you don't get sent a bill, etc.).

    Anyone with a computer can put the days of paper behind them.
  • Aside from this?

    http://www.paymybills.com/securityandprivacy.htm l

    I personally am in a sort of meta-confusion state about the whole "respect my privacy!" thing that some Slashdotters (and other privacy advocates) go on about. I don't care what anyone knows about me if they aren't going to use it for a nefarious purpose. Oh no! Someone knows how much electricity I use. Oh no! Someone knows who I call on my telephone.

    I don't consider sending junk mail to be nefarious, nor do I have a problem with targeted advertising -- I'd much rather see ads for things I'm interested in, instead of things I'm not. (Wouldn't you? Of course, I'd rather not see ads *at all* but given as it's not much of an option...) When junk mail comes, I chuck it. Sometimes I contact the mailer if I can, and order them to remove me from their mailing list. I usually back this up with lots of threats of lawsuits and criminal proceedings, and they're happy to comply after that...

    What's the company going to do with my VIN exactly? I'm confused on that one. And water and electricity... what is it exactly that they are going to *do* with all this information?

    Incidentally, I almost never use my land line for making phone calls; I average ONE long-distance call per month. I use my cellphone for everything else, but the phone numbers I call are not listed on my cell phone bill. I can change this if I want, but I haven't wanted to yet. But even if they did have all this info, WHAT ARE THEY GOING TO DO WITH IT?!

    Please note that I am NOT saying that they are not going to do anything with it, NOR am I saying that there isn't anything they could do with it. I really, honestly, WANT TO KNOW what it is they [could/are going to] do with it that would be so terrible as to warrant the hassle of paying my bills by hand...
  • Use too much water and electricity, and the cops will assume you're running a hydroponics lab.

    Why would the police in Los Angeles be going over my utilities bill stored on computers in Virginia?

    As for your VIN - someone joked that they might not want their insurance company knowing they'd just purchased some bondo and paint. I agree - 'cuz I just read the [H]ardOCP article on case-modding, and have a free weekend coming up... ;-)

    Um... I don't get it. I don't even know what "bondo" is.

    A better example - would you want your insurance company or a potential employer knowing you were purchasing over-the-counter "supplements" ( never mind the issue of the questionable efficacy of herbals) that people often use to treat medical conditions?

    If I were dumb enough to buy something like that with a credit card instead of cash...

    What happens when a data miner notices your purchase of St. John's Wort (that you ran down to the store to get for your bedridden grandmother who believes in the stuff) coinciding with your purchase of a gun ('cuz you happened to take up target shooting last week) and some industrial music (for your skr1pt k1dd13 nephew's Christmas present) and comes to the obvious - yet incorrect - conclusion.

    See above re stupidity of paying with a credit card for things like drugs and guns.

    Unless you want to live in a universe in which the data miners know everything about everyone (so that their software can come to the correct conclusion in cases like the one I outlined), the best response is to deny access to the data unless there's a need-to-know. What you see as the most trivial piece of information could be the one your adversary's looking for.

    Ah, but this is the crux of the matter. Such data gathering about people SHOULD BE ILLEGAL. Well, not the gathering itself, per se -- but the selling of it. Why? Because it does nothing but degrade the quality of life.

    This really just occurred to me, full-formed (I mean yeah, it's kind of obvious, but still). I don't have some kind of personal moral objection to people knowing things about me -- it's the potential for abuse that I would mind. Thanks for helping me realize that :) The upshot is, that kind of stuff should be illegal to sell without explicit written consent from the person involved.

    The marketing organizations do not have your best interests at heart. They have demonstrated a voracious appetite for your data. The logical response is to deny them what they want.

    This is true, and I agree. However I am comfortable with the fact that paymybills.com has a policy stating they will not sell any of that info. Perhaps they won't follow it; well, I suppose I could live in fear, but that's no fun.

