Are we losing the junk mail war?

WordPress tells me the biggest single search that brings people to this blog is opt out information – for every kind of junk mail. It used to be specifically Market Value Place, Geico, and once in a while, Chase Bank. Now there’s so much junk mail coming from every direction, especially from credit card companies, most of which I’ve never heard of.

These bother me particularly because they contain personal information that can be used to fraud my family. Last week I caught a transient rifling through my recycling bin at 2:00 in the afternoon, within five yards of my mailbox. 

These mailers never seem to give opt-out information, unless it’s the usual advice to contact Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.  These companies require your social security number to remove you from the mailing lists, which I find absurd. 

Of course, you’ve heard the latest about Equifax:

https://www.consumerreports.org/privacy/what-consumers-need-to-know-about-the-equifax-data-breach/

Why do I need my SSN to get off mailing lists? Isn’t my name and address enough? These junk mailers can get my information from these “consumer reporting” companies, but I can’t access my own personal information or control it without giving up my SSN? To a company that flings it into the “dark web”? 

For now I’ve been shredding this junk into my food composter, but I don’t know if that’s good for my grubs. It’s frustrating that we have laws that are not enforced – they are supposed to put an “opt out” contact on the mailer, but now they get away with sending you to the credit reporting agencies. Agencies that report your personal information to any Tom, Dick or Sally that comes along. 

But local junk advertisers are easier to reach. Whenever I get a piece of junk from a local mailer I call the business(es) listed on the mailer and tell them I don’t do business with junk mailers. The other day I got a postcard from a local realtor – I called the guy and politely told him, my husband and I have bought and sold a few houses here in Chico, and we have a few more deals ahead of us, and we don’t get our realtors off junk mail.   We get them off realty signs that say “SOLD!” I told him he’d lost my business before he even had a chance to get it, because he put garbage in my mailbox.  I don’t forget names. 

I was very nice, and he thanked me, but I don’t know if I got  to him. Well, I’ll tell you what, Blake, if I get another post card from you, I’m going to call you again, and here’s some advice – don’t answer your cell phone when you’re driving.

That’s all I’ve got for you right now folks. If I ever get the nerve to send my SSN to Equifax, I’ll let you know. Until then I feed it to the grubs. 

 

 

 

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New opt-out information for Enterprise Record trash mailer Market Value Place

Wednesday my stats show one of the busiest days on this blog. Looking down the lists of searches and hits, I saw 18 specific searches for opt out information – the most common term – “m.v.p. – market value place” –  and 11 different posts were hit,  specifically about the local edition of Market Value Place.

I remarked about this to my husband – there are always searches for this specific information on the stats report, at least 5 or more a week.  But Wedneday was a new high. The next day showed almost at many. 

He said, “Oh, I forgot to tell you… when me and Biscuit went out the other morning, those things were all up and down the street.” 

My neck hairs stood up – “it wasn’t in our driveway was it?” I’ve made it very clear to the staff down at Chico Enterprise Record, who prints and distributes this ready-made trash, that it better not show up in my mail box or driveway again. Now they don’t put it in your mailbox, they have someone drive up your street and huck them on the ground at the end of every driveway. 

My husband said “Nope,” and I know he wasn’t just lying to keep me from getting pissed off – he saw that getting pissed off made a difference, so he’s learned to leave the old dog a little bit more lead.

I think it tickles him to see me on a tear, especially when I’m right.

I’ve  been noticing these searches on the increase for about a week, so I had already contacted ER staffer Jenny Jurdana to ask if the opt-out information was still good, and just to rub a little salt in her ass – I told her my blog had been hit hard with requests for this information lately.

I’m always polite with this gal, despite the fact that lemmings like her make me sick, and she’s always cheerful and professional. Well good for that, there’s a lot of cubicle space in Hell for people who are cheerful and professional about doing bad things.

Hi Juanita, 

We have a new point person for Opt Out requests. Folks can send the request to Clint Royer at croyer@chicoer.com.

