Are you finding more and more junk mail on your doorstep? You're not alone. Royal Mail's admitted that it delivered almost 50,000 more flyers every day in the year after it was privatised.
Figures quoted in the Daily Mail show that Royal Mail delivered almost 3.2 billion items of unaddressed marketing mail during the year - almost twice as much as five years ago. It's making £3 million a day from the junk.
Earlier this month, Royal Mail launched a campaign to persuade marketers of the value of direct mail.
"When we're constantly being told the world is only interested in digital, mail is opened, mail is read and mail is kept – 17 days for addressed mail, 38 days for unaddressed," campaign manager David Prideaux, executive creative director at Publicis Chemistry, told the Guardian.
"For all the talk of junk mail, 57% of people say mail makes them feel more valued – not surprising when someone has taken the trouble to write to them."
But there's no doubt that, for many householders junk mail is a serious annoyance. It's also a danger to the environment, as much is binned rather than recycled.
"Junk mail is a pest," says Robert Rijkhoff of the Stop Junk Mail campaign. "It's a wasteful, outdated and rude form of advertising, and one that's surprisingly difficult to eradicate."
How to put a stop to junk mail depends on whether it's addressed or unaddressed, who delivered it and whether you've given permission for it to be sent - usually by failing to tick or untick a box when buying online.
With as much as half of all unaddressed junk mail delivered by Royal Mail, registering with its opt-out service can have a big effect. Be warned, though, that mail addressed to 'the occupier' will still get through. There's more information here.
If an organisation is sending mail addressed to you, you can opt out through the Mail Preference Service. This won't stop you receiving marketing mail that you've requested, from charities, for example. Nor, unfortunately, will it stop you from receiving un-addressed leaflets, mail addressed to 'the occupier' or free newspapers.
You can also contact companies individually, asking them to stop sending you mail, under the Data Protection Act 1998: the Information Commissioner's Office has a sample letter here.
And as a final resort, where there's a return address, you could try returning junk mail to the sender, marked 'unsolicited mail'. The sender will have to pay the return postage - and will probably get the message and remove you from their list.
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