    If it's the Cold War and you're a CIA agent, and a cute Russian babe walks up to you and asks you "Amerikanski, I theenk my cheep Russian watch is two minutes slow, and I have to get to the train, what time do you have on your fine Amerikan timepiece?", you don't answer.

    If I'm a CIA field operative? I'm certainly not going to be stupid enough to give anyone an accurate reading off my watch.

    Maybe it was just a gal who wanted to know if she'd catch her train. Or maybe she wants to know where to wait for after you synchronize watches with your junior agent who's mission involves walking around town and "bumping into" his contact under a bridge at precisely midnight.

    Yeah, and maybe you're not with the CIA, and shouldn't make up bizarre situations that have little to do with demographic data collection. :)

  • After reading many of these replys, this seems to be the case:

    1) There is a way to actually get off MOST junk mail lists - mail a postcard to the following address requesting to be removed from junk mail lists:
    MAIL PREFERENCE SERVICE
    P. O. BOX 9008
    FARMINGDALE, NY 11735
    (My postcards are in the mail as we speak, thanks to an Anonymous Coward.)

    2) Attaching or enclosing bricks, metal, trash, etc. only a) takes more of your time and effort, and b) is probably simply discarded by the local Post Office. The "Postal Spammer" never sees your attempt at rebellion.

    What do I do? A couple years ago, I ordered one of those "1000 labels for $4.95" deals, and the label reads:
    I am NOT interested
    Remove me from your lists
    Confirm IN WRITING when I've been removed from your lists

    Ironically, the "1000 labels for $4.95" offer was ... junk mail!

    I simply re-enclose the material they sent in the return envelope, with the label over any signature line. This way they have my personal information on the returned materials so they CAN remove me. Some of you may not want to return personal information, but I'm not THAT paranoid. The key for me is that I can do this with minimal additional time and effort.

    Over the last two years I have received almost a dozen replys, usually apologizing for my inconvenience, and usually indicating their limited ability to control their mailings. A couple letters have actually provided information on how to get off junk mail lists.

    I hope you find this useful.
  • Business reply mail usually has a code printed as letters and numbers or a bar code that allows them to track where the card was taken from. For example, if a bunch of people from southwestern Ohio decide to send in blank cards from PC World, they'll be able to tell that a lot of people who read the midwest printing at the very least looked at their card in PC World and took the time to send it in. Marketing pays for eyeballs, and by sending in blank cards, you're basically telling them that your part of the country noticed their advertising.

    I mentioned this in the "Spammer Gets Spammed" article, but I usually hop on this stuff too late to get modded up. Just remove, white-out, or marker over the tracking code (it's usually in the lower left or right-hand corner) and you've truly annoyed them, because not only do they pay for the postage, but they don't get anything useful out of it.

  • The routing numbers will identify you, and the machine processing your empty evelope will enroll you. Next junk mail, a bill.

    Pulled from the excriment processor.

  • Making costs is the whole idea. If it's expensive for the company, they will quit. If it gets expensive for the post office the post office might decide the junk mail business is not so great. Breakeven goes bust, ha ha! Outside the great IT world, few people spend good money after bad.

    Killing the whole business would save more trees than your goofey recycle bin ever will.

    The moron made the Post Office a junk mailer's whore should be shot. Mail used to be nice to get. Now I'm not sure it will get to the other end or be lost in a pile of credit apps. The US Post Office has gone from the envy of the the world with 3 times a day service, to advert delivery system. Barf!

  • I've tried them before. The greed heads know I have money because I spend it at the grocery store. I have three mailmen. One carries real mail. His two "helpers" concentrate on crap.

    The Direct Marketing Assiciation is run by Satan. The Post Office is his Nancy Boy.

  • <sarcasm>
    How about putting small explosive devices in the envelopes? Then they'll blow their hands off when they open them! That'll teach 'em!
    &lt/sarcasm&gt

    Sending empty or false replies to junk mail isn't going to discourage them. The people who make the decisions are too far away from the people who do the work.
  • Come on, kids?

