Home Blogs Diary 2010 08

How about a fine for ignoring 'No Junk Mail' signs?

10th August 2010

How about introducing a fine for companies ignoring 'No Junk Mail' signs? They're thinking about it in Palmerston North, New Zealand. Companies ignoring letterbox stickers are adding an unnecessary burden to the recycling system and create a security issue for households that are on holiday, according to a local councillor.

It's something we should consider here in the UK as well. At the moment letterbox stickers are only a polite request to leaflet deliverers. You don't have a right not to receive unsolicited leaflets. Even if you have your whole front door plastered with 'No Junk Mail' signs any company can still push as much junk mail through the letterbox as it wants.

In all fairness I should add that most leaflet distribution companies understand that there's no point in delivering leaflets to households with a 'No Junk Mail' sign. Putting a sticker on your door will stop 80 to 90% of leaflets, I would estimate. They're not all evil.

In fact, a much more urgent junk mail problem in the UK is that Royal Mail is still ignoring 'No Junk Mail' signs altogether. Instead the company has invented its own opt-out scheme (the Door-to-Door Opt-Out). The Direct Marketing Association has followed Royal Mail's example by setting up a second opt-out scheme for unaddressed junk mail (the completely useless Your Choice Opt-Out). The result of this fine example of self-regulation by the junk mail industry is that you need to do not one but three things just to stop leaflets (that is, you need to get a sticker and register with two different opt-out services for unaddressed mail).

Still, introducing a fine for companies ignoring 'No Junk Mail' stickers makes sense, if only because it would give householders the right not to receive unsolicited leaflets. And there are times you'd wish such a right existed. At the moment I'm dealing with a complaint about Londoner Pizza. The company structurally ignores 'No Junk Mail' signs and flatly refuses to deal with complaints. They annoy householders, give both the 'direct marketing' industry and themselves a bad name, and do so in the safe knowledge that nobody can do anything about it and that the taxpayer will pay for the disposal of all this unsolicited rubbish. Really, is there any argument against introducing fines for such junk mailers?

Last updated: 
10th August 2010