Stopping the junk mail flood 2

It’s a month since I complained about advertising being inserted to my “no advertising material” mailbox. How that’s gone?

The good news is that immediately following PMP Distribution chastising their walker there was a significant drop in unaddressed advertising material, perhaps to only half what there was before. Good. But there’s still plenty of “bad corporate citizens” who I’ll now name, and a few businesses who failed to respond.

First, kudos to David Jones and their distributors PMP Distribution, and also to MiniMovers and Marrickville Metro (AMP Capital Shopping Centres), who responded promptly and dealt with the problem. Well done.

A slap on the wrist to Domino’s Pizza; Go Green Insulation; Kmart; and Raine & Horne Marrickville, all of whom didn’t even acknowledge my email enquiry. Pathetic.

An especially big slap to Kmart, since your website contact form sent me an email which said:

We value your feedback, and wish to advise that the matter you have raised has been referred to one of our Customer Relations Representatives who will be in contact with you in the near future.

I didn’t bother chasing Cavellis Woodfire Pizzeria, Cut & Save Tree Service, or Papaya Thai Eatery since they didn’t list email addresses.

Now, the new bad apples…

This month’s rude pricks are: Broadway Shopping Centre; De Sousa Real Estate (who also camouflaged their advertising to look like a hand-written note); Domino’s Pizza (again! twice!); Franklins & Family Supermarkets; Marrickville First National Real Estate; Mountain Designs; Prestige Cleaning Specialists; Raine & Horne Marrickville (again!); Ray White Newtown (another real estate agent!).

I’ll be in touch with all of these businesses to give them a chance to respond. And, since real estate agents feature so prominently in this list, I’ll be asking the REIA whether they consider this to be acceptable behaviour.

We also got a message from beyondblue, but since that’s not advertising but a public health message about depression I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. Keep up the good work.

24 Replies to “Stopping the junk mail flood 2”

  1. we have a no junk mail sticker on ours and still get real estate dropped bits of paper…

    “dear house holder.. we just sold a house in your street” crap.

    just cause our house has a tidy front lawn, doesn’t mean we are a home owner!

    the most recent was Monday from Buxton Real estate.

    yes name and shame.

  2. Brilliant. I’ve been meaning to do something like this for ages. Also a Marrickville resident with like THREE No Junk Mail stickers on the mailbox. Real Estate agents are the worst culprits but all sorts of shit ends up in there.

    Will be keeping all junk and posting all businesses regularly from now on, as well as contacting them to the best of my ability.

  3. If you’re still getting glossy junk mail, you might also be in a Salmat delivery area (PMP and Salmat are by far the two biggest players in the market). If you complain to Salmat and it delivers in your region, its response will be similar to PMP.

    Real Estate agents tend to be a law unto themselves and will probably try and tell you they are conducting a community service. They’re independent and therefore don’t play by the same rules that PMP and Salmat do.

    beyondblue was probably delivered by Australia Post who also deliver junk mail on a commercial basis (we got one in our mail the other day), although chances are the beyondblue delivery falls well inside the “allowed” community service/announcement (AP also in theory agree to abide by the same rules as PMP and Salmat regarding not delivering to “No Junk Mail” letterboxes).

    Your local restaurant menus are probably also delivered by independents, hence they will do as they please as well.

    Legally, people can stuff things into your letterbox whether you want them to or not.

    Sorry to crap on a bit but I never thought I’d actually be able to use my knowledge about junk mail for anything useful 😀

  4. When I lived in Randwick ‘no junk mail’ was respected by everyone except real estate agents. The stickers seem to be respected in Ashfield too – since I don’t have one myself I don’t know if RE agents ignore them here too but I would bet on it.

  5. So far, two responses.

    Franklins‘ advertising manager says PMP distribute their catalogs, and has asked for the address. Now PMP reprimanded their walker on 12 August, yet this catalog was for their specials from 17 to 23 August. Did the walker fail to clean up their act? Did a new or different walker make the same mistake? We shall see!

    Meanwhile, Mountain Designs Sydney says:

    I have forwarded your complaint to our marketing department.

