I was on You and Yours this afternoon to talk about the Door-Drop Preference Service…
The clip includes an interesting comment from the guy from the Direct Marketing Association; they claim to be unaware that the scheme has been abandoned. Last week, they told Marketing Week the same:
Confusingly, the DMA and Royal Mail have suggested the scheme is still going ahead. A spokesman for the DMA told Marketing: "In response to allegations in The Times, the DMA has confirmed that Defra has not communicated to the DMA any intention to halt the development of the door drop preference service. As a result, the DMA, together with partners such as Royal Mail, will continue to work with Defra to implement the scheme to cut waste."
A spokeswoman for the Royal Mail added: "We were not advised of Defra's intention to end the development of the door drop preference service. "Royal Mail continues to support an effective scheme which would reduce advertising waste of all forms."
That's confusing indeed, as Defra told me in March that the Door-Drop Preference is dead. To quote from Defra's response to my Freedom of Information request:
[…] the DMA consider that the launch of their single consumer opt-out website would have negligible effect and negatively impact DMA members. Therefore, the DMA have decided not to take this aspect of the voluntary agreement forward at the current time.
Defra have sought to reach agreement with the DMA to launch the single consumer opt-out website […] on a number of occasions, however they maintain that the launch of their single consumer opt-out website would have negligible effect without commitment from other paper sectors. As this is a voluntary agreement, Defra cannot take this work any further.
Whilst a new single consumer opt-out website is no longer being taken forward, the separate opt-out systems that are operated by the DMA and the Royal Mail will continue.
Defra's letter isn't particularly ambiguous; it clearly states that the DMA has refused to launch the opt-out website because it's worried that the scheme will
negatively impact its members and that Defra has now given up on trying to resolve the impasse. Yet, the statement is completely at odds with what the DMA – and apparently also the Royal Mail – are saying.
Needless to say I've asked Defra to clarify if the statements from the DMA and Royal Mail are correct and, if so, if they really decided to no longer take forward the work that was being done on the Door-Drop Preference Service without telling both parties. I sent my question to them on 2nd July but – surprise, surprise – I haven't yet received a response. Sadly, that's how they work. Defra's PR-team will have recommended that the best way of dealing with this embarrassment is to ignore it and hope that it will go away. That's why, of course, they also refused to defend their record on today's You and Yours.