    You are trying to change the world by mailing rotting material, shredded phonebooks and bricks?

    How about writing a letter to your representatives, and asking for a law similar as the one in Europe that requires companies to have a common blacklist of people who don't want any junk mail?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 19, 2001 @10:32AM (#496101)
    'Warning contains glue - please remove me from ALL mailing lists'

    So you are telling an envelope machine to take you off the mailing list.

    Since this is Slashdot, there should be a reasonable expectation of how this works:

    Somewhere out there, let's say suburban Chicago, there is a Mainframe with giant database with your name in it. Ocassionally the main office in downtown chicago gets an order to send spam out to 'select' customers such as you. Someone in that big shiny skyscraper punches in the query which then goes into the mainframe's batch queue.

    The mainframe chugs on this for a while and then uses a 9600 baud modem to call a bulk mail facility, lets say in southern Indiana. Their machines punch out thousands of identical letters and put all the proper markings on them to get the good rate from the post office. The post office duly delivers your letter.

    You, the kind slashdotter who gets pissed to hell about banner ads and crappy credit card offers, pour glue and dogshit and lead into the return envelope, which then gets delivered to the mail processing facility, which is in (lets say), Kansas. Some poor minimum wage hicks spend all day cleaning their shit out their machine.

    You might notice at this point that the guy cleaning the machine and (maybe) finding your envelope has no access to the original mainframe database. In fact, if you had accepted that credit card offer, your paperwork would have whisked to some other data entry facility a mile or two away, where the information would have been re-entered from scratch.
  • by Cato (8296) on Friday January 19, 2001 @07:27AM (#496102)
    Unfortunately the UK's Mailing Preference Service is not backed by law - any company that is not part of the UK Direct Marketing Association is free to do what it wants. See http://www.dma.org.uk/thedma/cgi-bin/incorporate.p l?&path=../documents/prfro4izm.txt&user=flflflflfl fl

    The Data Protection Act does seem to provide some degree of opt-out - every reputable company gives you the chance to opt out of mailings, but you have to hunt to find the tiny box on the form that you need to tick for this. You can't register your name directly with the data protection registrar, only with the DMA's service or individual companies to opt out of their mailings.
  • by Syberghost (10557) <syberghost@@@syberghost...com> on Friday January 19, 2001 @08:59AM (#496103) Homepage
    Somehow, I think a slice of depleted uranium would be more expensive to you than to them.

    -
  • by eostrom (14923) on Friday January 19, 2001 @08:15AM (#496104)
    Mailing bricks and such is not only a pain for the USPS and of questionable impact on your junk mail inflow, it just sounds like a lot of work. If your goal is to get less junk mail, there are steps you can take that are easier, more effective, and have fewer innocent victims.

    Many junk mailers belong to the Direct Marketing Association [the-dma.org]. The DMA maintains an opt-out list [the-dma.org]--you can tell them you don't want junk mail, and member organizations will stop sending it to you. I haven't tried the mail service (mail doesn't bother me) but I've registered with the DMA that I don't want telemarketing calls [the-dma.org], and it worked great.

    Even companies that haven't joined the DMA generally don't get much value from sending mail to people who hate it. If you write them a letter asking to be removed from their mailing list, that may do the trick.

    If they persist, you can legally bar any non-governmental organization from sending you mail [junkbusters.com]. There's a little trick to this: The law you have to use was designed to stop unsolicited pornographic mail, so if you want to stop getting mail from Microsoft you may have to claim with a straight face that Windows 2000 turns you on. But, you know, maybe it does. And in any case the post office is prohibited from deciding you're lying. (Also, that's a bad example--Microsoft isn't persistent enough to necessitate legal action.)

    For more useful tips, see the JunkBusters page on how you can gain control of your mailbox [junkbusters.com].

