Stopping the junk mail flood

Photograph of our broken brick fence and letterbox

OK, some time on the weekend someone broke the brick wall which supports our letterbox. It wasn’t us. But given the poor behaviour of the junk mail merchants, who could blame us?

Despite the presence of a “No Junk Mail” sticker and the more recent addition of Marrickville council’s own “No Advertising Material” sticker, advertisers continue to shove their things into our box. So I’ve decided to name and shame.

This week’s advertisers who failed to follow this basic piece of etiquette are: Cavellis Woodfire Pizzeria; Cut & Save Tree Service; David Jones; Domino’s Pizza; Go Green Insulation; Kmart; MiniMovers; Papaya Thai Eatery; Raine & Horne Marrickville.

Now I do know that in Australia these stickers have no legal force — unlike online, where the Spam Act 2003 provides stricter rules. But if someone communicates a polite request not to receive a catalog, and the first thing you do is give them the catalog anyway… well, is that really a good marketing message?

I’ve also noticed over time that real estate agents are particularly prominent in our junk mail. What is it about these overpaid pricks?

I’ll be inviting each of these advertisers to respond.

[Update 9.15am: Missed one: Marrickville Metro (AMP Capital Shopping Centres). They’re another company that’s big enough to know better.]

33 Replies to “Stopping the junk mail flood”

  1. I use them to line my budgie cage. If I had a hundred cages, I could put almost the junk mail to good use…

  2. @Sean the Blogonaut: Of course online they could do all that targeting stuff — rather than the rather weak logic of “You live in a house, therefore you might be a customer”.

    @Sylvano: The whole world is my budgie cage.

    @David Jones: Now about your Privacy and Security page… Please don’t be such hypocritical bastards as to say “your privacy is our priority” and then go on to say that you “may use your personal information to (a) send you direct marketing material by email or post; and (b) compile a consumer profile”.

    If I’ve given you my name, address and email address to check out this problem with catalog delivery, that’s all you can use it for, OK?

    Linking your feedback form to a page of fine print which starts off with that corporate bullshit reassurance means nothing unless you actually act as if you respect my privacy. And the rest of that page specifies all the things you do which prove that, well, you won’t respect my privacy, will you?

  3. And be sure to point out you will NEVER use the services of any advertiser who ignores your clearly-stated preference.

    I’m also planning to get Marrickville Council onto the arseholes who seem to be delivering catalogues (Aldi and K-Mart , I’m looking at you!) by throwing them from a car, so most of them end up on the footpath. That’s littering, so within the council’s domain.

  4. @Simon Rumble : Maybe we can get the Marrickville Council to follow the example of Ipswich in Queensland, who declared their dissatisfaction by labelling this stuff “legal littering”. And your other suggestion is right, yes, so…

    NOTE TO NAMED ADVERTISERS: Failing to follow the clearly-stated preferences of me and other residents marks you as a bad corporate citizen. I will therefore avoid using your services wherever possible, and encourage my friends and business colleagues to do the same.

  5. Like yer work.

    I have often thought of mounting a clear plastic bin next to my letterbox to show the evil accumulated waste this thoughtless marketing produces. Would be interesting see what would happen if we all collected and returned our junk-mail to the distribution networks or other sources while naming and shaming the companies that buy this crappy ‘service’.

    p.s. My letterbox has suffered a lot in its lifetime:


  6. I used to do junk mail delivery for a while in Canberra. Strict policy as relayed by my pimp dispatcher was that “No Junk Mail” signs must be respected. The dispatchers have a complete list of their working girls deliverers, and know exactly which address is serviced served by each one, so the steps I would take are:

    • Contact each advertiser and ask them which company handles their distribution.
    • Contact the distributors (it’ll generally only be one or two for an entire area) and give them your address and the details of your complaint.
    • Wait.
    • In theory, the flood of junk will stop after the deliverer has their knuckles rapped and their obligations re-explained.
    • OhBTW: your preview allows a more liberal selection of HTML than your comment display does. I used <ol> and <li> and it got stripped out on submission. D’oh.

    • Thank you for bringing it to our attention. We definitely do not want the delivery of our material to be placed in boxes that have these signs. If you still have a copy, would you be able to scan it and email/upload it for us to view so we can investigate and follow up with our distribution centre?

    • Try not to take it out on the businesses themselves, most companies will use contractors who are paid for each catalogue they deliver. So really, there’s little incentive for these people who probably don’t really have much money as it is to pay attention to “No Junk Mail” stickers.

      Eric did mention the person for whom he delivered catalogues did adhere to No Junk Mail stickers, I’m sure there are plenty of operators who don’t.

      I guess it’s good to make these companies aware that the people they are paying to deliver their material are not doing an appropriate job.

      I, for one, however, like getting my weekly catalogues.

    • Ah. One positive thing about Europe then. Those “no advertisements” stickers actually have legal force behind them over here. You even get to choose if you still want the (free) local newspaper.

      It’s well worth lobbying for. I was carrying out an extra bag of trash every week with the stuff and it weighs a ton.

      Not much about our stickers in English, just a couple of ex-pats wondering how it all works:

    • @Bryce: If the deliverers are paid per-delivery rather than per-home, even if the home declines the delivery, then there’s something wrong with the system. But noticing the “no advertising material” sticker is really the only skill involved in the job — apart from perhaps walking — so I don’t have any sympathy for anyone who can’t even get that bit right.

