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Stop junk postal mail

My mother, who has a lot of friends that send her hoaxes, email chain letters and other forms of internet tomfoolery on a regular basis, got an email from 41 Pounds. 41 Pounds claims that they will stop your US Postal junk mail if you give them money.

I took a quick look around and found similar services at StopTheJunkMail and Greendimes.

I cannot tell if these are legit or not; Doing searches on the internet are largely self referential. The problem with this kind of service is that they could, in theory, sign you up for the Direct Marketing Association’s do-not-mail list and stop there. You would notice a decrease in mail and everything else they could say, “Well, we stopped a whole lot. We can’t be perfect.” How could you tell?

The best way to ensure that you don’t get any more junk mail is to do it your self. You’ll know what happened, how to do it again, and if you want to give money to charities you can do that directly.

Ciao!

[Added 2007/05/05] Here are two Greendimes admin interface images:

GreenDimes admin interface GreenDimes admin interface (cont.)

Comments

Gravatar for kendra
Kendra

Hi there- thanks for this post about stopping junk mail! I am writing from GreenDimes to tell you that we are, in fact, a legitimate business that has already stopped 587,000 pounds of junk mail, planted more than 183,000 trees on our members behalf and saved some 1,500,000 gallons of water. We are able to save valuable resources by taking action for each of our members, and here is how: first, we get your name off of various direct mailing company’s lists. Second, we give each of our members the tools to manage the catalogs they recieve; Once you sign up, you are able to go into your account through our website and let us know which catalogs you wish to no longer recieve (and keep the ones you want!) We have researched some 3,000 catalogs and are able to opt our members out of such mailings. Third, for every month that you are a member with GreenDimes, we will plant a tree (with one of our three tree-planting partners, who you can read more about on our website) on your behalf. So in addition to reducing your junk mail, we are also replenishing the resources already used. GreenDimes is actionable, accountable and the work we do is measurable. Check us out if you haven’t already! www.greendimes.com. Take good care and please let me know if you have any additional questions or concerns. Thanks again for your post. -Kendra www.greendimes.com

Gravatar for docwhat
docwhat

Hi Kendra!

Obviously you pay attention to people who invoke your name. :-)

Do you provide a list of the steps that you have made to remove people from the mailing lists? Or any other sort of information that can be checked up on?

I’m not accusing you or any of the other anti-junk-mail companies of anything, but if I wanted to make a quick buck while being a slime; I could create a company and collect the money, add the person to the DMA list and then call it quits. If the someone complains, I would just say, “You can’t expect every bit of junk mail to be stopped.”

Actually, just a couple of screen shots or a video of someone using the interface to show how you are giving the customer feedback.

Ciao!

Gravatar for kendra
Kendra
Note: This message was sent originally via my Email-Me page because I broke the comments earlier today. Since I had to reformat this, formatting errors are probably mine. :-(
-docwhat

Hi Christian-

I just tried to reply to your message on the blog and was unable to I get an error message. However, thank you for your reply- I am more than happy to share the specifics of our service with you. For our GreenDimes membership, we:

  1. Plant a tree a month for each member with one of our three tree-planting partners- American Forests, Sustainable Harvest International and Trees for the Future (all of whom you can learn about in the ‘partners’ section of our website).

  2. Process your name(s) and address for removal from roughly a dozen direct marketing lists. We have systems in place to verify whether or not these direct marketing organizations have actually honored our opt-out request and follow-up to ensure this happens.
    3) Mail each household a set of stamped, addressed postcards for you to sign and put in the mail. (this helps reduce unaddressed “residen” and “occupant” mail)

  3. We will opt you out of as many catalogs and “other” items that you ask us to. We consider “junk mail” to be credit card offers, insurance offers, sweepstakes offers and coupon mailers and we stop each of these automatically for all members. If there is something that you would like stopped that falls outside of what we consider to be “junk mail”, then we ask you to login to your account to submit a stop request for those items.

