Stop the catalogs!
September 11, 2013 7:13 AM   Subscribe

I've just moved into a new apartment, and the previous residents were apparently single-handedly keeping the direct marketing world in business. Every day my mailbox is filled with catalogs. How can I most efficiently stop this onslaught? I live in Wisconsin (USA).
posted by philosophygeek to Home & Garden (15 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
It may take a week or so for their mail forward to kick in. Just toss them in the trash can before you get in your house. It should die down soon.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:15 AM on September 11, 2013

Catalogs don't get snagged by USPS mail forwarding.

I had luck (once, so perhaps this is not a thing that they regularly do) going (in person) to the post office lease in hand and saying, "[name] longer lives at this address, please stop all mail to [name] at this address."

In the meantime, keep a trash bin by the mailbox and dump everything in there immediately. It reduces the stress level considerably.
posted by phunniemee at 7:16 AM on September 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

You can also just call the catalog retailers and ask to be removed. This seems more effective in the long run; catalog companies don't really care whether the intended recipient is still at the address, given that there's always a chance that the new tenant will order something.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 7:18 AM on September 11, 2013 [4 favorites]

Catalogchoice! I have successfully stopped catalogs using this site.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:22 AM on September 11, 2013 [8 favorites]

Admiral Haddock: You can also just call the catalog retailers and ask to be removed.

This works really well. It's kind of a pain, and it takes a little while for it to "kick in", but if you do one or two a day, it is not too bad, and it does work. If you check the fine print of the catalog, you may find a "Call this number to unsubscribe" or just call the general Customer Service number.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:30 AM on September 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Seconding Catalog Choice - I signed up ~5 years ago and it has cut down on the volume significantly.
posted by ryanshepard at 7:42 AM on September 11, 2013

posted by kcm at 7:48 AM on September 11, 2013 [5 favorites]

The Direct Mail Association runs a web site that lets you opt-out of their members' mailings, including catalogs. They require a registration and e-mail verification, but they eventually let you in to a set of menus where you can tediously choose which vendors' mail you want to stop receiving -- or you can scroll to the bottom of the screen and choose "Stop All".

Hitting that site is part of my move-in checklist. It works to stop a majority of the junk mail. Most of the rest will stop if you call them directly and ask nicely (catalogs are easy, but other types of junk mail might require some Google detective work in order to find a contact number, because the junk-mailer is very intentionally avoiding phone calls from an angry public). For the last one or two junk-mailers that refuse to stop no matter how many times you ask nicely, the USPS Form 1500 is a swift and sure remedy where appropriate; read and follow label directions.
posted by Dimpy at 8:06 AM on September 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Except for one-offs, I've stopped nearly all catalogues to our house by calling and asking to be removed from the mailing list. It's a pain, but it works. Companies will start mailing whenever you order something, so you need to make the call again.
posted by Elsie at 8:42 AM on September 11, 2013

It's been my experience that if you don't buy from a catalog in about 6 months to a year, they'll stop sending it (and any other catalogs attached to that company's mailing list service).

Just throw them in the recycling bin in the meantime.
posted by tckma at 9:15 AM on September 11, 2013

Seconding Catalog Choice. You can sign up with your own name, but you can ask them to stop catalogs under ANY name. Even "Occupant".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:27 AM on September 11, 2013

I've been using PaperKarma for a few months but have mixed results; the app says "Success" for each piece of mail that I scan, but I still get credit card offers and RedPlum and the like. I just tried DMA Choice on Dimpy's suggestion and it looks a bit more robust.
posted by a halcyon day at 10:33 AM on September 11, 2013

If your community has recycling, keep your bin near the mailbox. I have tons of stuff that goes from the box to the bin, a trip of about three feet. And no walking.
posted by Billiken at 1:55 PM on September 11, 2013

In general the recipient has control over the mail they receive. I'm in a rental and was receiving *gobs* of mail for the previous residents, who apparently didn't leave forwarding addresses.

I talked to my local postmaster, and got a thing which I swear was called a "verified delivery order" but I can't find any reference to the term in the domestic mail manual. Basically it's a whitelist: Mail addressed to MY NAME is delivered, and to RESIDENT is delivered (because that's a wildcard and I match it), but to ANY OTHER NAME is refused/returned/whatever without my involvement.

It's not quite perfect; I still get one or two pieces a month, but it's down from five a day.

Talk to your postmaster or delivery supervisor.
posted by Myself at 2:25 PM on September 11, 2013

The aggregate services are easier but may not get you the results you want. PaperKarma, especially, seems to depend on some sort of photo recognition that is only partially accurate and regularly sends removal requests to the wrong businesses.

To really get them to stop, call the business, with the catalog in hand. They may need information directly from the catalog (and will almost certainly need the previous resident's name), which an aggregate service may or may not collect from you.
posted by marmago at 6:48 PM on September 11, 2013

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