Entries Tagged as 'Mail / Snail Mail / Postal Mail'

Double the losses — triple the bad service

I’m talking about the United States Postal Service — and I’m being kind on “triple the bad service”.

The Postal Service has reported net losses totaling $8.5 billion in the fiscal year ending 30 Sep 2010 — compared to a $3.8 billion loss the previous year.

The Postal Service blames the recession and the continuing growth of e-mail.

I would say the losses are more likely caused by an archaic “business” that if it weren’t for cellular carriers would have the absolute worst customer service known to mankind.

Maybe, just maybe if they increased the rate they charged for distributing all that junk mail that no one wanted; actually levied fines against companies that violated anti-pandering orders; and restructured to provide better service using fewer hands they could balance their budget.

After all, when the Postal Service looses money we don’t pass a bill like TARP to help them — we just write them a check.

Originally posted 2010-11-27 02:00:53.

Do Not Mail Initiatives

In the United States we have a “Do Not Call” list that’s moderately effective at reducing marketing calls for those of us who don’t want them (though politicians notably made an exception for themselves)… but we don’t have a “Do Not Mail” list… and we should.

Organizations like the Direct Marketing Association lobby congress heavily to keep their mail rates cheap and prevent any legislation from standing in the way of their members from killing millions of trees, littering our mail boxes with “junk mail”, and wasting energy to produce – distribute – collect – and hopefully recycle all that garbage.

For several years now legislation has been pending that would greatly limit direct mail marketing (in much the same way as telephone marketing) — write your representatives in Washington DC and tell them YOU want legislation that will give you control over your mail box.

NOTE:  In all fairness, the Direct Marketing Association does offer a “Mail Preference Service” to consumers, and does require that it’s members use those preferences when mailing materials.  However, they make it difficult for consumers to enter their addresses and there are questions as to how effect self regulation has been.

Originally posted 2008-11-01 12:00:03.

The Anti-Green – Postal Mail

Receiving postal mail, such as bills, statements, etc and making payments via paper check (either dropped off or mailed in) wastes an incredible amount of natural resources.

Like junk mail and advertisements you receive in the mail, your bills and statements require the use of paper and energy to produce them, energy to distribute them, and energy to properly dispose of and recycle them — plus your paper check payments require the same.

Electronic bills and statements provide you the same information in a form that is far more environmentally friendly.  The production and distribution of that information requires a fraction of the power sending out traditional paper would, and totally saves the paper.

Additionally, paying electronically further reduces the wasted paper and energy.

Most institutions offer statements and bills via electronic delivery at no cost, some even offer incentives such as statement credits or some type of bonus or reward for signing up for electronic statements; and you needed be afraid of electronic statements, you still have every protection that a paper statement would have offered to you.

As for electronic payments, there’s a number of ways in which you can do that…

You could authorize a company to automatically debit your account for the amount you owe.  There are there often used methods.  First, a company could issue an automatic draft against your checking account — that’s essentially like a paper check, though since Check21 it’s likely it would be transmitted electronically.  Second, a company could issue an ACH (Automated Clearing House) transaction against your checking (or savings) account — that’s presented to the bank generally though a purely electronic medium.  Third, a company could issue a charge against a major credit card account.

Personally, I’d be cautious about authorizing any institution to directly remove money from my checking (or savings) account; while there aren’t any real long term issues with them taking out too much, you might find that the time required to correct a mistake is quite long (and you don’t have use of the funds in question during the resolution period).  With credit cards, however, all the mechanism are in place to insure that if someone makes a mistake — you won’t be out the money (or charged any interest) while the error is being looked into and resolved.

Another (entirely different) way you could pay your bills electronically is by using a bill payment service.  Most financial institutions now offer free bill payment services and puts you totally in control.  You decide who to pay, when to pay them, and how much to pay them.  If the bank makes an error, they’re totally responsible for resolving it — and if they remove funds that you didn’t authorize, or in a way you didn’t authorize then they are responsible for the ramifications.  At worst this type of bill payment generates a paper check that’s sent out on your behalf; generally it’s totally electronic.

