Thu, 30 Nov 2006

Don't Throw Away Your Junk Mail

Last month, I tried to alleviate the flood of junk mail I receive my not removing it from my mailbox. The idea was that the mailman would get the hint that I don't want it, and would stop stuffing it in my mailbox. I suppose it could have been easily predicted that such a tactic would be unsuccessful. If I were to eat at the same restaurant on a regular basis, and I always left the pickle on the plate, the server might notice that I don't want the pickle and stop bringing it to me. The mail carrier's job, unlike the waiter's, isn't to please me.

Despite the fact that that my junk mail may be addressed to "Postal Customer", I am in fact not the customer while in the role of junk mail recipient. Rather, I am the victim of one organization taking money from another company to bring me garbage. Although I wasn't able to quickly solve my problem, my little experiment showed that I was not completely helpless in working to eliminate this annoyance.

About two weeks after I stopped removing the junk from my mailbox, the mailman asked why I wasn't taking the mail out. I told him that I was hoping he would stop delivering it. He said that it was hurting his wrist, having to shove in new mail. I told him that I didn't appreciate having to carry it up to my apartment to throw it away, and then have to carry it back out to the dumpster. He said, "I'm not going to argue with you," and refused to discuss it further.

So, keeping the junk mail in the mailbox at least provided the right disincentive to delivery of the mail. If I could just get another 20 million "customers" to also leave their junk mail in their mailbox, the mail carriers would either complain to their superiors, demanding higher wages, or face increasing medical costs due to sore wrists, which would have to eventually be passed to the real customers.

Unfortunately, I didn't have enough time to wait for the junk mail revolution to take hold, for my mailbox would soon be full and I wouldn't be able to receive my weekly copy of The Economist. There had to be another way.

Next to the mailboxes in our apartment complex, there's a note that says that the mailman would appreciate if we didn't put junk mail in the outgoing mailbox. Well, that certainly makes sense. If my job were to say have a dog crap on other people's lawns, I'd appreciate it if they not return it to my home. But you can't blame the poopee for refusing deliveries by the pooper.

I looked up the relevant regulations on refusing mail. Section 508.1.1.3 of the USPS Domestic Mail Manual states that basically any piece of mail can be refused by marking it "Refused".

So I took all of the junk out, wrote Refused on it, and stuck it in the outbox. The next day the mailman removed it from the outbox and left it on top of the mailboxes. It sat there for two or three days before he re-delivered it to my mailbox. I contacted the USPS through the form on their website to let them know that the mailman was re-delivering refused mail. I received a semi-personal email a few hours later telling me that a case had been opened, and that I would receive a phone call by the end of the next business day. They were only one day late, but I received a call on Tuesday. I explained what happened and was told that mailman would be spoken to.

I waited a couple days to give them time to talk to the mailman, and today re-refused the original mail as well as other junk mail that has since been delivered.

Please join the fight to stop junk mail by refusing delivery of it. By doing so, you provide a disincentive to its delivery, and put the burden of disposal on the junk couriers.

If you are feeling especially ambitious and are willing the enter the den of evil, you can take copies of junk mail from each individual sender down to the local post office with form 1500 and get a prohibitory order against each. You will have to file a separate form for each piece of junk mail that you would like blocked, and although the form is meant to block sexually oriented mail, they may not refuse to accept your form because you seem particularly prudish. Check out the excellent Junk Busters page for more information.

misc | Comments | Permanent Link

Sat, 04 Nov 2006

Amazon aStore

A few months ago, Amazon introduced aStore, which allows associates to create their own Amazon store. It's a cool idea, but unfortunately, the current version is pretty limited in fuctionality. The store creator can only pick nine featured products sold by Amazon to display in the store. Categories of goods to be sold through the store can also be selected, but with only limited control over which products show up within these categories through the use of keywords.

For the nine featured products, the store builder can write a little description, but it would be nice if the products displayed the seller's product ratings, comments, etc.

Anyway, here's my store.

business | Comments | Permanent Link

The state is that great fiction by which everyone tries to live at the expense of everyone else. - Frederic Bastiat