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Spamagram
September 24, 2005 1:29 PM   Subscribe

Send a Spam-a-Gram to a lucky corporate whore! Tired of receiving mounds of unsolicited letters and offers in the mail? Want to fight back? Want to get rid of that old tire in your garage that the garbage man won't take? Then read on...
posted by Mr Bluesky (28 comments total)

 
Film Threat did something like this back in the early 90's. It was marginally funny then, but now, coming from the desk of a cocky extreme-sport enthusiast it reeks quite terribly of self-satisfied smugness.
posted by item at 1:39 PM on September 24, 2005


I'm going to be honest, this prank appeals to me. It might reveal me as juvenile, or as someone who reeks of self-satisfied smugness, but I like it!
posted by Chasuk at 1:42 PM on September 24, 2005


There was a guy a while back encouraging people in Canada to collect their junk mail and send it to the Minister of the Environment (mail to MPs is free) until they passed laws against junk mail. I wonder what happened to him.
posted by duck at 1:48 PM on September 24, 2005


My spouse just redistributes the junk mail contents to all the envelopes then dumps the pile into a mailbox. Currently the stack to mail is 4 inches tall. A little easier than the technique in this post. :)
posted by artifarce at 1:48 PM on September 24, 2005


I can't find the hyperlink, but apparently someone who worked in USPS long ago debunked this sort of effort. Apparently (maybe not MCI, maybe this only applies to those smaller insurance type scammers), if you send back enough fradulent responses they can just refuse to pay the postage on them and the USPS ends up eating the cost.

I know, I know, reeks of "I heard somewhere that.." hopefully someone better than me has the link.
posted by cavalier at 1:49 PM on September 24, 2005


I was wondering if this worked. I actually do a variation of this where I stuff the postage paid envelope with other postage paid envelopes. The point isn't so much to force them to pay more than the intended postage, but just to add a little spice of life in the mailroom.....
posted by elwoodwiles at 1:56 PM on September 24, 2005


The Straight Dope debunked that plan here:

According to rule 917.243(b) in the Domestic Mail Manual, when a business reply card is "improperly used as a label"--e.g., when it's affixed to a brick--the item so labeled may be treated as "waste." That means the post office can heave it into the trash without further ado.

Years ago, it seems, postal regulations required that all business reply mail be delivered...Furthermore, the recipient was required to pay full first-class postage...plus 18 cents handling per piece. However, the direct-mail firms usually worked out a deal with the local postmaster...The current regulation makes it unnecessary to resort to this subterfuge.
posted by PlusDistance at 1:56 PM on September 24, 2005


My junk mail gets sent to whoever junk mails me with pre-paid envelopes. Sometimes I include slices of cheese with the trash.
posted by Frank Grimes at 2:02 PM on September 24, 2005


According to rule 917.243(b) in the Domestic Mail Manual, when a business reply card is "improperly used as a label"--e.g., when it's affixed to a brick--the item so labeled may be treated as "waste." That means the post office can heave it into the trash without further ado.

Bricks are so old school. How about a small quantity of unidentified white powder?
posted by 327.ca at 2:17 PM on September 24, 2005


Sometimes I include slices of cheese with the trash.

I like sending back the prepaid envelopes with junk, too. But some of the stuff you have to be careful about. The people opening the mail are just some poor folks working in a crappy mailroom job. No need to make their job worse by getting their hands all full of smelly goop.
posted by greasepig at 4:06 PM on September 24, 2005


I'm glad someone else posted the Straight Dope story... Though seeing the pictures of the old tire in the box was still funny.
posted by motherfather at 4:28 PM on September 24, 2005


I got one the other day that had a "Recipient locator" barcode on the back of the return envelope. It also had a message along the lines of, "Tampering with this envelope or its contents may result in legal action." My guess is the implied "may not" is in force on this one. At least , that's what I was thinking as my Sharpie obliterated the barcode.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:31 PM on September 24, 2005


damn , i wish this idea worked . . . i would so do it.
i don't care if it is childish
posted by nola at 4:32 PM on September 24, 2005


* Get a piece of used newspaper
* Send it with the prepaid envelope


As easy as that, no heavy lifting required.

If it's a postacard instead of an envelope

* Fill in with random data pertaining to your imaginary friend
* Send it with the prepaid postcard

Again as easy at that, plus it's not a lie as you're referring to your imaginary friend who really exists in your imagination.
posted by elpapacito at 4:33 PM on September 24, 2005


elpapacito : "If it's a postacard instead of an envelope

"* Fill in with random data pertaining to your imaginary friend"


If you're bored, look up the address of one of their branch offices, and use that info (with a fake person's name instead of the company name, of course), so that then they will send followup spam to themselves.
posted by Bugbread at 4:59 PM on September 24, 2005


bugbread: brilliant !
posted by elpapacito at 5:02 PM on September 24, 2005


I had a similar idea a long time ago, my method simply involves sending the same crap they send me back to them.
posted by stilgar at 5:47 PM on September 24, 2005


Insert your junk object into the box.

