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Home Blogs Diary 2015 03

The SURGE in Royal Junk Mail (thank God it's not a TIDAL WAVE this time)

19th March 2015

On Saturday I wrote that the Daily Mail was working on a story about the increase in Royal Junk Mail since the company was privatised. You can now read the fruit of their labour online.

I was surprised to see I'm quoted in the article as I had told the reporter that I didn't think the increase was newsworthy. That comment has been ignored, so that it appears that I'm deeply concerned about the figures. Also ignored were my comments about Royal Mail's hilarious opt-out scheme for leaflets and the failure of the junk mail industry and Defra to launch the Door-Drop Preference Service.

To make things worse, I've been also been misquoted. Asked why I hate junk mail I explained that it's the "cheap and nasty" way of advertising – it's environmentally unsustainable and junk mailers avoid paying for advertising space. I mentioned the Daily Mail website as an example; when you visit their website you get to see adverts, which help pay for the service they provide. With junk mail the only people who benefit are greedy marketeers. (To be fair, the example I gave was a little misleading as I use various content filters to block online adverts. But then that's purely to escape surveillance by marketeers obsessed with serving more 'relevant' adverts.)

As for Royal Mail, I reckon a sustainable business strategy would be to make it easier for people to stop unwanted mail. I recently was in my native Holland for a month, to look after my mum. In the Netherlands they don't have stupid opt-out schemes for unaddressed mail; instead people can get a free sticker to stop leaflets and, if they want, also free newspapers (stickers like these). My mum enjoys junk mail and she gets heaps of it – she gets roughly 20 leaflets per week, and on top of that she gets a handful of free newspapers (most stuffed with inserts). Thanks to the sticker scheme, friends who share my dislike of such literature don't get any of all that stuff. The system is great for advertisers as it enables them to target people who might take an interest in unsolicited leaflets, and obviously it's great for householders as well. The only thing that concerns about the system is that, overall, it seems to result in more junk mail – from the top of my head only 12 to 15% of households in the Netherlands have a sticker on their letterbox. From an environmental point of view the Dutch scheme seems to work too well – but at least people have a realistic chance of stopping unsolicited crap.

Last updated: 
19th March 2015

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