Apparently, Smart Shopper has chosen to ignore my prohibitory order, as I received mail from them yesterday. (This is really exactly what I expected, since the type of discounted mailing permit they’re using requires mailing to all addresses in the town.) So, I forwarded the mailpiece off to the Prohibitory Order Processing Center, where if all goes well they’ll get a court order requiring compliance, and if they continue to mail me they’ll be in contempt of court. (39 USC 3008 (d), (e))
National Grid finally updated their billing system to allow for email billing instead of snail mail billing (although they haven’t advertised it as far as I see). Now the only paper statements/bills I get are those for my mortgage loans, where the bank says that they can’t make those electronic “due to compliance reasons”.
So, I’m one step closer to going mail-free.
Today I finally got a chance to check out the completely-redone Charlton Public Library. It’s quite impressive. One interesting note is that due to their snazzy new computer system (they finally have a web-based catalog), they no longer accepted my library card that I got when I was 8. The card has a little metal plate in it that they would stamp onto a due-date card somehow, back in the day. It feels like it’s some sort of rare collector’s item now or something.
Also today, I filled out my first Form 1500.
Bright and early tomorrow morning, my wife and I leave for Gen Con Indy.
On Wednesday, June 27, land got transferred into our name. However, despite the deed clearly naming us “Peter S. Cooper, Jr.” and “Jessica Jane Cooper”, the registry of deeds indexed us under “Peter S. Cooper” and “Jessica Jane”, omitting the final part of each of our names. I don’t think that this is really a big deal, since it’s just the indexing to find us and not the legal name of ownership (as far as my understanding goes).
Two days later, on Friday, June 29, at my parent’s house (next door), arrives a letter from Pioneer Oil, addressed to “Jessica Jane” and “Peter Cooper”, labeled with “Welcome to your new home”. As far as I can tell, they must get a data feed of new land transfers and try to market to them, assuming that land transfers must mean a new house, or something like that. We received similar postal spam when getting the land that our house is on. The fact that it went next door is somewhat interesting, but that was probably the only address listed on the deed. I also found it interesting that the names on it were hand-written and that it was metered with full $0.41 first-class postage. (I of course, wrote “Refused” on it and put it back.)
So, I’ve put in my parent’s mailbox today a temporary change of address form, for 6 months, for “Jessica Jane”, to go from 190 Berry Corner Rd. (my parents’ house) to 194 Berry Corner Rd. (our house). Since it’s temporary, we won’t get the slew of mailings from people the post office sends permanent address changes to. Since it’s a change of address, Standard Mail being sent to “Jessica Jane” at 190 will be discarded instead of forwarded. And if first-class mail gets sent to “Jessica Jane” at 190, it will be forwarded to us at 194, but we can refuse it and it will actually get sent back to the sender. (After all, there’s nobody here with last name “Jane”.)
When I logged onto my bank’s web site this past weekend, I learned that they’re now finally offering electronic statements.
I’m now one significant step closer to not needing a physical mailbox at all.
My hobby web site on sending junk mail back to the Post Office is rather quickly climbing the rankings on Google for relevant queries. It’s kind of fun watching the analytics data and watching people find my site for some very relevant search queries. This project is partly ending up being an experiment in creating a site about an obscure topic and seeing how people find it, which is kind of interesting in and of itself.
I put together a web site with the information I’ve learned about refusing unwanted mail.
Maybe this will be the start of a huge nationwide trend that’ll make a difference in Postal Service policies and get major media coverage.
Or maybe it’ll just be a cute site only read by me and a couple Random Strangers on the Internet.
(Edited afterward: I did let the refuseyourmail.info domain expire, and it’s now on a subdomain of cooperjr.name.)
I actually received a letter back from the Postmaster today, pretty much confirming what I thought. They said that they have to deliver all mail with a correct address and postage, and suggested I write the people sending me mail to tell them to stop mailing me. I’ve done this quite a bit, but it’s a pain to mail everybody, and it doesn’t stop saturation mailings (where a place pays the post office to just stick a copy in everybody’s box, and the address is just “Postal Customer” so they can’t just not print an address label for me). They also reminded me that I can refuse mail being sent to me by marking it Refused and putting it back (which is what I’ve been doing all along, and no doubt the Postmaster knows it).
So, I guess I’ll continue trying to opt out of mailing lists and refusing all the mail I don’t want.
I do wonder how much of a business opportunity there is for a private mailbox place (a private Post Office box-like rental, which does exist) which does “spam filtering” for its customers based on rules, and ideally complicated OCRing of return addresses rather than trusting humans to apply the rules correctly (and probably online access to the scanned rejected images for some period of time allowing for retrieval of false positives).
On March 28, I wrote a letter (like, an actual physical one) to my postmaster (again, the actual physical one, responsible for delivery of physical mail to Charlton, MA) asking them to not deliver me mail from the six addresses that had sent me the junk mail that was in the stack next to me at the moment.
Since that time, I have continued to receive mail from those address.
So, I’m trying again, this time sending a letter with 18 addresses (I’m keeping an Excel sheet of who’s sending me junk mail now) that I want to suppress mail from, and asking explicitly this time for a reply confirming that my request will be honored.
Based on my reading of section 1.1 of section 508 of the Domestic Mail Manual, this is well within my rights as a mail recipient. In fact, for one of the monthly pieces of mail (“Your Hometown Shopper”), I emailed them and asked to be removed from their mailing list, and they said they couldn’t since the Post Office just delivers it to every address in town, and so that I need to get the Postmaster involved in order to stop delivery of it.
In the meantime, I’m just continuing to mark my junk mail Refused and putting it back in the mailbox. At least they take it back like they’re supposed to. You’d think they’d get tired of delivering mail to me just to need to take it back, so I’d expect that with an explicit order from me they’d be happy to just throw it out immediately rather than expending resources to deliver it to me and take it back and then throw it out.
If this second attempt at writing a letter to establish a blacklist doesn’t work, I’m not sure what my next steps are. I might actually try calling them, but I’m working during business hours, so I’m not sure how well I could get that to work. Besides, being the Post Office and all, wouldn’t you think they’d respond well to an old-fashioned letter? I may also try the Form 1500 approach (claiming that I consider the mail pornographic and ordering the sender to stop mailing it), but that merely makes sending me the mail illegal, it doesn’t actually stop it, and I just want the mail to stop.