By Brian O’Connell, The Street
NEW YORK (TheStreet) — Last year, Americans were sent about 84 billion pieces of junk mail, according to the U.S. Post Office, and they have apparently had enough.
Cities such as Chicago and Seattle have established “Do Not Mail”
registries, similar to the popular “Do Not Call” initiative, to block companies form sending junk mail to consumers who sign up.
The campaigns are a big hit with consumers.
In fact, 81% of Americans “across all ideologies, age groups and income levels” support them, according to a study on privacy and advertising mail from the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law.
Frustration with mailboxes cluttered with fliers and catalogs has
finally caught up with junk mail companies, and it’s been a long time
coming, study researchers say, as junk mail makes up about 50% of all
mail delivered in the U.S. today.
“Our survey is in line with consumer polls conducted over the
last four decades that reflect a frustration with advertising mail,”
says co-author Chris Hoofnagle, a Berkeley Law lecturer and director of
information privacy programs at the law school.
“Americans may view advertising mail as a privacy issue because
of database activities underlying the targeting of mail,” says study
co-author Jennifer M. Urban, assistant professor of law at Berkeley.
“They also may dislike the sense of intrusion created when advertising
material flows into the home.”
Hoofnagle and Urban say one big obstacle to Do Not Mail
initiatives is the U.S. Postal Service, which has lost “tens of billions
of dollars” in recent years, and on average, loses $57 million per day,
and as a result is “courting” direct marketing companies (the primary
purveyors of junk mail) to send more mail.
“The USPS’ fiscal challenges have created incentives for the
agency that directly contravene recipients’ desire to manage advertising
mail,” Urban says. “The Postal Service has created many innovations to
help advertisers increase mail volume, but it’s done little to assist
Americans manage unwanted advertising mail.”