It is time for me to pass along an idea the Postmaster General has likely not floated in front of Congress yet. I believe it bears repeating, maybe on a larger scale and in a different forum, because we continue to see the United States Postal Service flounder in its attempt to stay afloat.
I have been doing a variation of this for years. Not because I don’t like USPS, but because I don’t like getting the junk mail that includes “Business Reply Mail” envelopes. Yes, I know, there is a list I can be put on that MAY eliminate some of the junk, but it feels like I shouldn’t have to do that. It should be an “opt in” automatically rather than an “opt out” by effort. My thoughts are, “If I want mail from your company, I would ask for it.” So, as a result, I guess this is my effort to “opt out.”
At first I started small. I figured if the “Postage will be paid by the addressee” then someone had to pay to get it to me so they are gonna have to pay to get it back!! I didn’t even bother to lick the envelopes. It was quick, simple even. Open junk, return junk (I took out all identifying paperwork of course). Then I got a little more evil about it! Someone somewhere has to open this stuff, right? The business thinks there is going to be paperwork in there that needs to be processed. I am going to make a mess on someone’s floor, or lap, or desk…didn’t matter, just that I wanted REVENGE! So, I began to take a little more time with the reply envelopes. I added glitter, confetti, hole punch dots (nothing dangerous or that could be perceived as dangerous so that I didn’t raise an alarm that didn’t need to be raised) to the inside of the envelope so that when it was opened – INSTANT mess. I was proud of myself. I patted myself on the back (that was a bit of a strain, let me tell you). But, eventually I realized my shenanigans were taking too much effort so I stopped adding the mess to the envelopes. I just decided I would add the non-identifying contents of the original mail to the reply and send it on its way, back to the offender of my mailbox gaiety.
The more I think about this (I don’t spend that much time on it, really) the more I think this might be a solution to the problems USPS has. We all should be sending this stuff back!! Bear with me and let me explain.
Who sends this junk out?
In most cases, if you think about all the unsolicited pieces of junk mail you get, it comes from a bank. Specifically, those big banks with giant credit card divisions. Those big banks with giant credit card divisions that make billions of dollars each year. If they make that much money, they can afford (obviously) to send out all this junk we don’t want. If they can afford to send it out, they can afford to get it back! See where I am going with this? If not, keep reading. They, the big bank with giant credit card divisions, don’t expect to get all the BRM back. They pay the USPS a fee based on the possible amount of return mail. If you don’t send the envelope back, there is no cost to them. If a small percentage sends the envelope back, they pay a fee according to that and if it contains a means to make more money, well all the better for them.
Then there are those catalogs and other mass marketing material. The cost to send these out is different because of size and weight. We don’t see as much of this as we used to, but it is still fairly prevalent for some industries.
Junk already keeps USPS afloat!
I did a little internet search to see how much junk mail was mailed each year. I found out that more than half of the mail processed each year by the USPS is junk mail. See that article from 2011. From the article, you can tell that if there were no junk mail in your mailbox the USPS would be loosing even more money each year than it already is. In fact, you could probably make a safe assumption that it might not even exist today. So, if junk mail is already more than half of the of the USPS’s business, sending more junk mail would continue to support our beloved former Pony Express. Send it back!
Also, while doing this little internet research, I found there are some really misguided solutions to junk mail. I have to say that ending junk mail altogether is admirable, but unrealistic. Besides, that would hurt business and who cares about the environment, really. However, if you are into that sort of thing, you might be interested in this guy’s article.
Dear Postmaster General,
If you would like to save the postal service and keep Saturday delivery, which you seem very reluctant to eliminate anyway, then listen up. The following could save your business.
- Raise the price for bulk, mass mailings. If a business finds it valuable to send out all that junk, then they will continue to send it out, regardless of the cost. If they don’t find it valuable, they won’t send it out. My guess, they keep sending it out.
- Raise the cost of Business Reply Mail. If a business finds it valuable to send out all that junk, then they will continue to send it out, regardless of the cost. And, if they are able to generate business from said junk, then it should cost them more to include and have those BRM envelopes returned to them. A lot more! Even if they figure a small percentage will be returned it should still be a pricey endeavor.
- Be more efficient. That is a whole other topic for another day.
How can you, dear reader, do your part?
RETURN MORE JUNK MAIL! It costs them money to send it to you and it should cost them money to get it back. In the meantime, you save the USPS. I see this as a win win for all involved.
PS: Apparently junk mail is also a problem for other nations, including my UK readers. (see here) You too could make a difference!