    Of course, none of these tactics will cause a major philosophical shift in the U.S.'s view of junk mail. If that's your goal, well, good luck, maybe your bricks will really make them think. But if you just want to get less junk mail, do it the easy way.
  • by Gorimek (61128) on Friday January 19, 2001 @08:04AM (#496105) Homepage
    While sending irrelevant or heavy things hurts the (to you) offending company's bottom line, and provides an incentive for them to clean up their act, sending something rotting will only hurt the minimum wage mail opener who has to work three jobs to pay their children's medical bills.
  • by Maeryk (87865) on Friday January 19, 2001 @10:42AM (#496106) Journal
    You are mistaken. At such time, in *most* places, you put something in the garbage, it becomes the property of anyone willing to rummage through it.

    I know where I live, once it goes out, anyone can grab it. (I almost got shot once trying to explain this to a dude who threw out a repairable gas grill, yet once I started to haul it off, threatened that either A) I pay him for it, or B) he call the cops. I said call em.. once it is out on the curb with other garbage intended for pickup, it is fair game.)

    As far as the envelope with someone elses name on it.. I believe that falls under the same rules. Once it leaves the mailbox and is recieved by the recipient, it is out of the care of the US mail and is a piece of paper.

    Go ask some of the celebrities whose trash is picked daily by the tabloids. If it were a felony and punishable, why are they still in business?

    Maeryk
  • by f5426 (144654) on Friday January 19, 2001 @08:03AM (#496107)
    Sometimes, I receive junkmail that is manually put in my mailbox (ie: no address on it, I receive the same as everyone else).

    I love those. I fake the name and address of my best friends, and fill the card with bogus information. Quite pleasant. I also do at least one little error in the first/lastname/address, and tell my friends about it. Then, I have this warm feeling because I know that sometimes, somewhere, somebody is thinking of me.

    Btw, when I order something by mail, or give my address for whatever purpose, I _always_ make a slight error in the address (for instance, there are no appartments where I live, so I add a random appartment number). This way, I know who sells my name/address to who. Fascinating, sometimes.

    Cheers,

    --fred
  • by SubtleNuance (184325) on Friday January 19, 2001 @09:22AM (#496108) Journal
    Ive just got off the phone with the 1800 Canada Post service line in Toronto. I spoke with a 'customer service rep'.
    I posed this question:

    "If sent a package (shoe box, brick or treebranch.) with a "Postage Gauranteed" or "no Stamp required" type envelope or postcard, what happens to the package?"

    Her response "The package technically has 'insufficient postage' in this case. The package will goto an "Undeliverable Mail Center" where an authorized Agent of the Post Office will open the package in order to determine a Return Address. When none is found the package is then 'offered' to the addressee (our markatroid victims) - they can REFUSE to accept this package. If they do this: they are not responsible for the shipping. The package will return to our 'Undeliverable Mail Center" where it will remain for 6 months. If the package contents are of any value they are donated to charity; else they are destroyed."

    Basically, if you send a package attached to one of these reply cards/envelops and the markatroids refuse (which they will once they are burned once or twice (as there is never any reason to send a package as a response to one of their mindless pitches)) Canada Post ends up 'holding the bag' for the cost of our efforts.

    I realized afterwards that the above scenario may be dependant on the person sending a package through the system: What happens with an envelope full of sand? Something that would exceed the 'letter mail' weight limit and arrive 'postage due' (and mandatory payment by the markatroid scum). And unfortunately the same thing occurs. Basically each envelope/card has a unique ID which references a contract with some Markatroid BizCo. They agree to pay 0.47 (cost of a stamp) for each letter sent. Nothing more - and only letters can be sent. Anything else ends up at these UMCs.

    Now, the kicker: I proposed to him "What would happen if people did this anyway. And Canada Post ended up receiving thousands of these packages that they were forced to transport the mail and incure the cost'. Could Canadian 'Postal Law' be used to force them to use the system above with MANY MANY MANY packages - this would make Canada Post want to change their system with regards to JunkMail Postage Paid letters (maybe raise prices causing junkmail of this type to decrease). This tact may be a successfull way to protest - and force Canada Post to change their JunkMailing policies...

