Kramer’s Dream
May 24, 2023 4:20 PM   Subscribe

Ohhhhh...physical junk mail. I was confused for a moment, when the first suggestion is to switch to paperless billing, and I was like “How the fuck does that stop spam mail???”
posted by Thorzdad at 4:30 PM on May 24 [3 favorites]

newman: that was the vice president of the post office. i didn't get the transfer. they knew it wasn't me doing my route.

jerry: how did they know??

newman: too many people got their mail!
posted by Bwentman at 4:52 PM on May 24

Success: no more Valpak. Eventually. yay!
posted by y2karl at 4:59 PM on May 24 [4 favorites]

My boyfriend's father moved to Israel, but was worried if he might get any important mail at his old address. He asked us if he could forward mail to our address for a little while-- this was a dreadful mistake that I fully regret. We were immediately inundated with spam from every charity in Cleveland, every Jewish charity in America, and a bunch of other charities as well. They didn't stop when the mail forwarding request ended. I was in hell, and my boyfriend didn't care (I guess they had this in common.)

In other words: I'm deeply familiar with this topic. The advice in here is mostly good. For most people, instead of opting for PaperKarma, you can try Catalog Choice for free first. They're a non-profit that helps you get off any mailing and charity lists for whom they have the contact information.

Admittedly, I might've found PaperKarma useful. Many of the charities that mailed my boyfriend's father weren't on CatalogChoice. I set up a fake email to impersonate him, looked for the charity's privacy policies or contact information, and emailed/called/mailed the charities back to get our address off their list. Perhaps PaperKarma would've taken care of all of that work. There are still a handful of charities that still send the occasional mailing. It's mostly fine.

My favorite way to get off a mailing list, for what it's worth, is when they include postage-paid reply mail to send back. It doesn't work that well, but it's very satisfying to know I wasted their time as much as they've wasted mine.
posted by Pitachu at 5:15 PM on May 24 [5 favorites]

This list is good and fine and legit and all, but it is bringing the knife to the gunfight. We play to win in this household.

You find those Safeway coupons slightly, uh, erotic? Don't want the devil tempting you with lurid Best Buy ads for black friday? Does it move a little when you get AAA pamphlets? Are you willing to debase yourself for 10 minutes at the post office to make it all stop? Then prohibitionary USPS Prohibitory Order Form 1500 is the form for you!

All you do is state that you find the materials and I quote, "erotically arousing" (because, by the nature of the order, you and only you get to decide what is erotically arousing in this context; you know it when you see it, and no one can argue with you about it) and turn the mail in the the form, and that company will get sent a functional cease and desist order for your address. If they do it more than once, they get fined by the USPS!

jgreco turned me onto it, but hoooo baby, this the best last resort to getting to Real Mailbox Zero. IT IS SO MUCH FUN TO FILE THEM I USED TO DO IT IN BATCHES OF 10. Your postal clerk (might, if they're cool) get a big kick out of it and you might end up getting beers with them after work!
posted by furnace.heart at 5:23 PM on May 24 [50 favorites]

This is a fantastic survey of resources to reduce unwanted physical mail! Wasn't aware of PaperKarma and will likely try it out.

I'm surprised the article neglects to mention is that when you submit a permanent change-of-address with USPS, USPS will sell your new address resulting in a slew of unsolicited mail from local businesses. To avoid this you can instead temporarily forward your mail if you're diligent about notifying senders about your new address.
posted by mdean at 6:09 PM on May 24 [4 favorites]

physical junk mail

Remember when Snail Mail had some currency as a term? Fear not, now Snail Mail is a really cool rock band!
posted by SaltySalticid at 6:16 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]

I need to get back on the Catalog Choice bandwagon and take the other recommendations in the OP. Mr Epigrams and I have been in this house for not quite five years and snail spam is starting to come back all over again. Also we get mail for the previous owners (a married couple), what I think must be the owner before that, a Japanese exchange student who lived with one of the previous owners (per the neighbors), and my late mother, who passed away less than a year before we moved and for whom we still get a surprising number of charity solicitations despite having told various places you can get off some of those lists that she'd died.

I get the Informed Delivery emails mostly for tracking packages. But occasionally I get mail for my mom and it really hits me wrong. I wish there were a better way to tell charities (who are the worst offenders) that she's gone and will never be giving them a cent again.
posted by gentlyepigrams at 7:07 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]

>Success: no more Valpak. Eventually. yay!

I did that with Save a couple of years ago. Unfortunately I had two Saves in my mailbox last I checked (the only real mail I get is paper mail like DMV bills) . . . my mail person operates on autopilot stuffing my neighbor's Save, even though I have a label saying 'No Save for this address' . . .
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 7:58 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]

I paid for a lifetime sub for PaperKarma. I used it diligently when I moved into my new place because the previous owners apparently subscribed to every catalog in the US. We were inundated with random catalogs every single day for months and months. I don't need to use it as often these days, but I can vouch that it's been very useful for me.

