Remember Virgin Media's infamous 'To the Occupier' letters? I'm not talking about the unaddressed variety (which you can stop by signing up to Royal Mail's opt-out scheme for unaddressed mail) but about those adverts sent 'To the Occupier' at your address. It's one of the few types of junk mail that's pretty much unstoppable.
That is, until now.
A while ago I contacted Virgin Media's Brand Response Manager. I explained that lots of people were telling me they were fed up with Virgin Media's continuous junk mail bombardment and that their letters addressed 'To the Occupier' were particularly offensive. Neither the Mailing Preference Service nor data protection notices can stop such letters and people found that contacting Virgin was futile, leaving people with no option but to put up with the junk mail. To my surprise I got a very reasonable response. The issue was discussed with
the appropriate teams and a decision was made to keep an internal 'do not mail' list. Initially, people would need to write to Virgin's head office in Hook (via snail mail) but they were looking into making opting out easier.
Today, Virgin confirmed that it's now possible to opt out of addressed 'To the Occupier' letters by sending an e-mail to email@example.com. I'd suggest killing two birds with one stone by sending a data protection notice to stop all personally addressed adverts and to mention in the notice that you also wish to opt out of the addressed 'To the Occupier' letters. This blurb should do the trick:
[ Your full name ]
[ Your full address ]
[Today's date ]
Data Controller / Company Secretary
Virgin Media (via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Dear Sir or Madam,
Direct mail from Virgin Media
I, [ your full name ] of [ your full address ] require you to [ stop / not begin ] processing personal information relating to me for direct marketing as soon as possible and in any event within 28 days of the date of this e-mail.
If you do not normally handle these requests for your organisation, please pass this e-mail to your Data Protection Officer or the person who does.
Please note that if you do not comply with this notice, I can apply to the court for an order against you under Section 11 of the Data Protection Act.
I understand that Virgin Media also maintains a 'do not mail' list for addressed items with a generic addressee, such as 'To the Occupier' or 'The Householder'. Please could you add my address as shown above to your list with addresses that have opted out.
[ Your name ]
And there's more good news! Virgin also told me they're cutting back on the amount of unaddressed junk mail they send. I had actually noticed that already; it's been weeks since I last posted a Virgin Media adverts on my Royal Junk Mail blog. Hopefully, they'll instead improve their brand by supporting more festivals (or maybe local community groups).