Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Mail failure

A few weeks ago, I received a magazine offer for a children's magazine. My mother-in-law ordered a magazine for my child as a gift a few months ago, and since then both she and I have received numerous offers for more magazines. As if ordering one magazine means you probably really want ten more.

At the time that I received this offer I was in the beginning stages of learning how to get off of mailing lists. I've since found that there are quick and easy ways of getting off of the automated credit card and insurance offers, and it is easy to get out of the catalogue loop (though just as easy, unfortunately, to get right back in).

However, there is not, to my knowledge, a centralized database that allows you to get off of all magazine subscription offer lists or charity lists.

On the day that I received the offer for the hip new children's magazine, I searched and searched and searched the offer for a phone number to call to get myself off of their list. No luck. So I took the return mailer and wrote, in large, bold letters, NO THANK YOU, and, TAKE ME OFF OF YOUR MAILING LIST, PLEASE!!!

Flash back to the present. Today, I received in the mail a big, shrink-wrapped collection of stuff addressed to my son. Inside was a big world map, a poster, an envelop full of activity materials, and, hidden among the flashy swag, a magazine. Oh, and also an invoice. For the magazine I asked specifically not to receive.

My guess is that the process is automated, and that when they received their offer back a machine read the bar code on the offer and entered my son's name as an acceptance of the offer. How disconcerting that not only do these offers provide no easy way to refuse and avoid future repeat offers, but even the snail mail refusal just generated more waste in my home.

The good news is that there was a phone number on the invoice, and I was able to speak to an actual person about the matter. I regret to say that I was grumpier than I meant to be toward the poor man on the other end of the line, who I assume is in no way responsible for the policies that annoy me. I achieved, after about six weeks, success of a convoluted sort. He said I could ignore the bill and that they would--drum roll, please--take me off of their mailing list.

And as a bonus, I get to keep the junk, shrink-wrap and all.

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