Thanks for this post, I appreciated learning about the other stuff!
posted by toastyk at 9:54 PM on May 24

I'm distrustful that several of these methods cost money. This makes the article feel paid.
posted by tiny frying pan at 4:50 AM on May 25 [1 favorite]

This is well-timed because just the other day I was walking downstairs at the exact moment the letter carrier was shoving 2 pieces of junk mail through my mailslot and I walked over, picked them up as soon as they hit the floor, and carried them over to the recycling, then thought "someone just literally threw garbage into my home and made it my problem."
posted by rhymedirective at 5:56 AM on May 25 [1 favorite]

If anyone knows how to permanently get a deceased person (whose mail you had forwarded to your address because one of you was their next of kin) off of Verizon's "please come back we're begging you" mailing list, I would really love to know. I have tried calling them (countless times) twitter (back when I had an account,) paying the no-junk-mail people, asking the manager at my main PO branch, filling out a USPS form that they were deceased and to please never send any more mail, and now I alternately shred the cards that come every few weeks, and save them for no particular reason. It's kind of become a pointless personal challenge because this has literally been going on for years. Verizon doesn't even know who they are anymore, but this zombie mailing list just keeps sending cards out, like clockwork.
posted by 41swans at 7:01 AM on May 25

Also - we really don't get much junk mail at my house, because I am dogged about following up with every.last.piece to get off of mailing lists. But lately I've noticed junk mail coming in my former, nonmarried name. AUUUGH. The post office selling my name is one of my pet peeves and now that my name from years ago is making the rounds again, phewwww. Deep breaths.
posted by 41swans at 7:09 AM on May 25

All you do is state that you find the materials and I quote, "erotically arousing"

this brings a whole new dimension to the concept of "junk mail"
posted by chavenet at 7:40 AM on May 25 [4 favorites]

It's astonishing to me that the Direct Marketing folks would charge money to opt out of their garbage. It's not much; $4 over 10 years. But it's definitely enough hassle to stop 95% of people from doing it. I'm on the fence myself.

Here's what they say about why they charge.
The ANA charges a nominal fee, $4 for online and $5 for mail-in registration, to cover the administrative costs of this service. Your marketing preferences will be retained for 10 years. As a nonprofit organization, we provide this suppression service to help people express their marketing preferences to interested companies and organizations. It is important to note that the ANA is not the source of consumer names for marketing purposes. We do not supply companies with consumer names to send promotional mail.
posted by Nelson at 8:23 AM on May 25

"It's astonishing to me that the Direct Marketing folks would charge money to opt out of their garbage."

Nice mailbox you got there. It'd be a shame if it filled up with garbage.
posted by mikeand1 at 11:19 AM on May 25 [1 favorite]

Oh my gosh, thank you for sharing this! For some reason every company I have purchased from online in the past year has starting sending me catalogs. So irritating! I will come to your website if I want something, geez. I have been dreading making phone calls to unsubscribe; downloaded PaperKarma and just got the whole stack done in 5 minutes. You made my day.
posted by tinymojo at 12:06 PM on May 25

I'm distrustful that several of these methods cost money. This makes the article feel paid.

The free article that lists both free and paid options for reducing junk mail, that has no control over which ones you have to pay for if you choose to, is clear about which ones are paid, and has no apparent affiliate links so the author gets kickbacks? Tough crowd. This article is as altruistic as it gets.
posted by kirkaracha at 5:28 PM on May 25 [3 favorites]

I followed every piece of advice in this article today, got a lifetime subscription to PaperKarma and unsubscribed from 23 mailers today alone. Thank you for sharing this. It will go a long way toward keeping my home tidier.
posted by metatuesday at 6:34 PM on May 25 [1 favorite]

I guess I deserve to be shamed for being suspicious of a method of stopping harassment that costs money? That's the world I live in.
posted by tiny frying pan at 4:50 AM on May 26

has no apparent affiliate links so the author gets kickbacks?

Also...not everyone is so friggin clever that they know this or know how to check it. Please refrain from mocking people like myself for little to no reason that I can discern.
posted by tiny frying pan at 5:02 AM on May 26

With local businesses that use direct mail marketing I just call 'em up and tell them that I received their advertisement and, based on their use of direct mail marketing, that I have no plans to ever visit their establishment.

Then I ask them to remove me from their mailing list. I figure the most helpful thing I can do is to spend their money to reduce the ROI on direct mail marketing by making it more expensive on the back end.
posted by caphector at 8:56 PM on May 26

Any idea for how to get someone who ISN'T YOU off these lists as well?

(I've only been in my current apartment for 2 years now, but we get a lot of flyers, bills, ad cards, etc. for prior residents.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:30 AM on June 5

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