In addition to the items listed above, we are working toward implementing an improved feedback mechanism so our members can let us know which items they’are continuing to receive, if items need to be processed again, if items have stopped, etc. We care a great deal about making a difference in our member’s lives and will do whatever we can to make sure our service works for them. If something is or isn’t working for our members, we definitely want to know about it! We more than WELCOME feedback, good or bad.

I have a few screenshots of our member profile for you to look at. Just send me your email address and I will get those to you asap (they don’t copy and paste into this format). Take good care and thanks again for your interest in GreenDimes!

-Kendra www.greendimes.com

Gravatar for margot brown
Margot Brown
Note: This message was sent originally via my Email-Me page because I broke the comments earlier today. Since I had to reformat this, formatting errors are probably mine.
-docwhat

Hi,

We are also a legitimate company and pride ourselves in being in this business since 2001. We have been helping our subscribers opt out of postal junk mail successfully for 6 years.

Of course you may stop postal junk mail yourself and we encourage everybody to get out there and have a go at it! There are a number of things you must do in order to accomplish this. The first step is to go to the DMA Mail preference service which costs $1 per transaction and they will suppress your name for 5 years. The 2nd step is to opt out from the major credit card companies such as Experian, Equifax and Trans Union who will also suppress your name for 5 years. If you do it yourself you must be aware that it will take 2-3 mail cycles before you see a reduction in your junk mail, this is by no means an immediate process.

The hardest part of doing it yourself is continually calling catalogers, magazines, charities, banks, credit cards companies, Insurance and many other direct mailers to ask them to remove your name. But you must also ask for them not to rent or sell your name or you will be right back on those mailing lists! The process is a task that must be closely monitored and repeated as needed. Our service allows our subscribers to do this in one place plus we keep a record of what they have stopped so they can easily keep track of their work. We have over 10,000 researched direct mail companies in our database and it is always growing as subscribers tell us about new companies.

It is up to a consumer to decide whether they wish to join a service such as ours or go for it themselves.

We whole heartedly encourage both methods to reduce junk mail as in the long run we are all helping to decrease the waste of resources such as water and trees. Plus we are protecting our subscribers personal Information by allowing them to opt out in a more efficient manner.

We also guarantee that if our subscribers do not get the expected result we will happily refund their money and help them do it themselves.

Margot Brown www.stopthejunkmail.com

Gravatar for docwhat
docwhat

Kendra & Margot:

I wanted to thank both you for responding. I really appreciate your efforts.

:oops: I also wanted to apologize for breaking my comments box. I was upgrading the theme for my blog and I cut and paste something I shouldn’t have. I have marked it with a clear comment, so hopefully I won’t make this mistake again.

Meanwhile, I see that StopTheJunkMail.com actually has a screen shot for their interface at: http://www.stopthejunkmail.com/junkmailoptoutlearnmore.cfm

Kendra said she has some images which I offered to put up for people to see, unless they decide to add them to their FAQ.

I do have a question though. Why the donation to plant a tree, etc.? Is there some reason to do that in addition to just stopping or slowing down junk mail?

Again, I’m sorry about messing up my comments.

Ciao!

Gravatar for margot
Margot

Thanks Christian for posting my comments, accidents happen!

We really appreciate your directness and honesty in your post yesterday.

To address your “plant a tree” question… stopping junk mail = saving forests, but we wanted to do a little more.

We have been planting a tree for each new subscriber with American Forests Global ReLeaf projects, www.americanforests.org/global_releaf/projects, for a number of reasons.

Replanting means that our kids and future generations will have a place to enjoy the outdoors, can you imagine what it would be like if we had no place to mountain bike, ski, camp or hike? Planting trees can help reduce green house gases, help prevent soil errosion and regenerate habitats for our animals and birds. We try to do just a little bit to help and enpower others to get out there and do the same.

