Stopping the Catalog Avalanche

December 2, 2008
Special Feature

Several years ago, you ordered a holiday gift for your Aunt Martha from a catalog, and you’re still getting that catalog, even though you’ve never ordered from it again and probably never will.

Several years ago, you ordered a holiday gift for your Aunt Martha from a catalog, and you’re still getting that catalog, even though you’ve never ordered from it again and probably never will. Multiply that unwanted catalog by a 50 or so and you get a picture of the average consumer’s mailbox at holiday time. Getting merchants to stop sending those catalogs can be a hassle.

Whether your purpose is to save trees and protect the environment or just to avoid an overstuffed mailbox, there are some ways to curb the flow of unwanted mail. One option to get off catalog mailing lists is at Catalog Choice (www.catalogchoice.org), which lets you browse through a number of catalogs and pick the ones you no longer want to receive. If you want to get a particular catalog, on the other hand, you can also look at a selection of catalogs from merchants that have pledged to honor your mail preferences. The Direct Marketing Association has also launched DMAchoice (www.dmachoice.org), which lets you monitor the mail you receive and block what you don’t want.

Unfortunately, neither option is going to help much this holiday season. Catalog Choice advises that it may take up to 12 weeks before unwanted catalogs stop showing up in your mailbox. The DMA wants you to track your mail for 3 or 4 weeks to decide what sorts of direct mail you want and what you don’t want.