    I’m sorry for any inconvenience because of our mistake.

    Both are IMHO good examples of dealing with a complaint promptly. Well done.

  6. Remember the deliverers are 16 yr old kids who are paid piecemeal for the brochures they put in boxes, so they don’t care what stickers your letterbox carries. You could say “Only put mail in here if you’re walking on your hands” and your sticker would be just as effective. if they don’t put them in your box, they’ll dump them in a drain so they can still say they were delivered, and get paid.
    Awesome result.

  7. @Sal: I’m not sure I follow the thread of your logic. I shouldn’t complain about advertising distributors because they employ child labour? Being 16yo is an excuse for being unable to do their job?

    After all, the major distributors don’t want advertising delivered to where it’s unwanted, precisely because of the negative impact on their brand and their clients.

    Quite possibly there are lazy, incompetent or otherwise crappy walkers who don’t read the signs. But the point of the exercise here is to change that. Improve the world by doing something about it. Not just slothing back and accepting the crap.

  8. @Sal

    As of about 2 years ago (when I last liaised with the industry), walkers are paid based on the number of houses on their route and not per item delivered, precisely to combat the practice of dumping etc Theoretically, area supervisors are supposed to do spot check drive-bys of routes to ensure that the code of conduct re: delivery practices is being adhered to.

    Also, many of the walkers are also firmly in the stay-at-home mum, retiree and shift workers looking for extra cash categories. Personally, I haven’t seen someone who wasn’t a full-grown adult deliver junk mail in years, and before that it was kids who were being helped out by Mum and Dad.

    Anyway, Stil’s right in that it is no excuse for poor service anyway. After all, those same teenagers have no problems getting my pizzas made and delivered on time (most drivers earn on a per-delivery basis, too).

    Possibly same walker, possibly new walker. If it’s the same walker and it’s their second or third strike, they may well be looking for a new casual job soon. It used to be two strikes and your out but that may have softened since I last looked. I understand that PMP and Salmat orginally wanted it to be just one strike but were convinced that legally and from a community relations point of view this might prove to be unworkable in practice.

  9. Update: Mountain Designs have followed through and, as it happens, they also use PMP Distribution. See a pattern, anyone? PMP has been in touch, and I must say they continue to be very polite and efficient at handling the complaint. I’m impressed.

    Broadway Shopping Centre has been in touch this morning to get our exact address. I wonder if they, too, use PMP?

    Naturally, none of the real estate agents have even responded. The REIA has yet to respond to my email.

    @Shane: Your in-depth knowledge of this industry continues to astound me. My completely unscientific observations suggest that the walkers in this area appear to be of three main types:

    • Fully adult walkers who are clearly delivering several leaflets on behalf of the large distribution firms.
    • Walkers of various ages, including youths, who are delivering leaflets for takeaway food delivery — presumably their direct employers.
    • Dark-suited real estate agents who also seem to be scouting the street for indications of the area’s real estate value.

    I have not counted in my gripes the deliveries on behalf of our local Member of Parliament (since that’s democracy in action) nor Sydney Buses’ request for comments on proposed timetable and route changes (since that’s government in action).

  10. We have a no-junk-mail sticker because I hate junk mail. But I like getting takeaway menus from local restaurants. The problem is, the good restaurants respect the sticker and don’t put their menus in. But then I feel like I shouldn’t give my business to the bad restaurants who ignore the sticker. Life’s tough sometimes.

  11. @Stil – it’s amazing what one learns while in service to the public (especially when it comes to implementing three year old off-the-cuff election commitments where a promise was made to fix something that no one was aware needed fixing in the first place). I was in regular contact with the DSB for a period of close to 6 months, read many pieces of industry-commissioned and independent research and came away with more knowledge than I could ever reasonably expect to use (until now!) on the junk mail industry.

