Consumer Focus has set up a website to help people reduce junk mail and cold calling. Via stayprivate.org people can register with the Mailing Preference Service and Telephone Preference Service in one go.
The concept of 'Stay Private' is based on Stop Junk Mail's Junk Buster website; via a single web form people can contact various opt-out services in one go. However, there are important differences. Whereas Junk Buster allows householders to contact up to six opt-out schemes for junk mail and paper directories, stayprivate.org caters for the most popular opt-out services run by the Direct Marketing Association: the Mailing Preference Service and the Telephone Preference Service. A third opt-out scheme people can register with via Stay Private is the Baby Mailing Preference Service.
Interestingly, Consumer Focus has managed to get permission from the Direct Marketing Association to act as a third party. When Stop Junk Mail first launched Junk Buster in March 2009 it was met with hostility by the representative of the junk mail industry. It refused to co-operate with the service, stating that "as a rule, the Mailing Preference Service does not accept third party registrations." It seems that the Direct Marketing Association has now given in to the criticism that opting out could and should be as easy as opting in. It has done so reluctantly - as yet neither the Direct Marketing Association website nor the Mailing Preference Service website mention that people can quickly and easily register with up to three opt-out services run by the organisation via Stay Private, but it is nevertheless a significant step.
In a press release the Head of Consumer Focus Labs, Joe Cicero, explained why the organisation felt it needed to do something to make opting out simpler and quicker: "At the moment people have to sign up for each service separately, providing the same substantial amount of information each time. The process is tedious and could discourage consumers from signing up. Furthermore, users are expected to re-submit their details again for address changes and when a registration expires. Our new site offers a single online form and the option of a user account which means customers only have to give information once and can easily make changes - saving consumers time and effort."
The various preference services provided by Direct Marketing Association are an important resource for consumers. But to work properly they must be better known, easier to use and more effective. StayPrivate.org helps consumers take more control over their own doorstep, letterbox and phone."