Heh.

/juvenile

/fark
posted by ZenMasterThis at 6:01 PM on September 24, 2005


I had a similar idea a long time ago, my method simply involves sending the same crap they send me back to them.

I like this. I've been sending just the empty envelope back, but filling it with the junk mail and envelope is that much better!
posted by [insert clever name here] at 8:35 PM on September 24, 2005


I don't care so much about junk mail itself. It is part of the joyful modern life, part of having mail, and now & then I even get something in the junk that I want -- like a leaflet from a housepainter or other craftsman when I need that work done, and can't get anybody to come do it. (Life in a boomtown. Won't last much longer.)

What makes me insane with rage is that I can't just dump this crap into the trash or recycle bin. I have to open it all, separate the chaff from the stuff that's got all my information printed on a ticket to get a $5,000 credit card, and then shred the stuff that could otherwise be used for identity theft.

I've gone through three shredders in the past couple of years. Finally bought a $200+ "professional office shredder" and hope it lasts longer than the little ones from Target. Why do I have to pay for these shredders? Why do I have to spend about two hours a week going through this crap, and then dumping the little shredded bits of all this stuff in the trash? It's not my crap. They sent it to me. It's *their* crap, yet if I'm not careful about destroying it, I get screwed.

Any lawyers out there? How about a class-action suit against all credit-card companies so maybe all of us can get a couple hundred dollars from these bastards to at least pay for the goddamned shredder that only lasts a few months? Oh, and also, some kind of civil penalty involving the public execution of any manager or executive who ever signed off on sending junk mail offers?
posted by kenlayne at 8:56 PM on September 24, 2005


The people opening the mail are just some poor folks working in a crappy mailroom job.

This is very true, and chances are they don't like junk mail any more than you do and probably significantly less. I think I'm going to start sending mine back with redacted letters, receipts, papers from school, newspaper clippings and other quasi-interesting bric-a-brac, just to give them a little break, on me. You're welcome, corporate drones!
posted by moift at 10:38 PM on September 24, 2005


I was considering saving all of my toenail clippings and then depositing them in the discussed prepaid return envelopes.

Then, I remembered that I've got a few sets of lead type (y'know for a printing press) that I'll never use. While much less disgusting, a hand full of lead would drive the cost of postage up much more than some toenails would.
posted by Jon-o at 11:30 PM on September 24, 2005


what pisses me off are organizations that i Support, that have my email address, who send me stacks of junk in the mail, rather than to my inbox.

no, i'm not going to give you any more money now that i see it all goes into paper and postage.

I think kenlayne has a fine idea.
posted by th3ph17 at 12:04 AM on September 25, 2005


Is there no US equivalent of the Mailing Preference Service? We registered with this a few years ago, and it works. Takes about a month for your name to be flagged on all the relevant databases, but after that, no spam!
posted by ceiriog at 2:44 AM on September 25, 2005


There is but the problem is that it's a one time removal and almost everyone you deal with sells your name to list compliers.
posted by Mitheral at 8:57 AM on September 25, 2005


Um, you know, you can always just head down to the post office with a sample of the mail you don't want and fill out form 1500. (Application for Listing and/or Prohibitory Order)

This form is intended to stop someone from sending "pandering advertisements" which you feel is "erotically arousing or sexually provocative". However, the law (USC Title 39 Section 3008) is very specific that the definition of arousing or provocative is "determined by the addressee in his sole discretion". The guy at the desk might be confused, they don't get many people trying to do this, but they really do have to take it, and will.

This really does work, and it's only of the only things that will work for the crappy newspapers you get that are addressed to "resident"
posted by darkness at 2:51 PM on September 25, 2005


I live in Ottawa (Ontario, Canada). Many junk mailers include a change-of-address notification option and when I get junk mail specifically addressed to my home, I fill out the change-of-address section with a totally fabricated address and a postal code that, as nearly as I can determine, would be in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, if the address itself even existed (which it doesn't).

The thought of junk mailers getting future mailings returned to them with "No such address" stamped on the envelope has been the trigger for many seconds of occasional amusement to me.

I use the same postal code when my local Circuit City, IKEA, or Marks Work Wearhouse cashier asks me for my postal code whenever I make a cash purchase there. I like to think that their weekly sales meetings every once in a while include an agenda item to discuss why shoppers from Saskatoon occasionally seem to choose a particular store in Ottawa to shop.

Small things amuse small minds. And smaller minds write about them on Metafilter. Whatcha gonna do?
posted by Mike D at 3:06 PM on September 25, 2005


This reminds me of the guy who scams the Nigerian scam emailers (link).
posted by rwalling at 7:22 PM on September 25, 2005


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