    As an aside, the industry firmly believes that most people want junk mail and anecdotally they are right. Many people like getting the weekly Woolies brochure to see what’s on sale next week, or the latest Harvey Norman catalogue for bargains on LCD TVs, or the new Target brochure so they know when to stock up on cheap socks and knickers. PMP and Salmat often claim that their clients get more complaints when the expected junk mail doesn’t arrive which is often a sign that a walker needs closer inspection. Undelivered or unwanted junk mail is not part of their business plan as it alienates potential customers who harrass their clients who in turn start to question why they are paying PMP and Salmat all this money in the first place. In a manner of speaking.

    As another aside, they prefer it to be called “unaddressed advertising material” (although in the immortal words of Dr Hibberd “…and hillbillies prefer to be called ‘sons of the soil’ but it ain’t gonna happen”)

    Anyway, as I’ve mentioned, Real Estate agents aren’t members of the DSB and therefore will continue to put whatever crap they feel like in your letter box. Ditto for the local takeaway. Missives from your local MP will continue because politicians have always excluded themselves from delivery codes of conduct on the grounds that they are providing a community service (normally people don’t mind but the issue rears its head at every election as the deliveries go into overdrive). Same will go for Sydney Buses.

    The community service provision in the code is designed to allow people to deliver things like Neighbourhood Watch newsletters, support the work of local charities and, of course, our elected representatives.

    Right. I’ve crapped on too much again. I haven’t dealt with this issue since April 2007 so I’m not quite sure why I can remember all of this now but I wouldn’t be able to tell you what I ate for dinner three nights ago.

  12. btw, is there a reason that the “subscribe to comments” feature doesn’t work as expected? I have ticked the box for two posts and have yet to receive a single email notification that a comment has been added (and yes, I have checked my spam folder).

  13. @vealmince: This is exactly the problem. Menus from new restaurants would perhaps be welcome. 24-page large-format catalogs for stores I’ll never visit are not. Real estate agents, of course, deserve their own special layer in hell.

    @Shane: I do recall someone telling me that for poorer or housebound people, the catalogs and the free local newspapers are an important part of staying in touch with their community. I wouldn’t want to deny them that. It’s their choice.

    The Universe is indeed screwing with you. Specifically. And personally.

  14. I have a policy that if someone disrespects me enough to put junk mail into my (clearly “no junk mail” marked) mailbox, I will not use their service.

    The problem with all this is that a new restaurant opened recently in my area, and they junk mailed me. Now I can’t go there — and I really wanted to — but I won’t, because that would make me a hypocrite.

    I am also considering making an add-on to the No Junk Mail sign that states: “This includes:” and then lists the non-compliant businesses. I hope that the shock of a deliverer seeing the name of the company they are delivering for listed would be a discouragement — but it probably wouldn’t.

  15. @Crashinoz: That’s the thing, eh? The sticker is an all-or-nothing thing, and yet our preferences are more fine-grained than that. Knowing about new restaurants is good. Knowing who the local plumber is when moving into a new house is good. endless expensive colour catalogs from shops I’ll never visit is a disgusting waste. Sigh.

    Your comment also reminds me, indirectly, that I need to do an update post. I’ll try to get that done before the weekend.

  16. The realtor who sold the apartment my wife & I bought was McGrath and, from the month after we moved in they have continually mailed advertising flyers to us. No matter how many times we tell them that we’re not interested, they persist. The mail originally arrived addressed to us personally, with a return address. We returned it marked gone away.

    Now they send the mail WITHOUT a return address and in an unmarked envelope!

    To me, this is more infuriating than the ‘junk mail’ deliveries, although I’m dealing with those by returning them to the advertisers.

  17. @Wubble-U: Perhaps the answer is to send similarly unmarked letters back to them, with increasingly strong messages about how you are unimpressed.

    Hmmm… This also reminds me that I haven’t followed up on this saga for ages. There has been a reduction in advertising material now that the Big Two distributors have been warned. However by far the biggest offenders continue to be real estate agents. And the Real Estate Institute of Australia has now failed to reply to two emails to their media enquiries address.

  18. I think the sticker saying “No Junk Mail” can be interpreted by many by them believing that their literature isn’t “junk”

    I believe a “No Advertising Material” is more appropriate, and encompasses most non-postal items in general.

    Even better, I have seen “Australia Post Mail Only” stickers which is clear and precise.

