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Door-drop fiasco in The Times

30th June 2015

The Door-Drop Preference Service fiasco is in The Times today. Unfortunately I can't give you the link to the article as the website sits behind a paywall (I had to pay a pound to access the article I fed to the paper!). If you're interested in the story you can find all the gory details in my diary:

If you've followed the saga there isn't anything new in The Times' article. Mildly interesting is the response from the Direct Marketing Association:

A spokesman for the Direct Marketing Association said: "The door drop preference service initiative is a good idea that could benefit consumers and marketers by giving consumers more control over the marketing messages landing on their doorstep. We want to make this happen, and we fulfilled the objectives Defra set us to achieve this."

That last sentence puts the blame squarely at Defra's doorstep. The anonymous spokesman is suggesting that the Direct Marketing Association tried really, really hard and that they did everything they had agreed with Defra – but unfortunately Defra didn't play its part. I reckon that will raise a few eyebrows in the government department. It's not quite what happened…

To briefly summarise how the fiasco came about, in July 2012 I learned that the junk mail lobby had made an impossible demand: they refused to launch the opt-out website until Defra had made sure that non-DMA members – in particular the inserts and free newspapers industries – would also commit to cutting waste. As the article in The Times states, Defra initially rejected this analysis. In fact, they told the Direct Marketing Association that its interpretation of what had been agreed was very misleading and they suggested that the junk mail lobby group would issue a short & sweet press statement to tell the world why the website hadn't been launched yet:

We are committed to delivering this website and we will do so shortly.

After that things went quiet. Defra gave in to the industry's demands and rejected further requests for information – until they recently admitted that the scheme had been quietly dropped some time last year.

I guess both the Direct Marketing Association and Defra are to blame. The junk mail lobby sabotaged the agreement and Defra was to weak to stand up to them. It's how self-regulation works, unfortunately.

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30th June 2015

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