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Advice from a Merchant

The following quote was authored by Colleen Connell, President of Gaelsong, a multi-channel (catalog and web) merchant.  She tells the story of Catalog Choice from the merchant's perspective so I thought it would be great to let all of our readers see it.  I found this comment when visiting the TerraPass blog.  TerraPass, a carbon offset company, authored two blog posts on the topic of junk mail.  The comment string on this orginial blog post was so active, that Adam Stein published a second post with both Colleen's and my comments.  I followed up with Colleen to get her permission to republish her comment here.  There is only one clarification that is necessary.  She indicates that only participating merchants in Catalog Choice get your opt-out request.  In fact we deliver the requests to many merchants who are not participating via email, password protected CD and they can download their file from a secure server.  We are developing new tools to improve the success of fulfilling requests from non-participating merchants.  More on this later.

In Colleen's words:
I own a mail-order catalog company and have direct experience with both the DMA and Catalog Choice (as well as experience talking to people who want to be removed from our mailing list). If you just get a few catalogs that you don't want, the most effective method is to contact those catalogs directly. But if you are being bombarded with loads of different unwanted catalogs, the best approach is to use both and

I recommend over the DMA’s service, but if you want to be sure to have your opt-out request honored, you should use both sites.

Also, whenever you place an order with a mail-order catalog company or subscribe to a magazine, you should request that they not rent or share your name with any other company. allows you to choose which catalogs you don't want to receive at all; it also allows you to choose the frequency of catalogs that you do like but that you may be receiving too frequently.

Originally the DMA and many members of the catalog industry opposed Catalog Choice, but I am among a growing number of merchants who think that they are performing an extremely important role for consumers, the environment, and even for the catalog industry itself. Due to the DMA's opposition, Catalog Choice got off to a slow and controversial start, but more and more merchants are cooperating with them every day.

The DMA is finally starting (very reluctantly) to see the light and they have modified their opt-out site to be more like Catalog Choice. The problem is that only the merchants who are members of the DMA can access the list of people who have opted out of receiving their catalogs. So if you opt out on the DMA site but the cataloger is not a DMA member, they will not know that you requested to be off their list. Likewise, if you opt out on Catalog Choice's site, only merchants who are cooperating with Catalog Choice get that data.  (See above for clarification on this point). As more and more people use, more merchants will use their service and it will become more effective.

Also, please be aware that it really does take up to three months to get someone off a mailing list, so you need to be patient. The list for any given mailing is prepared weeks if not months in advance. If you are still getting unwanted catalogs after three months, I would recommend contacting the catalog directly and requesting again and tell them to use the Catalog Choice and DMA Choice services!

Reader Comments (6)

I very much regret that I used Catalog Choice to opt-out from mail order catalogs. Catalog Choice helped me to stop few catalogs from coming, but now I receive 5 times more new catalogs I used to receive. I think, this is because the merchants who participate in Catalog Choice program sell or rent names/addresses of people who try to opt-out through Catalog Choice.
I suggest anyone who wants to opt-out to contact merchants themselves and ask them to remove their names/addresses as well as not to sell/rent their information.

November 12, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRegina

Hi Regina,

Merchants are not allowed to rent, sell or trade the names of our members. Our merchant license states that we provide participating merchants with our members' information solely for the purpose of fulfilling and confirming your mail preference request.

I'm sorry you are still receiving unwanted catalogs. You may be getting more catalogs right now because companies are already starting to mail for the holiday season. If you are receiving new catalogs, then it is likely that mailers are purchasing your name from any number of companies in the direct mail industry that rent or sell names.

Please stick with us as we are continuously working to communicate your requests. We’ve begun listing comprehensive contact information for each catalog if you prefer to contact them directly.

Paul Hobi
Catalog Choice

November 13, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterPaul

Catalog Choice works great for me! I was receiving catalogs for atleast 2 prior residents at my address. Christmas 2007 was a nightmare. Now I hardly receive any catalogs - just the ones I want. Thanks for this invaluable service, Catalog Choice.

November 17, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCarol Mercer

I have been using Catalogue Choice since January of this year and have seen no impact in almost 11 months. I am particularly frustrated by companies, like Sundance and Cuddledown, who appear to be working with CC and are listed as "cool companies" but send monthly catalogues, each with a new customer number. This seems like such a good idea but I'm ready to give up. The website is slow. I'd be willing to take the time if I could see any impact. In 11 months only one company has taken me off: Vermont Country Store. Makes we want to buy stuff from them!

November 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterNancy Dalwin

I love catalog choice. I was so very tired of getting countless catalogs from companies, some of which I had never heard of. And, I was still getting catalogs in my mother's name. She died 4 years ago! I have had very good luck with this service.

December 8, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSandy C.

I guess I missed commenting on this blog. But Colleen, thanks. Funny, yesterday, I was going through boxes of stuff in our wanna bee finished basement and found an old Gaelsong catalog and I really love your catalog. Some day. I really believe your approach has been very diplomatic and a more real way of opting out. (Looking at both sides) I believe you are giving DMA a reality check.
Like Sandy C. we're getting mailings and not just catalogs for my late in-laws and they never lived at either of our addresses.

December 8, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterYvonne Camesi

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