    Better still, remove your mailbox all together, and have a redirection on all mail to your address set up to a Post Box – I have personally done this in the past due to by mailbox being less than secure, and my suspicions of some mail going missing.

    Back when I was a kid, we had a notice on our letterbox at home asking for no junk mail, and I remember my Mother diligently putting each article of junk mail into an unstamped envelope addressed to the company in question with a note inside telling them to stop it (with our address on it), and posting them back. I’m sure it cost her a sheer fortune in envelopes over the years, but it was effective to some extent.

  19. I feel I should make a few comments from the point of view of someone that delivers junkmail.

    Firstly, I agree with most of the comments that have already been made here. There are definitely a lot of deliverers that couldn’t give a toss. The mob that used to do the KMart catalogues in our area actually used to advertise the fact that their deliverers used postie bikes, despite the fact that it’s illegal to ride a motorbike on the footpath in QLD, unless you’re a postie on duty. They actually stopped doing it a couple of months ago, so I assume someone got busted by the cops. We used to get a lot of their stuff just thrown in the yard, which, as someone else commented is illegal, it’s littering.

    When I started delivering earlier this year I was given a copy of the code of practice that we’re expected to follow. As you’d expect it includes not delivering to households with “no junk mail” or equivalents on the letterbox and I stick to it. That said, we occasionally get political stuff that we’re supposed to put in all letterboxes. I refuse to do that since as far as I’m concerned it’s still junk mail.

    As far as delivering to letterboxes with “no junk mail’ stickers. I get really pissed off when I walk up to a letterbox in an area I haven’t done before, I’m just about to stick a bundle in the box and I realise they’ve put a sticker inside the bit where the junk mail goes, where I can’t see it until I get right up to the box. If the postie has put a big delivery in that part of the letterbox, the sticker is then covered up. This is nearly always on big letterboxes that have plenty of room on the front for a sticker.

    As far as punishing the advertisers, I think that’s a bit unfair in most cases as it’s the contractor that’s at fault not the company that’s paying them in good faith to do the right thing. That’s probably why KMart changed over to Salmat for their deliveries. If you ring up the company in question and complain a lot of them will follow up by complaining to the distributor in question. I know Coles do because my wife who works for Coles has passed on a few complaints about junk mail, including complaints from people about not getting deliveries. Yes, some people do complain about not getting it.

    Just to finish off, our weekend delivery arrived today with a note regarding delivering to no junk mail letterboxes. It seems there’s been a lot more complaints recently about that very problem and they seem to think it’s because a lot of new people have started in the lead up to Christmas. I think there’s a very good reason for new people starting. When I first started, I considered it as being paid to exercise. After a while you realise that you spend more time folding the stuff than you do out delivering it. Then when you start to look at how much they’re paying you, you realise thay they’re paying you to deliver to less houses than you actually do. So after a year you get pissed off and decide a nice walk down the beach is better exercise than delivering junk mail for someone that’s ripping you off. So every few months you end up with a new person delivering your junk mail.

    I’ll be stopping in February when the final year of my science degree starts. I’m not illiterate and I’m not young (almost 45) as someone suggested, but I do have a bit of a problem with some junk mail deliverers just like the rest of you.

  20. @Brent: Interesting theory about the effective of different wording choices. However if people are going to ignore the recipients’ wishes then they’ll self-justify their actions no matter what it says.

    It’s a bit like some drivers and road signs like “No Right Turn”. Complain to them and you’ll get a stream of excuses about how they know what the sign says but, oh, it’s “inconvenient” or “So you never break the rules?” or anything but admit they’ve done something wrong.

    Or you get punched.

    @Steve: Thank you for your insights there. I’ve seen the walkers’ jobs advertised as “get paid to exercise” or equivalent and thought that a bit rich.

    I’ve chatted about the Code during some of my conversations with the larger stores etc who’d been in touch — and yes, there’s exemptions for political material and purely informational material from local government and the like.

    Similar exemptions exist in the Spam Act 2003 for political and religious material, and material from registered non-profit organisations.

Comments are closed.