Thanks again. Margot

Gravatar for debbie
Debbie

Hi, I’m a co-founder of the 41 Pounds junk mail reduction service
www.41pounds.org. Thanks for initiating this great discussion about junk mail.
The 41 Pounds service reduces household junk mail by 85-90% and lasts for 5 years - at a cost of $8.20 per year ($41 total). We donate more than 1/3 of your fee to the nonprofit organization you select. We’ve already raised more than $45,000 for environmental and community organizations - including StopGlobalWarming.org, Trees for the Future, American Forests, New American Dream and Habitat for Humanity (East Bay).

About doing it yourself — yes, you can do all the leg-work yourself to remove yourself from all the direct mail and catalog lists out there, but it will take you quite awhile. We personally contact 20 to 35 direct marketing companies and catalog companies (only the ones your select) and instruct them to remove your name from their distribution lists. We provide you with pre-addressed, stamped postcards to mail yourself to the marketing companies that require a signature. And, you can contact us any time during your 5-year subscription period to add more household members to your service, report a change of address or a change in your name (got married?), add more catalogs to be blocked, etc. Our customers tell us it’s worth every cent.

Please go to www.41pounds.org and look at what others are saying about 41 Pounds to see just a few of the many letters and emails we receive from happy customers who are no longer dealing with the hassle of junk mail. You can also learn about the environmental and community organizations we’re donating to. If any questions remain, please feel free to contact me directly at any time, tim@41pounds.org Let’s all stop junk mail and save trees, water, energy, and time!

  • Tim
Gravatar for docwhat
docwhat

Hi Debbie!

How embarrassing. It seems that your sales message is signed Tim, and that you aren’t a founder!

I see the same message at

  1. http://www.psfk.com/2007/04/junk_mail_eco_a.html#c67926040
  2. http://www.treehugger.com/files/2007/04/41pounds_helpin.php#comment-134852
  3. etc.

Anyway…

Do you have any images of your web interface? How do you show your customers that you are doing what you say you are?

I had a specific concern, that someone with loose morals could create a junk-mail-stopping service and only do the minimal required, such as contacting ADVO and the DMA and pocket the rest of the money.

Ciao!

Gravatar for docwhat
docwhat

To give Kendra and Margot credit: They are not using a sales template, or if they are it is heavily customized to the point where I cannot find similar posts.

That alone would be a reason to like and trust them (and maybe their organization) more than Debbie (and her organization).

It’s the people — the personal touch — that makes a company. Good people rarely stay at bad organizations. If they do, they usually act like their company. If you spot good people, it usually is a good sign.

Ciao!

Gravatar for debbie
Debbie

Doc What:

Yes. That was embarrassing! I am working closely with Tim Pfannes, co-founder of 41 Pounds. My primary role is to help them to develop great fundraising partnerships with non-profits (Tim and his brothers donate more than 1/3 of each customer’s fee to partner organizations).

The founders of 41 Pounds are personally focused on taking their customers off of junk mail lists - and making that aspect of their service as high quality as possible. It’s not a small job, and they take their responsiblity to their customers very seriously. But, they are very interested in the conversations happening on blogs about their service (and others). I agreed to post some responses from Tim (which he and I crafted together and he approved) on some of the blogs that are discussing this issue. I will be honest, I am relatively new to blog-posting and realized after putting my name at the top of the posting and clicking on “submit comment” that this was not the best approach :) I’m learning!

However, I can assure you that the work that 41 Pounds is doing is top-quality, and their mission is simple: help communities, help the environment and donate substantial amounts of money to non-profits aligned with their mission and goals. I see many comments sent to Tim and his brothers on a regular basis from happy customers, as well as comments that were sent to 41 Pounds’ non-profit partners. As for showing customers the work they are doing through images online, that is something we can (and will) work on as we enhance the 41 Pounds website on an ongoing basis.

