Opting out of the postal service

I want out. I want the mail to stop coming to me. It’s not a question of not liking what comes to me, it’s just 90% crud useless. And I’m willing to do without the useful stuff just so that I don’t have to deal with the useless stuff.

I get and pay my bills online. I’m not going to be getting anything from GameFly or Netflix. Packages arrive via UPS or FedEx or DHL. I’m with Kramer on this one, I just want the mail to stop coming to me.

It’s nothing personal, it’s just that I get so much clutter. I receive statements that I could get online, bills that I already get online, and more ads than I know what to do with. It’s 2005, if I can’t manage my account with you online or in person, I probably can with your competitor.

The closest thing I’ve seen to my discontent being discussed is actually with newspapers, not the mail. In figuring out why their subscription rates were plummeting, the Washington Post found out that 18 to 34 year olds wouldn’t accept a free subscription (much less pay for one) because “they didn’t like the idea of old newspapers piling up in their houses.” That’s exactly the same problem I have with the mail.

I’m not anti-mail, and I know a few people who worked for the USPS and they seem on the up-and-up. I’m willing to stick out the olive branch. How about a whitelist of accepted senders? That way I can still get stuff from people on eBay or Amazon, everything else gets returned to sender. Of course if I have to fill out and send in a form the deal is off. I need to be able to manage my whitelist online.

14 thoughts on “Opting out of the postal service

  1. But of course you’d probably have to find some way to pay for the extra sorting. Or require that all senders provide a machine-readable return address label. Either way, I think the way to pitch this to the USPS is as a new feature they can provide: mail filtering. Then maybe they could provide you with the ability to provide an arbitrary set of rules (code) for selecting what is delivered to you. It it really gets to be like email, you’ll be seeing mail stamped with X-Spam-Status on it.

  2. I’d be more than happy to pay for the service, just as others are happy to pay for email filtering. I imagine I’d just start giving my postal address as some P.O. Box (or Suite # at some mail drop) and then let them manage my mail for me.

  3. But don’t forget that commercial mail is a source of revenue for the post office. They aren’t interested in giving you ways to opt-out.
    My town has no home mail delivery; only POBoxes. I’ve used the info I found online to let all the direct-mail companies etc. know that I don’t want to receive mail from them. However, some companies buy out every POBox at the site; the mail comes addressed to occupant at this Zip, so I’m not in that company’s database and can’t unsubscribe. The post office simply takes the bulk mail from these folks and puts one in every box, just a like an office memo at work.
    There’s no way for me to not receive that mail. Because the post office is selling us in bulk.

  4. i would imagine that bulk rate mail is the primary source of revenue for the USPS. there is no way they would provide a service that pissed off their main customers, and i am talking about the bulk rate spammers here.
    you are better off just setting up a change of address forward to go to 1060 West Addison Street
    Chicago, Illinois 60613-4397

  5. … How about a whitelist of
    accepted senders? …

    … you’d probably have to find some
    way to pay for the extra sorting …
    I would pay also!!
    I hate all the crap that comes to my door.
    I am to the point where I’m saving money for stamps which say:
    “RETURN TO SENDER”
    “Send No More”
    “Does Not Live Here >”
    “Remove From Your List”
    “Advertising Not Accepted At This Address”
    and using whichever are appropriate on each piece of junk mail I receive.
    (since I hand write this about 3 times a day anyway)
    And, what kills me is I still can’t figure out how to contact the people responsible for the weekly coupons to tell them to stop sending them.

  6. Maybe we can do some direct negotiating with our immediate representative of the USPS, the Mail Carrier. Tipping them for a sorting service. We could sign a waiver or something.
    I do remember that a group in Canada had done well to get this bulk mail issue onto or near a ballot and the Postal Union came out against it. It would cut jobs… So we must try to have discussions with them to get on the same page.

  7. Form 1500
    It’s time for my yearly check-in and you make me regurgitate html… sad thing too, this opt-out you’re looking for is another google wonder.
    It’s magical. Form 1500 – fill it out, attach it to your pornographic mail (like you’d return that) or OFFENSIVE mail, take it to the post office (a bit of work involved here) and they cannot deliver mail from that sender to you.
    I’m thinking, print out a few dozen of these, collect up all the litter that fills your box and make one final visit to snail headquarters. voila.

  8. George,
    If you don’t want mail, why don’t you just stop checking it?
    Also, what about having a little bin that you let fill up each week with junk mail, and then every sunday you stamp it all return to sender and drop it back in one of those blue mailboxes? Even if it doesn’t get returned, and it’s just reprocessed and sent back to you, it’ll already have your stamp on it so you can just drop it back in your junk mail bin.
    That form 1500 thing above seems pretty cool, and I read through most of the website for more tips, etc. But it all seems like so much work just to get rid of something that you shouldn’t even be getting in the first place. Then again, if it’s a one time dealyo that’ll free me from this shit forever, maybe I’ll have to give it a shot.

  9. Just get rid of your mailbox. IANAL, but I really doubt you’re legally required to maintain a mailbox, so just throw it away and they won’t be able to deliver your mail any more.
    If your girlfriend still wants to receiver her mail, you might have to get rid of her, too. Or if you’d rather keep her around because you like her or whatever, get a PO Box.
    Although I get a lot of junk mail at my residential mailbox, I get maybe two or three pieces of junk a month at my PO Box even though it’s published online and I use it almost exclusively. I bet that’s because the bulk mailers don’t target PO Boxes since almost everyone has a residential mailbox. Of course, the downside is that you (or your girlfriend) have to go to the Post Office to get your mail.

  10. It won’t help us here, but I lived in Belgium for a while, and you could write “no junk mail” on your mailbox and you would get – ta da! – no junk mail. It was fantastic. I don’t know how they managed to get it established that way.

  11. “That way I can still get stuff from people on eBay or Amazon, everything else gets returned to sender. Of course if I have to fill out and send in a form the deal is off.”
    That’s your problem right there. Amazon, and every other place you forgot you gave your vitals to. It takes about five years to get zero unwanted. And, your second line above — every ‘helpful’ form you fill out adds more incoming sooner or later.

  12. All bulk mail should be required to have a return coupon on it. If the recipient does not want certain mailpieces, fill out the coupon and send it back. That way you could still receive the ads you want and stop the junk at the source. I like this better than a do not mail list. It would however, require lawmakers to change laws and people must get involved to make it happen.

  13. Would be the financial implications of a majority of the population opting out of spam snail mail? Service in major metropolis would continue, but what about the cost for small towns and rural areas?
    With all the security concerns going around these days, I would imagine that it is not that far-fetched to get all spam-mail as opt-out, at least. That way, you could control who sends you what.
    But remember that the Government will always be the government – You need a physical address for an amazing amount of transactions and procedures.
    And the Victoria Secret catalog is simply easier to browse in its physical form.

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