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Royal Mail junk mail opt-out has changed

9th December 2015

Royal Mail has made a bunch of changes to its opt-out scheme for unaddressed mail, the so-called Door-to-Door Opt-Out.

The opt-out form can now be downloaded

You no longer have to contact Royal Mail to get an opt-out form. Instead, you can now download the form from its website:

The form is now also available in Welsh. I love the Welsh language. Instead of "opt-out form" they say "ffurflen dewis peidio". Doesn't that sound brilliant?

New freepost address

You still need to send Royal Mail a paper opt-out form (who would want to opt out online in 2015?) but the freepost address is now a lot shorter: Freepost Royal Mail Customer Services.

New e-mail address for queries

The team that administers the opt-out scheme now has shorter e-mail address: You can use this e-mail address for queries about the opt-out scheme and/or to ask them to send you an opt-out form in the post (if you don't have a printer).

New telephone number

And finally, the team that administers the opt-out scheme also has a new phone number: 0345 266 0858.

What does this all mean, in a historical context?

I know you're dying to know what this all means in a historic context.

For the most part the changes are purely practical. The opt-out admins have been swallowed up by the customer service people. Nothing shocking there. Managers like to regularly reorganise things (and then update their Linked In page).

What is interesting is that you can now download the opt-out form. Until some time in 2011 the only (official) way to get hold of the form was by writing to Royal Mail. They then started using the e-mail address to send the opt-out form attached (as a PDF) to an auto-reply message. You can still get the form by sending an e-mail to this address but doing so has become rather pointless; it's quicker and easier to grab the form from the Royal Mail website.

What we're witnessing then, dear reader, is nothing less than a move towards a straightforward opt-out process! In another four years time Royal Mail might trust its customers enough to allow them to opt out online. You known, in the same way you've been able to register with the Mailing Preference Service for over a decade.

But what about the need to verify stuff?

As said, until a couple of years ago Royal Mail insisted that you first had to write to them to request an opt-out form. Officially, this was for security reasons – to verify that those resident at the address have requested the 'opt out' [sic]. In other words, Royal Mail would receive your request; add your details to a database; pop a form in the post; and then wait for a completed and signed form to be returned. I'm not sure if Royal Mail ever intended to follow this procedure – I suspect they were just trying to discourage households interested in opting out. What I do know is that Royal Mail never followed this hopelessly bureaucratic procedure. When they received a request for an opt-out form they simply used to pop a form in the post, and when they received a completed and signed form they would simply mark the address as opted out. At no point has Royal Mail ever verified that the residents at the address listed on a form had actually asked to be opted out.

In case that went straight over your head, the bottom line is this: Royal Mail's claim that it verifies that opt-out requests are genuine is a lie. They not verifying anything.

When Royal Mail started sending the opt-out form attached to a standard auto-reply e-mail the nonsense about having to verify that opt-out requests are genuine was effectively dead. I mean, there's nothing to stop you from printing dozens of copies of the form to register random households. Even if Royal Mail wanted to verify such opt-out requests – which they don't – the company wouldn't be able to do so. How would Royal Mail check that an e-mail address used to request a form belongs to a physical address? Weirdly, though, the blurb about verifying opt-out requests has never been removed from the Royal Mail website. It's still there, on the same page from where you can now download the opt-out form.

In June, I asked Royal Mail about this and got the following response:

When we receive a telephone call from a resident who wishes to be Opted Out [sic] we send out the Letter [sic] and form and request that the form be signed and returned, in order to verify that this particular resident wishes to be opted out. If someone makes a request via email, we do not simply take the email as the request but still send out the letter and form so that we are still able to verify that the person actually wants to be opted out.

The answer avoids the question. Sixteen e-mails later Royal Mail has noted my feedback and passed this to the relevant department for future consideration. In other words, they don't want to discuss their lie about verifying opt-out requests.

Do I care?

Yes, you do! Royal Mail's drivel about security gives its outdated / discouraging opt-out procedure some legitimacy. Effectively, they're saying that an opt-out website such as the Mailing Preference Service isn't really secure – or at least not as secure as Royal Mail's superior opt-out service. The Mailing Preference Service requires people to click on a confirmation link in an e-mail; Royal Mail is claiming that they actually verify that the people living at an address have asked to be opted out. Acknowledging that they've never done this would not only be embarrassing, it would also expose the Door-to-Door Opt-Out for what it is: a hopelessly bureaucratic, outdated service. It would pave the way for a simple online opt-out form (which might encourage people to opt out).

Last updated: 
9th December 2015


I wonder, does RM want us to print a PDF and send it via their own system a way to swindle yet more cash from those who wish to opt out (read complain). They are holding out for the online version as long as possible, because every opt-out is less profits for RM...

Just my opinion of course, but then recent communications with RM has only made my opinion stronger.

They are holding out for the online version as long as possible, because every opt-out is less profits for RM…

That's at the heart of the issue, although you won't hear Royal Mail say anything along those lines. The company's official line is that they want people who aren't interested in unsolicited, unaddressed mail to opt out (from both an economic and environmental perspective it doesn't make sense to deliver adverts to people who are going to be offended by such literature).

In practice Royal Mail is trying to discourage people from opting out. If they were serious about reducing waste and improving the targeting of leaflets they would be working with other distributors and the Direct Marketing Association to introduce a single opt-out regime for all unaddressed mail (and perhaps they'd even welcome suggestions from the public!). Instead, we're having a private company running a private opt-out scheme, alongside two other opt-out regimes for unaddressed mail (the Your Choice Preference Service and anti-junk mail signs). It's all about making stopping junk mail ineffective and difficult to understand, in the hope that people will just shut up and put up with rubbish being pushed through the door.