Thanks, Jenny”

So there it is – new opt out information for Market Value Place.

Stay firm people, it really works.

Opting out of junk mail really does work – keep trying

Whenever I look at the statistics for the blog I see  – always – the Number One search is something like “how to get rid of those pre-screened credit offers” or “how to get rid of  junk mail,” etc.  Lately Geico opt-out information seems to be the most searched.

Well here’s what worked for me – for Geico mailings anyway:

http://optout.geico.com/marketing/

When I was a young housewife with two tiny kids, it used to drive me crazy the amount of time I spent trying to figure out how to get rid of junk mail. Our mailbox was routinely stuffed full to the point of choking. In those days, before the internet and online shopping became so comfortable, there were offers by mail, for everything from children’s book clubs to vitamins – anybody remember catalogs? 

Yes I bit on some of them – we bought Christmas cards from the National Wildlife Foundation, books from Scholastic, and gave small amounts of money to various charities. 

But most of it was just garbage, and then there were the credit offers. In those days credit offers that fell into the wrong hands could be used to fraud the recipient, or so we were told, and it made me ultra paranoid to just  throw those in the trash. We were told by law enforcement agencies that creeps would actually go through your trash to get those, that they should be completely destroyed. So, no  kidding – I was spending at least 15 minutes a day tearing stuff up, putting it in our composter, burning it in our chimenea, whatever I could think of. 

My mom gave me a cheap shredder, and then it became sport! It was really fun, running crap through my little shredder. I still put it in the compost or burned it, but it was a lot easier than tearing it with my hands.

As I recall, Chase Bank was the biggest offender, and I still find searches specifically looking for Chase Bank opt out info.  Searching online for their opt-out, I find the link I had used before is no longer good.  I also found many complaints from people – the main complaint is identical mailings, coming as often as twice a week. I found this interesting page on the Chase website, where they admit people can steal your “identity” through “dumpster diving.”

https://www.chase.com/digital/resources/privacy-security/questions/identity-theft

But I couldn’t find any link to opt-out of unwanted ad mailings. Frankly I don’t get these anymore – I actually printed out a letter from their website, signed, and mailed it, and they sent me a letter saying I would not receive mailings for five years.  And get a load of this – five years later, they sent me another letter, which I filled out and signed, and that opted me out for another five years. Every now and then we get a postcard addressed to our post office box – “occupant” – but it’s just an ad, not an application for credit with our name and other personal information on it, like we used to get. 

So, if you want these out of your box, write a letter stating you no longer want to receive any mailings from Chase – cc our local postmaster,  Talisyn Hodson – whether you actually send her a copy or not – and mail it to the address on the mailing you received.

If there is no return address on a mailing, please take it to the post office and ask to speak to Hodson about it. The law says these mailings have to have a return address. 

No kidding, I sent letters like that, I made phone calls, I complained to then-postmaster Greg Smith. And it worked. You have to be dogged about it, but guess what – there’s days at a time now, I don’t get anything in my mail box. 

Most of the junk I get now comes from my bank and other entities I deal with. I still treat them like poison, ripping them to shreds and stuffing them into my stove or my composter, but it’s not a daily activity that requires paranoid scrutiny. Opting out does work.

Market Value Place – ad rag resorts to “bomber” mailings – OPT OUT OPT OUT OPT OUT!

I’ve had a LOT of searches for opt-out information for various garbage mailers, so I’ll share this little note I sent this morning having received that pile of dead trees known as “Market Value Place” yesterday. I’ve only recently contacted the Enterprise Record, asking them to take my name off the list, but this latest delivery seems to have been indiscriminate – they just left them in little plastic sleeves, laying in the street in front of houses up and down my block.

Why isn’t that “illegal dumping“? What if I don’t pick it up? Will my neighbors pick theirs up, or will we have them blowing around the street ad infinitum?

