Junk Mail Own Goal

There has been an amusing own goal by the Royal Mail over the past couple of days. You might not be aware, but there are two sorts of junk mail that come through your letterbox. The first is stuff that is directly addressed to you, or more often than not some previous resident. The second sort is stuff that is adressed to merely the occupier, and is delivered by the postman to every address.

Reducing the flow of direct addressed mail is pretty straightforward, and involves signing up with the mailing preference service. Stopping the other sort is somewhat more complicated, and involves sending an e-mail to a particular address at Royal Mail. Needless to say they don’t advertise the address – to borrow a quote it’s written on a piece of paper stored in the basement, where the lights had gone out, in a locked cabinet in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying “Beware of the Tigerâ€?…

Anyway, the Royal Mail quite often tries to get a regular member of staff to do each round, which especially in rural areas means that many householders build up a good raport with their regular postman. One postman in Wales was often asked how to stop all this junk mail, and it seems got so fed up with keep telling people the same thing, printed up a leaflet with instructions on who to contact. Needless to say his managers were less than pleased when they found out, as delivering this junk is a valuable source of revenue for the company, and they suspended him.

The story made the national news yesterday, and a number of the news programmes publicised the e-mail address. Amusingly after this so many people e-mailed the address wanting the junk to stop that the mail server crashed under the load. Rather than a few people in Wales opting out, hundreds of people across the country now know about the service and are opting out.

This morning, a senior marketing person from Royal Mail was doing the rounds extolling the benefits to the consumer of having the junk, and also doing the usual routine of spreading fear, uncertainty and doubt by saying that there might be important communications that wouldn’t get through. It has to be said that this sounds much the same as the similar dire warnings that BT give when you try to get the Anonymous Call Reject service activated on your phone line (a service that will not connect any caller who deliberately masks their phone number so you don’t know who they are). Bear in mind that in both cases, the Royal Mail and BT make considerable sums of money by delivering either the junk mail, or the phone calls, so it pays them to persuade you not to block them.

(Post box picture conversations-with-royal-mail. Originally uploaded by lyrical.)

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