I hope this answers some of your questions, and I’ll be happy to answer any others you have, as will Tim and his brothers. These conversations are important to us. You can find us on the web at www.GreenWaveStrategies.com if you would like to know more.

Best, Debbie

Gravatar for greg nelson
Greg Nelson

To everyone,

USJunkmail.com has been helping consumers eliminate postal junk mail for over 3 years now. Many companies are legitimate; however, any company that specifically states that it will work on your behalf with regards to the DMA or other another organization is most likely misrepresenting what they can provide. Plain and simple, the DMA specifically states the following:

“How do I get off mailing lists? Use our online registration form. You must register your name and address with MPS directly; third party requests cannot be processed.”

As for companies that automatically bill you on behalf of the DMA frequently employ a procedure called “factoring”. This is a terrible term in the credit card industry. What this means is that a company cannot forward your cc information to another company without the other company’s prior approval and your approval. Some companies subtly slide this agreement into your contract; however, now your personal information has been freely distributed to a 3rd party marketing organization. Either way, policies and companies come and go, so you are best off following the proper procedures and protect your own identity.

Finally, watch out for the companies that state that they can do everything for you, but then a few months later, you will most likely begin receiving postcards that require your individual signature. What really happens is that they assume they can act on your behalf, but many direct mailers really are not interested in 3rd parties interfering with their databases.

www.USJunkmail.com states many of these facts clearly and for your full understanding. I have been with USJ for a few years now, and I can clearly see that they have properly researched the market. They conveniently direct you through the proper channels so that there is less likelihood of things not properly getting processed. The only other real reputable company I have seen in this industry is Stopthejunkmail.

Greg

Gravatar for sammy johnson
Sammy Johnson

GreenDimes.com - It looks like you all are running the scam yourselves. I have been a proud member of 41pounds.org for months now, and YES, I am really happy with their services. Why are you picking on them so much? Laurie David of www.StopGlobalWarming.org is FULLY supporting this company. She wouldn’t have gotten involved unless she knew what she was doing…right! I see you have Matt Damon on your Board of Directors. Good job! I hope he researched your company before getting involved with it. By the way, your CEO, Pankaj Shah, used to be with 4Info… correct? I now see that 4Info is sponsoring www.StopGlobalwarming.org, your 41pounds.org competitor. I guess it really is a small world.

Gravatar for kendra
Kendra

Hi there, Sammy-

I assure you that we are not running a scam and would encourage you to spend some time on our website. After that, if there are any additional questions I can help clear up for you, I am more than happy to do so.

I would also like to comment on the www.stopglobalwarming.org issue you bring up. 4info began supporting StopGlobalWarming in 2005, long before GreenDimes existed- which is beside the point. We are happy for everyone to work on reducing junk mail together. In case you are interested in reading more about their work together, here is a link to the press release from July, 2005:

http://www.4info.net/press/4INFOInc.PartnersWithFinancialContenttoDeliverFinancialMarketDataviaText_Messaging/4

It is indeed a small world, and one that we are very interested in making a better place. So thank you for taking interest in stopping your junk mail and please let me know if there is anything I can help you out with.

Take good care,

Kendra GreenDimes

Gravatar for greg
Greg

Kendra,

I was reading your response to Sammy up above, and started researching your site, also. You know what really bothers me other than your systems requiring consumers to send in postcards, what appears to be your blogging efforts to “defame” other companies according to others, and your company’s president historicals, also according to others… The funny coincidence that some of the text used on your GreenDimes.com web site is really similar to that used on USJunkmail.com, keeping in mind that USJunkmail.com was founded and launched prior to GreenDimes.com. I will continue my research and be certain to post along the way. Here is just a typical example, that was really easy to find because not too many companies really use the word “curb”. Oh, and I fully copied your site in its current state, so the prior original will be fully documentable in the event of subsequent changes. I am also notifying USJunkmail.com to conduct their own research.