Send your complaints to Miss Jenny Jurdana, flak  catcher for the illegal dumpers. Make it loud, make it clear, don’t use profanity, but don’t worry about being polite anymore. I got news for Dave Little – it’s not polite to throw garbage in the street. 

jjurdana@chicoer.com;
dlittle@chicoer.com;
mark.sorensen@chicoca.gov;
mark.orme@chicoca.gov;

Kirk, Maureen (mkirk@buttecounty.net)

Hi,

I found a Market Value Place laying in the street in front of my mail box yesterday. I looked up and down the street and there were similar bundles laying in front of every house.I can’t believe this is legal. We live in a town that has banned plastic grocery sacks, but we can still come home to find garbage  laying in the street in front of every house on our block, contained in a “single use” bag.  That doesn’t say much for our town.

Please remove my name from the list, again.  I’ll ask, was there a list, or were these just dropped in front of every non-subscriber in town? 

Mark Orme, can you forward this question to code enforcement – is it legal to leave political mailers or other such items laying in the streets? 

Thank you for your due diligence Ms. Jurdana, Juanita Sumner

Here’s the cherry on top – who should have a front page ad on this thing but our mayor, Mark Sorensen.

DSC00086

Yeah, “the local guys” – your mayor is an illegal dumper.

So I wrote him a little note –

I noticed your front page ad in this thing – any plans to overturn the bag ban? 

Juanita

Sheesh – my bad – it was on the back cover. 

Stand up for yourselves.

 

Keep on opting-out!

 

The top search lately is “opt-out Geico”. Here’s that link:

http://optout.geico.com/marketing/

Before I used that opt-out link, I was getting several Geico mailings a week, my husband too. Now we get one or two a year, I’m guessing, those are mailed to the entire general public, and there’s a loophole somewhere that makes it legal to include those of us who’ve opted out.  All I can say is, it’s better than before.

Really, when I was a young housewife, all caught up in saving the planet so my progeny could destroy it, our mailbox used to get crammed almost every day with every manner of advertising shit. I complained to the post office, who told me I could contact the sender at whatever address they put on the mailer and they were legally bound to take me off their list. But, I was left to find that contact information – most of them didn’t have any contact information. And there were so many – in the days before computer, junk mail was all they had.

I did notice, most had a phone number you could call to advertise with them. Yeah, I know – “Juanita, get a life!” Well, ‘scuse my crude-as-usual language, but when something gets up my ass, I shit it out.

It wasn’t very fun, that’s for sure.  When I called a mailer based in Paradise, just 20 minutes up the hill,  and repeated what the post office had told me, the man on the other end of the phone called me a “lying little whore” and hung up. The owner of a Chico-based mailer was alot more polite but acted stupid when he told me he could only take me off for three months at a time, then I’d be “right back on it again!” He acted as though he bore no responsibility – “it’s those damned computers!” 

Others were based across the country, no address. One mailer had a physical address in Connecticut – “The Shopper” or something like that. I sent them a letter and I never got another one of those.

As computers took over for mail the amount of junk dropped off dramatically, but the same standards kept rolling in. The worst is the Market Value Place sent out each  Wednesday by daily newspapers across the country. Here’s how it works – the weekly mailer is sent out to everybody, non-subscribers as well as subscribers. That way, a newspaper like the Enterprise Record can tell it’s advertisers that they will hit not only subscribers but non-subscribers – that’s called, “total market saturation.” It’s made to look like a little tabloid newspaper, with all these slick ads folded up inside. It’s like a pile of garbage stuffed into your mail box.  You know, I can use newsprint for little chores, wiping greasy pans, or wrapping messy garbage, but the slick stuff is just landfiller. You can’t recycle it, it’s just plain garbage – I’m guessing most people just walk them from the mail box to the  garbage can.

People have complained to me that they’ve gone out of town and found multiple issues strangling their mailbox when they come home, at the expense of their “real mail.” The post office is paid and required to deliver these, and they know MVP’s lawyers have sharper teeth than you do.