My postman knocked the door to confirm the form had come from the address.

Oh, hang on, no they didn't.

Royal Mail's opt-out didn't work for me after they confirmed to me this address was opted out. Five times junk mail arrived before enough complaining and escalating wasted so much of their time that they decided the money from the ads wasn't worth running the opt-out as anything more than a PR scam or public image manipulation thing. After lots of denial from RM and claims the spam I was complaining about might not have been from them, and abuses of my personal data by promoting the services of other companies (playing the usual advertiser card of hiding behind "we were only being useful" (AKA the ace of BS)) they did acknowledge that they had failed. Though RM consistently held the postal staff on the street responsible, like it is those staff that make policy and create unwanted services like spamming for businesses. I wonder if the postal union knows management put the public-facing staff in such poor light as a matter of routine?

IMHO the idea behind never stopping spamming is to never ever let us step away from mindless consumerism. Spending for spending's sake. And making sure corporate half-truths and lies are in our faces is essential, and if not overt ads then just brands and logos and colours. And all the things psychologists say about the human mind that be skewed to manipulate our opinions.

One thing though, because RM provides a freepost address for their junk opt-out I use it send on any junk that comes though the door. Menus, phonebooks, god stuff. All as unwanted as what RM dump, but as RM use their wealth and position to force their opinion on the public I will directly abuse their provision of a freepost address. I recommend others do this, no matter the overall effects it will make their scheme cost in the short term. And threatened profits in the next Q make CEOs cry.

Freepost Royal Mail Customer Services

I've been running this website for nearly a decade and I've reluctantly come to the conclusion that returning junk mail to senders / offenders is the only way to get the likes of Royal Mail to acknowledge that there should be a little bit of a balance between the rights of advertisers and the rights of the industry's 'targets' (or, worse, 'consumers').

Perhaps a more effective way to return junk mail is by returning it to the senders (in an unstamped envelope). Advertisers worry about their 'brand' being association with junk mail. A couple of months ago Virgin Media – Royal Mail's biggest customer – took the decision to stop its door-drop campaigns for precisely this reason. Sending stuff back to Royal Mail is fine, of course, but the senders will be unaware that their adverts were delivered to people who have gone through the trouble of opting out of receiving such stuff.

As an aside, I'm hoping to start working on a return to sender website early next year.

One thing though, because RM provides a freepost address for their junk opt-out I use it send on any junk that comes though the door. Menus, phonebooks, god stuff. All as unwanted as what RM dump, but as RM use their wealth and position to force their opinion on the public I will directly abuse their provision of a freepost address. I recommend others do this, no matter the overall effects it will make their scheme cost in the short term and threatened profits in the next Q make CEOs cry.

You could really annoy them by attaching each one to any other bits of stuff you want to get rid of. Small parcels up to 2Kg should be okay to go in the postbox to their freepost addres.

When a household opts out of door-to-door deliveries a card is placed on the delivery stand. The card is kept in a pile with all the redirected mail (householders that have moved to another address). It is the postman who is ultimately responsible for checking the cards every time a leaflet drop comes in. Unfortunately if your postman can't be bothered to check the relevant card in the pile, bingo... another delivery. Also your opt-out only lasts 2 years!

In this day and age of "brain-washing" by advertisement, it does appear that Royal Mail Marketing Executives (most of whom will be of such an age that they themselves will have been subjected to this process from birth) have forgotten or conveniently overlooked the fact that there are things called CUSTOMERS, and that THEY PAY THE WAGES OF ROYAL MAIL EMPLOYEES.

If a customer wishes to OPT OUT OF JUNK MAIL, surely it is for the CUSTOMER to determine how long they wish to opt out for. It is NOT for Royal Mail to dictate that a customer, who opts out, then has to go through the cumbersome and inefficient procedure every 2 years in order to stop the receipt of junk mail. FOR HOW LONG is Royal Mail going to perpetuate this junket?

I wonder how many of the senior gifted human beings on Royal Mail's marketing executive have opted out themselves? Would they dare to do it? Got to think of one's bonus for achieving target! Perhaps a full brain transplant for the CEO would not come amiss!!

I have tried to opt out many times; using the standard form, telephoning and by email. None of it works for long, because you have to rely on the discretion of the postmen and women daily. There is a large turnover of staff, which complicates things and the so-called system is chaotic! I am going to try yet again to get the tidal wave of junk stopped and if that doesn't work, I will have to return everything back to RM, as I'm sick of it all. When did a person's letter-box become a rubbish bin?

It would be so good if Royal Mail, on receipt of my opt-out form, could send an adhesive letterbox sticker complete with the Royal Mail Logo, saying that 'this property has registered with Royal Mail to opt out of receiving unaddressed junk mail'. The postman then cannot make a mistake!

Although I think this is a grand idea, the thought of having a sticker anywhere on our building is tacky to say the least. If the Posties were diligent they might read it, but my guess is that if they have carried the post thus far they will still want to be rid of it! It's like fast food, and all the rubbish sold in supermarkets, it is not for the benefit of the CUSTOMER, whose welfare seems to have gone out of the window to be replaced by greed and competition between the huge consorteums that invade our privacy at every opportunity and from every quarter.

I opted out, and it worked for a while, then stopped. I emailed them but no response.

I have just discovered, thanks to the useful info above, that it only lasts two years. I will send their unnecessary form in again. If it does not stop, I was considering putting all the unsolicited rubbish into a post box. But maybe sending it back to them Freepost, will be more effective.

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