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Tuesday
Apr142009

In the words of our members ...

We have collected a handful of testimonials from our members that we want to share. We welcome your comments in the blog.
“What a great idea this is! Tell businesses that this is actually excellent advertising for them. I investigated and found a whole bunch of new catalogs that I am interested in while browsing through your list. I have bookmarked their websites, so I can browse their products online.”
-Catalog Choice member

“I shop 95% online. In less than 90 days I’ve opted out of 303 catalogs that weighed 120 lbs. My on line shopping will not diminish, just the waste. Thanks for a terrific site!!!”
-Catalog Choice member

“Thank you for helping! In three months I've gone from 51 catalogs to fewer than five stragglers, and seen your "confirmed" labels grow from single digits to almost half of the total as (I suppose) more merchants joined Catalog Choice. For the rest of the merchants, your "My choices" page and notes feature at least helped me keep track of those I contacted personally…The decrease in my daily mail volume is striking. Tell your merchants that the success of this effort will lead me to keep Catalog Choice bookmarked as a way of adding catalogs once the flood has ceased.
-William from Washington, DC

“I joined Catalog Choice last year after being inundated year after year with un-asked for catalogs at the holiday time. I wanted to let you know that this year, I have received a FRACTION of the amount of catalogs that I normally get. THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!!”
-Debbie from Villanova, PA

“I definitely will support merchants who participate in this service. The reason I will go to these merchants first is that I support anyone who is concerned about making our world better. We are living in a time where we need to cut down on waste. As our life is simplified (in this case by removing waste), it allows for more free time to do the things we enjoy... which can mean shopping and browsing online. I visit your website and have hundreds of catalogs at my fingertips and can browse and shop without having my mailbox cluttered where there's so many that I don't even look at them. They go straight to the recycling bin, because it's overwhelming. It's easier to just put them in the recycle bin than to start sorting through. Now I can just visit the catalog I'm in the mood for when I go to your website. Thanks for this service, and I hope the merchants know we really appreciate them listening. It certainly doesn't mean I will not shop with them. I
will shop with any merchant online which is more convenient, and I'm happy to be doing something to help our environment, and working with others who have the same interest.
-Donna from Norridge, IL

“I definitely see the difference--and I'm thrilled!!! Catalog Choice is a tremendous service for the environment! Since I've been using your site to decline catalogues, I've seen a dramatic decrease in unwanted catalogue mailings. I could not be happier to see my mailbox emptied of wasted paper by the tons.”
-Brenda

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!!! We have noticed a significant reduction of catalogs in our mailbox. You are providing a wonderful service.
-Carol and Jim
Thursday
Mar262009

I hope the merchants know we really appreciate them listening

We received an email from a Catalog Choice member today that articulates how many consumers feel about merchant participation.  Donna's message is clear -  honoring mail preference requests is critical to building customer loyalty.
Dear Chuck, I am more than happy to pass on information about Catalog Choice
to my friends.  I definitely will support merchants who participate in this
service.  The reason I will go to these merchants first is that I support
anyone who is concerned about making our world better.  We are living in a
time where we need to cut down on waste.  As our life is simplified (in this
case by removing waste), it allows for more free time to do the things we
enjoy... which can mean shopping and browsing online.  I visit your website
and have hundreds of catalogs at my fingertips and can browse and shop
without having my mailbox cluttered where there's so many that I don't even
look at them. They go straight to the recycling bin, because it's
overwhelming.  It's easier to just put them in the recycle bin than to start
sorting through.  Now I can just visit the catalog I'm in the mood for, when
I go to your website.

Thanks for this service, and I hope the merchants know we really appreciate
them listening.  It certainly doesn't mean I will not shop with them... I
will shop online with any merchant online which is more convenient, and I'm
happy to be doing something to help our environment, and working with others
who have the same interest.

Thanks again

Donna

Norridge, IL
Friday
Nov142008

How did my name get on that mailing list?

The answer to this question is as complex as the network of systems and service providers that enable the direct mail process.

The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse provides information on many of the ways your name and address get on lists used to send direct mail.  You can review their information on this topic here.  The following is a brief summary.

If you have done any of the following recently, your name and address are likely on various name rental lists:

1. Participated in a supermarket loyalty club (except California, which prohibits supermarkets from selling such personally identifiable data to third parties (California Civil Code 1749.60).