Another place to look for reductions in postal mail is to discourage companies to send you out anything by mail that can be delivered electronically (remember, in the United States, electronic signatures are legally recognized — faxes and physical signatures are no more binding that an “electronic” signature).  So the bottom line, companies that feel the need to interact with you in writing are simply showing you that they care little for the environment and do not wish to invest in the future.  My advice, look elsewhere and send them a clear message by terminating your relationships with them.

Finally, many people use postal mail to send pictures, greeting cards, personal letters, etc.  Sure, sometimes you’re going to have to — but have you ever considered that most people just throw those away, or put them in a shoe box at the bottom of the closet?  Consider sending what you can electronically — if they really want a picture printed, they can do that locally (for probably the same it would have cost you — and less than the postage you paid).

As I’ve said a number of times before… it doesn’t take much to make a huge difference.

Originally posted 2010-05-11 02:00:16.

The Anti-Green – Junk Mail

Why does the United States Postal Service encourage companies to send “Junk Mail” by substantially reducing the costs of distributing it?

It just doesn’t make sense.

Sure, I understand that it may actually cost the post office a little less to distribute junk mail than it does to distribute first class letters and such — but take a look at how little junk mail you even look at… and how much ends up in your recycle bin (and I’m not even going to bring up the large number of people who probably don’t recycle since they don’t have curb-side recycling programs).

America needs to take action to reduce it’s carbon footprint — and as I have pointed out for the last few days it would be extremely easy to make a fairly substantial improvement without sacrificing anything most consumers care about — and in fact, it would probably improve the quality of life for most Americans not having a mailbox full of junk mail they have to sort through so as not to miss something that might be important.

Sure, the post office would probably have to raise the cost of postage, and possibly reduce the service level (hey — I have no problem with mail not being delivered on Saturday — of maybe being delivered only on alternate days or only a few days per week).  The overall effect would be a decrease in the waste (of natural resources and energy).

Originally posted 2010-05-10 02:00:50.

US Postal Service

I just dropped off some US Postal Service Form PS-1500s at the post office down the street, and have to relay a “funny” (maybe sad is a more appropriate word) episode…

The postal clerk said she’d never seen these forms before and went into the back to get her supervisor (who refused to give me his name).

He told me that the post office didn’t do “that”… and ask me where I got the forms, I told him the USPS web site (the people in line laughed, and that didn’t make him particularly happy).  Then he insisted again that the post office didn’t do “that”… and I ask him why the post office would have forms for something they didn’t do (and again I got laughs from the line).

He agreed to take the forms, and I reminded him that throwing them away would be a violation of postal regulations… he told me to get out of his lobby (presumably that would make him the station manager).

I’ve filed complaints with the US Postal Board of Governors before (and I just fired off another), but I always find complaining to my Representative, Senators, and President (all at once – which I’ve done as well) creates enough inquiries that the complaints is actually taken seriously.

I generally expect bad service at the post office, and it’s always amusing that the post office and quote postal regulations left and right when they benefit the post office… but few postal persons know anything about postal regulations that benefit the consumer.

For information on PS-1500 and taking control of your mail box, see my previous post:

Originally posted 2009-01-24 01:00:21.

Junk Mail

For a very long time now I’ve been trying to get my name removed from mailing lists at companies.

I’ve tried the DMA do-not-market lists, and the FCC do-not-call lists — as well as the US Postal Service PS-1500 (Application for Prohibitory Order); and while I recommend you try those approaches first, you’re going to find a collection of companies that just believe they can do what they want, and continue to send you mail after you have expressed your desire to have it stopped.

Three such companies I’ve found are:  Dish Network, DirecTV, and Medicom (a local cable provider).

Nothing seems to register with these companies — you can call and be polite, you can call and be abusive — and you will still get mail.

Now, though, I have a new tact — and this seems to work.

When you receive an advertisement from vendors who just won’t remove you from their mailing list, it likely says something like “Call Now” and provides a number… well, call it.

That’s right — call the number; and when they ask why you are calling it, simply politely say because I received an advertisement in my mail box from your company that ask me to — and since I’ve requested a number of times previously to no have anything from your company mailed to me, I can appreciate that it must be very important that I call.