No, there’s no phone number or address or any opt-out information in this pile of dead tree litter. Again, you can’t complain to the post office anymore because they are so dependent on junk mailers and congressional bail-outs to keep them in business. Every week it would come and I’d get pissed off again, it was like a little biting fly.  I knew it must be produced locally, and then one day, I noticed – the phone number to advertise in this thing is the same number to subscribe to the Enterprise Record. 

Ha!  Those long summers eating Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys mysteries for breakfast lunch and dinner did not go to waste!

So I called the number, and I said I’d like to get off the mailing list for Market Value Place.   The woman who answered put me on hold and never came back. When I called again she said something rude, laughed like the kind of night dweller that works newspaper circulation, and hung up with a flourish.

That was during my much-chronicled adventures with the Sustainability Task Force.  The city had this group, they got $taff time, I figured it might be worth a try to go to them. After I explained the situation to them, I was shocked how little they cared.  All I wanted was for the rag to include opt-out information – which was the law, according to the post office. The city lawyer, old Lori Bark-bark-barker, said she couldn’t find any such law!  I asked her if she called the Chico Postmaster – no was all she said.  One member, BT Chapman, warned the group, they shouldn’t piss off the newspaper! 

At least city staffer Linda Herman took me seriously – she worked with me to get the Enterprise Record to dedicate one of their staffers to taking opt-out requests. They will actually remove your name now, and it’s good for a few years. When I started getting them again last year, all I had to do was contact dedicated staffer Jenny Jurdana, at jjurdana@chicoer.com, and she took me right off again. I assume that’s been working for everybody, cause I haven’t had any complaints.

But, I’ll tell you what – it puts the paper in a tight position – False Advertising, and even kind of fraud, really. They tell these clients that they will get “total market saturation” – how’s that work if people can just take their name off the list. I can see how if that got around it might cause them some problems, so no, they still don’t have opt-out information on the rag itself, which is illegal, and furthermore, dishonest, double-dealing, and deceitful.

Keep fighting folks! 

Why would a business like UPS Store stoop to junk advertising?

I see a lot of searches for opting out of junk mail. They’ve actually picked up over usual, so I realize I’m not the only one who’s experienced an uptick in my junk mail receipts. The other day I got a piece that didn’t even have a fixed addressed – the post office is so desperate for money, they distribute mail without addresses. What next – will we see a person in a USPS uniform blanketing cars along the street with junk mail ads? 

This ad is about 8 x 10, slick, disguised as some kind of “shop local” news sheet. 

Ooooo - Chico Issue, Fall 2015!

Ooooo – Chico Issue, Fall 2015!

Butte County Supervisor Larry Wahl owns the UPS stores in town. The fact that a county supervisor would practice “total market saturation” is questionable to me. Is UPS hurting for business? Is Wingstop hurting for business? Cause that’s what I assume when I see a business stooping to garbage advertising – they’re desperate.

These businesses, including a substance abuse treatment center? - seem desperate to me. I wouldn't step in the front door of businesses that stoop to garbage advertising.

These businesses – including a substance abuse treatment center? – seem desperate to me. I wouldn’t step in the front door of businesses that stoop to garbage advertising.  Is Larry Wahl advocating tanning booths? 

Here’s what really sucks about this mailer – it’s not addressed to you, or any specific address, so we can’t ask to be removed from the list. 

But here’s the thing – it’s got a phone number for the mailer – that’s any UPS store in town really, but I called the number listed at the top. I left a message saying, this kind of advertising offends me, and then I said I’m calling every business on the mailer and telling them that. I started with Wingstop. I told them this was no way to impress anybody when you move to a new town. I’ll be telling the other businesses same throughout  the day. I don’t care who answers the phone, I’ll be polite and quick – essentially, I want them to know, these junk mailers will get them the wrong kind of attention.

As for Larry Wahl, next time you see him somewhere, like at his UPS store on East Avenue, you might just hand him the mailer and say, very politely, “No Thanks Larry.”