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Will the DMA help you?

People are often confused about how to manage their privacy and get their name and address removed from mailing lists. Turns out that companies are adding to the confusion.

Companies often tell consumers to go to the DMA to get their name removed from mailing lists. Here is the DMA's position on this as set forth in a recent email from the DMA Corporate & Social Responsibility group:

Do Not Pass the Buck!

Consumers continue to be sent to the DMA by companies who are “passing the buck…” Company representatives are telling consumers that DMA is the source of the data and if the consumer wants to be removed from the company’s mailing list, the individual must contact DMA. We cannot help consumers get off of your individual list. (emphasis added)

As a reminder, please ensure that you train your staff to input consumer requests directly into your internal preference files. The DMA does not issue marketing lists and is not the source of your data. If a consumer asks to be removed from your list, you need to ensure that you have an in-house suppression process in place. For consumers that want to be removed from all mailings, these consumers may visit to add themselves to industry-wide suppression files. Thank you for your assistance to provide proper help to consumers!

Catalog Choice is designed to help consumers manage their privacy and choose which company marketing lists to leave their name on and which ones to get off of.  Without the help of Catalog Choice, you have to contact hundreds of companies that you do business with to instruct them how you want the to handle your name and address.

That is an onerous task.  It starts with finding the contact information for all the companies.  Next you have to read their privacy policy to figure out how to opt-out.  A 2008 Carnegie Mellon University study estimates that it would cost $365 billion in lost leisure and productivity time if everyone read the privacy policies of the web sites they visited.  You can read the entire study here or a synopsis here.

Lastly, you have to contact the company with your request.  Our studies show that it takes over 5 minutes per company.  If you do this for 100 companies that is an investment of 500 minutes or 8.3 hours.  At 8 hours a day, that is a full days you would have to spend to control how companies use your name and address. Very few people will invest this amount of time to manage their privacy.

So, that is why we built Catalog Choice.  Citizens want to stop the flow of unwanted mail, but like recycling they want it to be easy.  So we figured if we applied some good old fashion ingenuity and automation, we could make this process easy enough for people to do.  It is a win for everyone.  Less clutter in your home, less wasted marketing dollars for companies and less wasted resources for the world.

Reader Comments (8)

5 minutes for 100 companies is 500 minutes, not hours. That's a bit over 4 hours, which at 8 hours a day is half a day.

January 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJoe Snuffy

Joe - you are so right about my error. I made the edit. 500 min / 60 min/hr = 8.3 hours, which is around a day of work. Still way too much. Not sure how you got 4 hours.

January 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChuck

I think of it as making a small investment each day. I bring my pile of mail up to my desk next to my computer. I log into Catalog Choice, and then go through the various mailers and catalogs, and make sure my preferences are correctly recorded in Catalog Choice. Maximum 5 minutes a day. A worthwhile investment of time. My kids like to watch and make sure I'm doing it correctly. Thank you, Catalog Choice!

January 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMichael Stein

Family time! Thanks for sharing your story Michael.

January 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChuck

A couple of random comments & suggestions, there's no place for me to post directly to this blog. I'm an obsessive unsubscriber, and have learned that actually making these unsubscriptions stick can take multiple attempts.
However, many of the mailings, especially from credit card offers, can be eliminated in one fell swoop through the website the big 4 credit rating companies (Experion, TransUnion, Innovis, Equifax) have set up to deal with this, This definitely beats going vendor to vendor, and the credit card mailings have dropped to literally nothing. I highly recommend that CatalogChoice push this as the first line of defense.
The other concern I have is with companies from whom I have unsubscribed from their catalog, but then place another order. This automatically triggers my address to be put back onto the mailing list, and the catalogs show up again. This seems like a structural problem with the companies. Is there anything that CatalogChoice can do to lobby DMA to have their members change this practice? Once back on the list, it takes months to get back off because of the pre-printed direct mail framework in use these days. Please help!

January 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew E.

Thanks for the feedback Andrew. We have Optoutprescreen in our list and will take your lead to make it more prominent in the Find Company area. Regarding the issue of getting back on the mailing list once you buy. This is an area where we are working extremely hard with retailers to require a secondary confirmation before they put you back on the list. The good news is that many merchants will continue to honor your opt-out even if you buy again. We will have more information on this in the coming weeks.

January 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChuck

I wholeheartedly agree with Andrew E. about using Optoutprescreen to stop credit card offers. Since my partner and I placed our names on that list a half-dozen or more years ago, we have received a total of one credit card offer. (That one was sent to me in my capacity as Treasurer of a small non-profit organization, not to me as an individual.)

January 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHazel

Good to know the DMA's position on this. Thanks for the correct info.

February 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAlison Moore Smith

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