      You like the catalogs. I don’t. And the whole point is about choice. 🙂

      As it happens, I’ve had two other businesses respond to my emails, and those emails have been good responses: an apology, followed by a clear statement that they’ll remind their deliverers of their responsibility not to annoy people. This is good — and responding same-day is impressive, actually. I’m currently seeking permission to publish those responses.

      I accept that the retailer relies on their distributor to behave properly — but then they’re still paying the bills and choose how they’re represented.

      One business, however, has asked me to remove their name from my website. As regular readers will know, editing reality to conform with a PR message isn’t likely to curry much favour with me.

      @Woolly Mittens: Yet another fact which tempts me to move to the Netherlands…

      1. so I don’t have any sympathy for anyone who can’t even get that bit right.

        Me neither. Unfortunately, the majority of people who deliver catalogues probably couldn’t care less. We (as in the supermarket I work for) had an issue where one of our deliverers was simply tossing the catalogues in the garbage and collecting their payments. Needless to say, they no longer deliver our catalogues.

        I only like the catalogues because for this supermarket’s employees, theres a chance to win a $20 gift card each week by responding to a survey asking if they got their catalogue or not.

    • The direct mail that I receive goes straight from the lockable post box into the bin nearby.

      I often wish that the marketing directors for this companies could be there to witness this process / protest, perhaps then they’d think about putting more thought and effort into targeted, contextual and engaging marketing strategies.

    • It’s been over 10 years since I visited the offices of ADMA who were quite keen to discuss these issues with me and which I believe I summarised for the ACS ELSIC list with regards to spam.

      Australian Direct Marketing Association

      From what I recall (and it was a long time ago) the ADMA were concerned about media advertising regarding the delivery of “junk” mail to letter boxes.

      As I used to work for a Direct Marketing Company (Reader’s Digest) I became aware of ADMA during my years working with them.

      Pay them a visit. I did ! 🙂

      BTW: I still get junk mail in my letter box. Sometimes “No junk mail” stickers are removed. In the case of piles of “junk” leaflets I was informed by a delivery person a few weeks ago that disposing of these in the garbage bin could be considered an offence of “littering” and that just a short while ago a person near my Townhouse complex had been fined $750 and that it was of concern to her given that people from the companies “follow up” on junk mail deliveries to determine if a junk mail deliverer is doing their job. If they aren’t they aren’t paid !


      1. I only have one comment to make re:
        “that people from the companies “follow up” on junk mail deliveries to determine if a junk mail deliverer is doing their job”

        Pay junk mail deliverers peanuts and you get illiterate monkeys.
        Pay big bananas and you only get smug bigger monkeys.

        I have had an ongoing dispute for over 20 years with the two “free newspapers” in Newcastle and still get the same P(er) R(ectum) garbage from the companies each I complain. The local council is pretty quick of the mark to fine them for littering when the delivers get lazy and drop their papers in the street. Naturally it takes a complaint to council to get some action but it’s worth the effort.
        At $600 a pop you would think that they would learn.

    • @Daniel and @Bob Bain: The thing is, though, this isn’t “direct marketing”. By definition, that’s addressed to you by name. The ADMA runs a Do Not Mail register and, if you put yourself on the list, their members are obliged not to mail you.

      What we’re talking about here is unaddressed advertising material: catalogs and flyers delivered by contractors like PMP Limited‘s people, who walk the street. It’s usually sold as an add-on service to the printing itself.

    • The ADMA regarded leaflets delivered to your door 10 years ago as “direct advertising”. A lot of “junk” email goes through companies such as PMP and indeed Salmat who I contracted for a few years ago..


      Salmat do work for government agencies, banks and direct marketers similar to Reader’s Digest. They also maintain databases for such companies. A lot of data sits on computers off site. Is there a conflict ? This was a question I asked a few years back. Security is tight.


    • I’m reckon you live right near me. I’ve received crap from pretty much every single one of the organisations you listed there. In fact, I had the unique opportunity to stand by as someone put a “Raine & Horne Marrickville” leaflet in my letterbox clearly marked No Junk Mail last week. I immediately took it out and put it in the recycling bin as the deliverer walked to the next house.

      Hate hate hate.

    • we have a ‘no junk mail’ sign at our abode in Enmore, yet everyday our mailbox is rammed full of flyers, menus, advertisements and catalogues – i even seem to recall in the lead up to the last local election finding various political propaganda flyers from all the major parties (including the Greens).

    • @Bob Bain: Interesting that ADMA considered the unaddressed material to be in their realm too. Thanks for that.

      @Cam: Welcome to Enmore. Or nearby.

      @josh909: While the “no advertising material” stickers have no legal force anyway, in other areas such as addressed mail and email, political and religious material is exempt. “Advertising” is used in is more strict sense of something promoting a commercial business.

    • @Baden Smith: I like some aspects of European law generally, far more oriented to human needs than corporations. The Netherlands specifically because there’s plenty of interesting work happening there in “Internet stuff”.

    • PMP Distribution, who deliver the leaflets for Marrickville Metro (AMP Capital Shopping Centres) have reported the action they’ve taken:

      Walker reprimanded and performance will be monitored more closely. Issue will be rectified immediatley [sic].

      From the documentation, it’s clear that their processes allow them to track a specific leaflet drop at a specific address to the individual responsible. And they take these complaints seriously. I guess they have to, otherwise they’d lose clients.

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