    So I phoned Legal Aid Ontario, who refered me to a University of Windsor Legal Clinic - the person I spoke with their told me that they were unaware of the relevant law (and could not technically give me any advice on the phone). It may be a Federal Law issue... she suggested I phone a Civil Liberties Professor she knew who may 'get a kick out of the idea' (i understood this to mean he was probably sympathetic to the idea). So - I will email him. My question will be in this vein: What is Canada Post obligated to do with the packages I put in the Post Office Box? Would they have to send them to these Authorized UMCs? Could they simply turn and pitch all these items at the nearest garbage pail - OR - would that violate some kind of law?

    Ill add our email messages to the bottom of this post when they arrive.

  • by Glog (303500) on Friday January 19, 2001 @08:12AM (#496109)
    It's a great website [junkbusters.com]. See for yourself - they have an online form JunkBusters Declare [junkbusters.com] which lets you specify which kind of mail you do NOT want to receive and send out the declaration to all the major marketing companies. In addition they talk about the legal procedure to opt-out of junk mail at the post office.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 19, 2001 @07:24AM (#496110)
    A litle regulation here, a little regulation there. Each tiny step to more government regulation is another foot down the path to pure socialism. If you oppose socialism, as I do, then anything which leans society to that eventual direction is something that I will oppose. While irritating, it takes me all of 5-10 seconds to sort my mail and throw the junk mail in the trash. Hardly worth freeing up 10 seconds of my life a day just to allow the government to control one more thing.

    I think this quote is appropriate:
    "The big question to ask about proposals for new laws and policies is not whether they sound reasonable, but what damage they can do when they are used unreasonably."
    -Thomas Sowell
  • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot@@@hackish...org> on Friday January 19, 2001 @01:15PM (#496111)
    Let me be the 597th person to say:

    Taco, you are a fucking idiot.

    If you want no junk mail, sign up for the "no junk mail" list run by the Direct Marketing Association. This will have effects.

    Sending back shit in envelopes just raises the prices on goods those companies sell, which are the goods you have to buy. Most junk mail comes from companies you do business with in some way - your bank, your credit card company, computer companies, etc. It does not make the companies lose money, it just makes you and anyone who does business with them lose money.

    I suppose next you will throw another temper tantrum and decide that since local calls are free and you don't like your phone company, you'll attempt to screw them by calling your 2nd line with your 1st and leaving the line open and unattended all day.
  • by AxelBoldt (1490) on Friday January 19, 2001 @08:58AM (#496112) Homepage
    The protest is not misguided; in fact, in a society that's structurally based on profit and greed, the *only* effective way to protest is to make somebody pay. They will never listen unless it affects their bottom line. To fight telemarketers, putting them on old is the optimal strategy because it increases their cost of doing business. This is not the same as opening the windows of your apartment in the winter, because heating cost is ultimately paid by me, while telemarketing is ultimately paid by the advertising business, which I of course avoid.

    --

  • by howardjp (5458) on Friday January 19, 2001 @07:10AM (#496113) Homepage
    Of course, Abbie Hoffman suggested pasting bircks to business reply cards in his seminal work Steal This Book. But to kill too birds with one stone, try gluing the silly AOL CDs to them and then drop them in a blue postal box.
  • by JoeBuck (7947) on Friday January 19, 2001 @07:21AM (#496114) Homepage
    In most developed countries, no one opens a bunch of paper bills, writes paper checks, puts them in envelopes, and mails them. Almost all payments are handled electronically. The US is far behind Europe in this regard.
  • by Shotgun (30919) on Friday January 19, 2001 @07:50AM (#496115)
    When you choose to enlist as a foot soldier, don't complain when the enemy decides to use its tanks.

    So long as it is economically viable for the junk mailers to send out the stuff, so long as they're at least getting something out of it, then they will continue to do so.

