Junk-Mail Junkie - Part Two

Please chip in to support rabble's election 2019 coverage. Support rabble.ca today for as little as $1 per month!

Friday, I explained why writing "Take My Name Off Your Mailing List" and returning a letter does nothing to reduce the flow of direct mail appeals coming to your doorstep.

Today, I'm going to tell you what you can do to reduce the number of appeals you receive.

On January 1, 2001, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents (PIPED) Act came into being. It covers all transactions involving lists that are rented, traded or bartered with a charity or business in another province.

According to Privacy Commissioner George Radwanski, an "opt-out consent" is acceptable when the information collected is not sensitive - such as a name and address. The Act stipulates that the information must be used "for reasonable purposes only."

So, what do you do to stay off lists that are traded?

Look for a box to check off.

  • There should be one on every subscription, donation and membership form you fill out. It should say something like, "Do not allow my name to be traded with mailings from other organizations."

Phone, fax or e-mail the organizations that send you stuff.

  • Ask them to tell you where they got your name. Don't be shy; you'll be giving them an opportunity to explain their privacy policy. All lists are coded. This allows the organization that sent out the letter to keep track of the response rates from various lists. You may be asked to read a code on the address label, or to fax the mailing label so they can check with their list broker.

Contact the list source directly.

  • Tell them you want your name "tagged," so it isn't included in list trades or rentals. About a quarter of the subscribers of Herizons, where I work, have ticked a box on their subscription cards indicating that they don't want to have their names traded or rented.

List your name and address with the Canadian Direct Marketing Association.

  • You can do it online. Your name will automatically be screened from the mailers who vet their names through the association. The service lasts for three years.

    One drawback of this method results from the way names are sorted and struck from lists. For example, if you register at the CDMA as Susan Dale, #3-234 Agnes Street, and someone gets a file that has your address as S. Dale, 234 Agnes St. Apt 3, you may still receive mailings.

Reduce duplicate mailings

  • Do this by listing your name and address the same way each time you subscribe to a magazine or make a donation.

The use of mailing lists is only a small part of what is in Canada's Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act. You can view it in greater detail.

Confessions of a Junk-Mail Junkie - Part One

Penni Mitchell is the editor of Herizons, Canada's largest feminist magazine.

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.

Comments

We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:

Do

  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.

Don't

  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.