USJunkmail.com’s Consumer Statement since 02/28/06:

”… the specific purpose of helping to curb, reduce or eliminate the receipt by Customer of certain unwanted mail, including direct, bulk or junk mail, at the above referenced address…” https://www.usjunkmail.com/member/SignUp2.aspx

GreenDimes.com Statement since 09/18/2006:

“Welcome to GreenDimes! GreenDimes, Inc. (“GreenDimes,” “we” or “us”) provides services intended to curb, reduce or eliminate the receipt of unwanted paper mail, including direct, bulk or junk mail (the “Services”) through…” http://www.greendimes.com/termsofservice

Gravatar for greg
Greg

Kendra,

That “coincidence” in paragraph bothered me so much that I recopied my complaint above onto www.ripoffreport.com. I see I am also NOT the 1st complaint on ripoffreport.com. You should take a look at the other ones. My only regret is that I referred to the company I am a sales rep with, USJunkmail.com. I can only assume the assaults will happen on them, shortly, even though to my readings they have ( 0 ) complaints so far, and that is after 1 1/2 years of operation. Pretty impressive. They also have thousands of happy sales reps, so I am sure their shoulders are broad enough for what may be coming. USJ is a terrific company with an outstanding record. And they also just made a statement recently that most likely will completely restructure the postal stop junk mail industry for free! But as always they will be taking care of us reps with some additional products, etc..

Gravatar for thomas
Thomas

Yes Greendimes.com appears to be a slick SCAM, trying to portray themselves as doing a great service. It look longer than promised to receive the post cards to sign and I only got four of them, the number you can make from one sheet of paper. I researched the topic of stopping junk mail and there are a few more than four major players that need a signature to opt-out. They also still asked me to go to the DMA’s site and opt-out there. Some catalog items I requested to stop over a month ago are still “pending”. If you want to remove catalogs, you can go to Catalogchoice.org.

Gravatar for rezzie dannt
Rezzie Dannt

While I appreciate the efforts of services like 41Pounds and GreenDimes, I can’t help but feel that they’re more bandaid than cure. What we need is a national Do Not Mail registry, similar to the wildly popular Do Not Call registry that Congress instituted in 2003.

I’m about to launch a grassroots campaign that involves sending thousands of boxes of junk mail to Capitol Hill. With enough people participating, we can convince Congress to stop unwanted junk mail once and for all.

Junk Mail Revolt (Launches May 12, 2008)

Gravatar for mike dowell
Mike Dowell

Some of these companies went out of business, there are some new companies like Goodbyejunkmail who get rid of junkmail for you.

Gravatar for sophie
Sophie

Well, I don’t work for any of these companies, or know anyone who does, so what you are about to read here is the honest experience of an average consumer. I happened upon a link to 41pounds.org on another website, and the concept sounded good to me. I consider my time to be worth money, so to me it was worth $41 to have someone else do the legwork and all I had to do was sign a few postcards. I never did receive those postcards, but about 24 hours after signing up, I did receive a fraud alert from my bank indicating suspicious charges on my card. Sure enough, my card had been used on a few websites, including an attempted money transfer on Western Union. Fortunately my bank is on the ball, and only one of these charges was approved; the others were halted, and the one that went through was refunded to me. I am not necessarily accusing anyone at 41pounds.org of fraudulent activity; perhaps it is simply that the security on their website needs improvement. This was a relatively new card, which I picked up directly from the bank and had not used for any other online purchases at the time, so I am confident the fraud was the result of using my card on the 41pounds.org website. And… I never did get those postcards.

Gravatar for deb krasner
Deb Krasner

Margot - I am glad to hear confirmation of StoptheJunkMail as a legit service; I began to worry about this after signing up for the service and discovering that the site isn’t secure - ?!?!?!?! That doesn’t seem wise in this day and age. It’s a real deal breaker - I’m hoping that you can get the site secured [now http > secure https] ASAP so I don’t have to cancel the service.

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