2. Subscribed to a magazine.

3. Filled out a warranty or registration card.

4. Given money to a charity.

5. Entered sweepstakes.

6. Purchased products online or through a catalog.

7. Carried a mortgage on a home

8. Had a baby

Basically, if you are an active consumer in today's economy, your name and address are on numerous direct mail lists.  Some companies rent these lists when they send out catalogs in hope of gaining new customers.  They don't just mail their catalog to anybody.  They use sophisticated analysis to identify prospective consumers whose purchasing patterns make them a good prospect for the company's products.  It is expensive to rent the list, analyze the data, produce and mail the catalog.

Some Catalog Choice members have complained on this blog and to our customer service team that they are receiving more catalogs since they started using our service. Let me describe why it is highly unlikely that your participation in our service is the cause of additional catalogs, what Catalog Choice is doing to protect your privacy and how we are working to reduce the volume of unsolicited mailings in the United States.

First and foremost, Catalog Choice does not rent or trade your name with anybody.  This notion flies in the face of our mission, values, ethics, by-laws and business practices.  If a customer service representative at a catalog company tells you that we rent and sell names (several have started this rumor), recognize that this employee is not properly informed and politely direct them to get their facts straight.  You can refer them to the ACMA press release about Catalog Choice, the recent DMNews article titled Mail Crowd Rallies for Choice or our Merchant FAQ to get the straight scoop.

Second, merchants who are participating in the Catalog Choice merchant account program have signed a license agreement that prohibits them from renting, trading or sharing the names of Catalog Choice members with anybody.  They can only use the personally identifiable information provided by Catalog Choice to fulfill the mail preference request entered at our site.

Third, it has been surmised by some that merchants are trading the names of Catalog Choice members with others so that consumers will become discouraged with our service.  While anything is possible, we believe that it is highly unlikely that a given merchant would spend thousands of dollars to mail catalogs to consumers who have taken the time opt-out on our site.  Why would the mailer risk their brand value and financial resources on this?  They want to mail people who will buy their products.  Just to make sure that this practice does not occur, we will be instituting a list seeding program.  Through list seeding, we will include specific names in each merchant's list that if mailed will provide clear evidence of the mailer's violation of our confidentiality agreement.

Fourth, we never release your email address.  When you make an opt-out request with a most merchants not participating in our service, send the request via email on your behalf by using a unique catalogchoice.org email address that we create for each member-catalog title.  We are not willing to trade a well managed physical mailbox for an email inbox clutter with unwanted email.

I hope this post helps our members understand the source of new catalogs you may be receiving during the holiday season and the steps we are taking to build a secure, scalable mail preference service.  So, this holiday season, if you get a new catalog and you don't want it in the future, add it to My Choices and we will work tirelessly to get your preference honored.  If you get a catalog that has products you like and you enjoy receiving it, then keep that one coming.  The choice is yours.

If you want to suppress your name from most name rental lists, the best bet at this time is to register your name on the Direct Marketing Association's Do Not Rent list.  DMA members are suppose to honor this list and not mail catalogs to prospects on this list.  You can register for this list at http://dmachoice.org.  Once you register for this service, go to Other Mail Offers under the Manage My Mail menu on the left hand side of the site.

As always, thanks to all the members who dedicate their valuable time entering your mail preference requests at Catalog Choice.  Without your time and effort, we would not have made such significant progress working with the direct mail industry to reduce unwanted mail over the past year.  With your continued support, we are dedicated to have the best title-specific mail preference service in the country - a service that allows you to choose the mail you no longer wish to receive, reduce the frequency of other titles and go paperless with any merchant.

This holiday season, join thousands of other Catalog Choice members by showing your support for the merchants that are leading the way by honoring your Catalog Choice request.  Over 340 catalog titles are participating in our program and new ones are added every day.  Start your holiday shopping with these merchants by visiting the Cool Catalogs page.
Monday
Nov032008

What can I do about climate change?

The Climate Group has developed a website - Together.com - that provides practical solutions from brands and NGOs that anyone can use to do something to improve climate change.  We believe in practical solutions, so Catalog Choice has become a Together.com partner.  You can see a reference to our solution here and more information about our involvement here.

There is no silver bullet to fighting climate change.  Together.com provides an array of simple solutions that you can adopt.  Here is a sample of some that you will find on their site:

Saturday
Nov012008

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 catalogchoice.org and dmachoice.org.

I recommend catalogchoice.org 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.

Catalogchoice.org 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 catalogchoice.org, 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!
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