Since Thursday we got a second Junk Buster-like service in the UK. Not run by the junk mail industry itself; the Direct Marketing Association et al still would prefer it if you contact the plethora of junk mail opt-out schemes the industry has set up over the years one by one. The more time-consuming and complicated opting out is, the less likely it is that you will sign up – it's as simple as that.
The new service is called Stay Private and is run by Consumer Focus. Via a single web form you can sign up to three opt-out schemes run by the Direct Marketing Association: the Mailing Preference Service, Telephone Preference Service and Baby Mailing Preference Service. Somehow the Facsimile Preference Service has been excluded; judging from the number of e-mails I get about unsolicited fax messages it seems that there is still quite a demand for a scheme that can stop marketeers sending you junk mail via fax.
Interestingly, Consumer Focus has achieved what my own Junk Buster has so far failed to achieve; the Direct Marketing Association is actually fully co-operating with Stay Private. When I launched Junk Buster in March 2009 the representative of the junk mail industry told me in no uncertain terms that the Mailing Preference Service does not accept 'third party registrations'. This was a lie – it's well known that for instance various local authorities act as a third party – but they must have reckoned that Junk Buster is small enough to ignore. Consumer Focus is less ignorable; it seems the Direct Marketing Association's arrogance has now boomeranged on them. Or, it has started to boomerang on them, as there will no doubt be further developments. Stay Private is intending to add more opt-out service to the list, and I still got ambitious plans for Junk Buster myself. It seems unavoidable that the next twelve months or so will see the emergence of a one-point-stop for all types of unsolicited marketing. Stay tuned!