Just continue to be polite, tell then you are not interested in their services; don’t answer any personal questions, and continue to remind them that you have repeatedly ask to be removed from their mailing lists, and state that you are convinced that it must be very important that you call, because they continue to send requests for you to call.

This will likely go on for awhile, just do it when you have something else to keep you busy (like answer email, write a blog post, etc)… be even toned and polite — don’t say anything, just repeat yourself.

If they say they can’t help you and offer another number — remind them that you haven’t ask for anything.  You are simply calling in as requested by the mail that they sent you against your wishes.

Eventually they will transfer you to a supervisor… and they may in fact transfer you again — but the bottom line is that this is the most effective way I have found to actually get your address and phone numbers removed from their databases.

Also, make sure you indicate to them that they do not have your permission to call or mail you… and that you will be happy to call them each and every time you receive a piece of mail from them asking you to do so.

You may find that the sales people on the phone will whine to you about they’re just employees trying to make a living… but they are, in fact, part of the problem, and they have the ability to offer you a solution — they just generally will not until you make it clear to them that you will call (as their companies advertisements request).

Also, you’re not breaking any laws…

The company could send you an order to stop calling them — but that order has effect only as long as they do not send you another request to call them (an advertisement)… so, bottom line, you will achieve your goal, on your terms.

Additionally, I encourage everyone in America to adopt this strategy… if someone keeps sending you mail that you do not want, just call them (like it says to do in the mail) and explain to them that you are calling because they have ask you to — and that you will continue to do that each and every time they mail you; that you have no interest in their services; and have asked on numerous occasions to be removed from their marketing rolls.

One last thing — you do not have to provide them with any more information than is on the mailing… so if it doesn’t have you name or your full name — you only need to provide what is on the mailer.  If it doesn’t have your phone number, you don’t have to provide it (though remember, when you call a toll free number they always get your caller id — you cannot block it).

Originally posted 2011-03-04 02:00:42.

How To Stop Unwanted Mail

On 04 May 1970 The United States Supreme Court issued a final decision in a case concerning what was then 39 USC Section 4009 and 4009a and is now 39 USC Section 3008… essentially that decision gave each and every American the power to order the United States Post Office to issue an injunction against any mail sender they deemed the material sent to them to be offensive.

The Unites States Supreme Court additional ruled that only the recipient of the material could make the determination of what was and was not offensive; that the United States Post Office and all other agencies must enforce based on an individuals preferences (not an arbitrary standard).

To exercise your rights under the law in the past you would need to request and execute US Post Office Form 2150 “Prohibitory order against sender of pandering advertisement in the mails” in triplicate.  However the US Post Office has replaced Form 2150 with Form 1500 which is available in PDF

You can return the completed form and the opened envelope from the sender to your local post office or to:

     Pricing and Classification Service Center
     PO BOX 1500
     New York NY 10008-1500

Your local post office will likely try to tell you that you cannot use these forms unless it contains “erotically arousing or sexually provocative matter”, however you can refer them to page 13 of Postal Bulletin 219177 (30 July 1998) and point out:

Postmasters may not refuse to accept a Form 1500 because the advertisement in question does not appear to be sexually oriented.  Only the addressee may make that determination.

Further, Form 1500 includes the following paragraph:

Your obtaining the protection offered through these two programs makes sending prohibited mail to you unlawful. However, it does not make such mailings physically impossible. If you receive an apparently violate mail piece, contact your post office or refer to your notification letter for instructions on submitting the piece as evidence for possible enforcement action.

The article you attach to your a prohibitory order must be opened (postal employees are not permitted to open sealed articles).





No. 399. Argued January 22, 1970. Decided May 4, 1970

US Code Title 39 Part IV Chapter 30 § 3008

§ 3008. Prohibition of pandering advertisements



United States Postal Service Administrative Decsions

PART 963 – Rules of Practice in Proceedings Relative to Violations of The Pandering Advertisements Statue, 39, U.S.C. 3008


Originally posted 2008-11-02 12:00:41.