    So, if I can make your job so bad that you quit and no one else will take it, the jer^H^H^H"powers-that-be" will have to open their own mail. This will most likely be the point that it is no longer viable economically.

    Get this straight. I wish to make your job as difficult as possible. I wish to make the telemarketer's job as difficult as possible. I wish to make the spammer's job as difficult as possible. Eventually, no one will take these jobs, and the world will be the better for it. These tactics are not the most effective tool, but it is the only way in which I can get you all to leave me alone.

  • You could always put something that is obviously rotting in there... just find your local side street with some roadkill, scrape it up, package it, and send it in! won't they be surprised! I'm not quite so vengeful but it might be kind of funny.

    One of my coworkers said his grandfather used to send in the card saying 'Please don't mail me again and take me off your list.' and include half a cup of chili or jello or porriage. And because the card is covered in crap, they'd always have to enter it in by hand. He got quite a few calls back from people, and would just play senile from there.

    'But I thought you boys could use a nice bowl of chili!'


    --
    Gonzo Granzeau

  • by Malcontent (40834) on Friday January 19, 2001 @09:02AM (#496117)
    Remove one little regulation here, a little regulation there. Each tiny step to less government regulation is another foot down the path to pure anarchy. If you oppose total anarchy, as I do, then anything which leans society to that eventual direction is something that I will oppose.

    Hey here is an idea why not judge each regulation on it's merits? Would that be too hard to deal with in your ideology?
  • by BigumD (219816) on Friday January 19, 2001 @07:13AM (#496118) Homepage
    • Filling in fake information then paying whatever they are asking for in Monopoly Money.
    • Send them Polaroids of yourself, ask them to write back.
    • Two Words: AOL Discs ;)
    • Scrawl "Help Me" on a post-it note, cover in ketsup, mail it.
    I'm sure you guys have some good ones too....
  • by typical geek (261980) on Friday January 19, 2001 @07:08AM (#496119) Homepage
    Yeah, that will appease him when his fallen arches and aching back makes him come after you with an AK-47.
  • Junk mail is the ugly face of capitalism. However, in the UK you can opt out of Junk Mail completely by registering your name with a government organisation. It is then illegal for a company to send you unsolicited mail, and they have to check a central repository of names before they send any mail at all.

    Why can't the US drop it's paranoid fear of government and implement such a system? It's not as though it will bring socialism crashing down on your head, is it? Is it?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 19, 2001 @07:19AM (#496121)
    THIS IS NOT TRUE!

    At least, not in the US! True, it's a flat fee per envelope TO MAIL OUT (from the company) but there's also a running account between the company and the postal service for returned envelopes!

    Look in the corner where the stamp would be and you'll see the account number I'm talking about!

    I used to work in accounts payable for a large organization in LA that did tens of thousands of these per week - and I remember writing the check to the US Postal service for the BRE's (Bulk Return Envelopes) as well as to Pitney Bowes for the original letters mailed OUT.

    -Ben
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 19, 2001 @09:33AM (#496122)
    Returning business-reply envelopes will NOT get you significantly less junk mail -- the recipients have no incentive to take you off any lists but their own.

    However, you can easily get yourself taken off the VAST majority of snail-mail lists with a single postcard to the Mail Preference Service [the-dma.org]. I have tried this from mutiple addresses and it works dramatically well. But it takes a month or two to kick in.

    If you really care about getting less junk, simply send a postcard to:

    • MAIL PREFERENCE SERVICE

    • P. O. BOX 9008
      FARMINGDALE, NY 11735

    One of the reasons this works so well is that the service is run for the Direct Marketing Association by ADP, the company that does more payroll than any other. The remove-list is offered for free to anyone who asks for it, all because the service is mandated and enforced my law in some fairly large municipalities and a few states.

    Please mod this way up!

  • by GeorgeH (5469) on Friday January 19, 2001 @07:21AM (#496123) Homepage Journal
    I found http://www.improbable.com/airchives/paperair/volum e6/v6i4/postal-6-4.html [improbable.com] on Memepool [memepool.com]. It details just what you can get away with when (ab)using the USPS.
    --
  • by FFFish (7567) on Friday January 19, 2001 @08:14AM (#496124) Homepage
    You can remove your name from the lists.

    A good 90% of mass-marketing companies belong to the Direct Marketing Association. The DMA has an opt-out list, which its members must abide by.

    PLEASE!! Go to these web pages and learn how to do it:

    [Privacy Council Opt-Out Page] [privacycouncil.com]

    Read the entire page. There are links to your DMV, to credit bureaus, to the DMA... everyone important.

    --
  • by Mr. X (17716) on Friday January 19, 2001 @07:19AM (#496125)
    Not true at all.. My reply envelopes from several organizations have a suggestion to affix a stamp to them, to save the organization money, instead of not using a stamp and having the organization pay the postage when they recieve the envelope. Why would they do this if it didn't change what they paid?
  • When I used to work for an insurance company, and I dealt with a lot of mail (bill payments from customers, not junk mail responses), that wasn't quite true. According to the office manager, we paid a license to be able to do Business Reply mail. But we got a bill every month from the postal service with the actual amount of things which were returned.

    So you're half right. There is a cost just to be allowed to spam you with those envelopes. But it does cost the company per-envelope.

    I can't remember if we got charged for the actual weight.

  • by intuition (74209) on Friday January 19, 2001 @07:24AM (#496127) Homepage
    You couldnt be more wrong... You are charged by the post office when the mail is returned.

    From the Domestic Mail Manual available at http://pe.usps.gov

    S-58 3.0 p. 914 DMM issue 56

    "Each piece of returned BRM is charged the applicable single-piece First-Class or Priority Mail postage. Cards must meet the standards in C100 to qualify for card rate postage. Any card larger than those dimensions is charged the applicable First-Class Mail letter rated. For Priority Mail over 5 pounds if the zone cannot be determined from a return address or cancellation, then the permit holder is charged zone 4 postage for the weight of the piece.

    Furthermore, for all you people "strap a brick to the BRM and throw it in a mail box... yeah that will get them"

    p. 913 S922 1.6

    BRM may not be used for any purpose other than that intended by the permit holder, even if postage is affixed. In cases where a BRM card or letter is used improperly as a label, the USPS treats the item as waste.

    Please moderate this up, and that other idiot dowm.
  • by peteshaw (99766) <slashdot@peteshaw.fastmail.fm> on Friday January 19, 2001 @07:17AM (#496128) Homepage
    I for one enjoy getting junk mail.

    There is an important difference between junk mail and spam, and that it that is that junk mail costs the sender real physical dollars. The stuff you recieve in the mail are mostly legitimate. Its easy to filter out. It only takes time if you let it. Finally, the costs of junk mail is used by the USPS to subsidize acutual postage.

    Would nay of you be willing to pay 75 cents for a stamp in order to get no junk mail? This is a real dollar issue, and I have no problem with junk mail at all. I find that the best credit card offers are junk mailed to me. I get menus to my local chinese restaurants. Its a good thing.

    Contrast this with SPAM, or Unsolicited Commercial E-mail (UCE). This costs the sender nothing. It is frequently fraudulent, illegal, or 'scammy'. Some garbage about buying a stock or checking out a web page. The problem with the SPAM is that it doesn't cost anything! I wish to god that there was someway I could stuff a brick in a return envelope to every SPAMMER out there, but I can't so I make due with filters.

    I am not aware of the technology required, but it seems to me the only real way to eliminated SPAM is to develop some sort of universal validated return address. Like caller-id, it would be optional, and like caller-id, you could block messages from those who don't disclose a valid return address.

    But please don't terrorize those junk mailers, they are an annoyance that causes more good than harm.

    --Pete

    'he felt himself splitting into two halfs, one part soft, one part hard, one part warm, and one part cold, one part trembling, and one part not trembling, each half grinding against the other."--Ray Bradbury

  • by beebware (149208) on Friday January 19, 2001 @07:12AM (#496129) Homepage
    First either find a glue that stays 'tacky' over long period of times, or get a little plastic bag, put glue in it, and seal it.

    Now stick that on the inside of the envelope, and fold the top over - the idea being that when the junkmailers automatic enveloper-cutter comes across it, the contents of the envelope literally gums up the works.

    If you put on the back, 'Warning contains glue - please remove me from ALL mailing lists', it'll also prompt them to actually read the envelopes before putting them in their systems. You did warn them, so you can't be held responsible, and you also asked to be removed from the mailing list as well...


    Richy C.
  • by shankster (178759) on Friday January 19, 2001 @07:13AM (#496130)
    My current job involves handling mailings and donations for a non-profit organization in San Francisco, CA. We send out lots of direct mail (too much, IMO), and we get lots of people sending it back angrily and even some of them use tactics described in this article.

    While it is annoying for us to have to deal with that, the powers that be 'round here still send out the same volume of mail - no, they've actually INCREASED the volume of mail - as before. We who actually open the mail and read the complaints feel your pain, but there isn't much we can do except put them in a file and try in vain to convince the people in charge that their mail campaign is a disastrous failure.

    So long as it is economically viable for the junk mailers to send out the stuff, so long as they're at least getting something out of it, then they will continue to do so. And the sheer amount of mail, through the USPS or through your e-mail, is a testament to the basic fact that such mailings are, against all sense, effective.



    You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one
  • by jhein (194635) on Friday January 19, 2001 @01:00PM (#496131) Homepage
    If you want to get off the Credit Reporters' lists, (and stop being "Pre Approved for this new fancy credit card!") here's the number for Trans Union:

    1-888-5OPT-OUT
    Call them, then listen to the options:
    "Press 1 to be removed from marketing lists for 2 years"
    (forgot what 2 was)
    "Press 3 to be removed from marketing lists *permanently*"

    Isn't it funny how they hide the "permanent" option at the end?

    From http://www.transunion.com/General/MarketingOptOut. asp

    "If you want your name and address removed from all mailing lists offered by the main consumer credit reporting agencies: Trans Union, Experian, Equifax and Innovis, call 888-5OPTOUT (888-567-8688), or write to the following address:
    Trans Union LLC's Name Removal Option
    P.O. Box 97328
    Jackson, MS 39288-7328

    Requests should include the following information:

    First, middle, and last names (including Jr., Sr., III)
    Current address
    Previous address (if you've moved in the last six months)
    Social Security Number
    Date of birth
    Signature

    If you opt-out, you will no longer appear on direct marketing lists offered by these four credit reporting agencies. However, you may continue to receive commercial mailings based on lists from other sources. "

    If you select the "permanent" option, they will send you a form to sign and return. This has the benefit of *proving* you requested privacy, and makes it much easier to take them to court if they happen to "forget" what your preferences were.

    Happy Hunting!
  • by jabber01 (225154) on Friday January 19, 2001 @07:41AM (#496132)
    Think for a second. Who actually pays postage on those 'postage paid' envelopes?

    Most junk mail I get comes from companies with which I do business in some way.. Usually, it's credit card companies or software companies of some kind.

    The junk mail is paid for in my fees, and in the price of my software.

    Sending back 'postage paid' envelopes is the same sort of near-sighted temper tantrum as openning the windows in your apartment and turning up the heat - because it's 'included' in your rent. It's the same as putting a telemarketter on hold, rather than just hanging up. It's like leaving your TV on all day, because you pay for cable 24/7, but can't be there to watch it.

    If you want to protest, call the company, or at least include a letter asking them to switch to a 'solicited mailings only' scheme. Otherwise you're just wasting your own (and others' like you) money.

    The REAL jabber has the /. user id: 13196

This process can check if this value is zero, and if it is, it does something child-like. -- Forbes Burkowski, CS 454, University of Washington

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