mailing list consumer tips

How Can You Restrict the Rental or Exchange of Your Name?

The American system of government places a high value on the right of its citizens to receive information and the right of businesses to provide information. Indeed, the First Amendment to the Constitution guarantees those rights. And many people enjoy and value advertising mail: 40% of the American population -- more than 80 million adults -- buy direct each year.

Yet, direct marketing companies recognize that some customers just don't like the idea of having their names and addresses shared with other companies. There are still other consumers who simply do not shop direct. Today, both preferences can be satisfied.

Many businesses (and the number keeps growing) that rent or exchange their customer lists will gladly remove a customer's name from those lists. Most companies clearly announce this service on their customer information pages or on the order form. The wording is different from one company to another, but the meaning is clear: they will abide by your wishes as a valued customer.

The wording that follows is fairly typical:

"Occasionally we make a portion of our mailing list available to carefully screened companies whose products or services we think might be of interest to you. If you prefer not to receive such mailings, please copy your mailing label exactly as it appears on the back of this catalog and send it to us at the address below."

Reputable direct marketing companies carefully screen the companies that they allow to use their lists. Nearly every direct marketer wants to protect his or her customers -- a company's most valuable asset -- from receiving something that might be annoying, offensive or ethically questionable. That's why reputable companies that rent their customer lists always require that the renter first submit a sample of his mailing for prior approval.

If you would like to receive less advertising mail, then you can contact the companies with whom you wish to continue doing business and ask them not to rent or exchange your name with other companies. In addition, you may also use The Direct Marketing Association's Mail Preference Service, which has been helping consumers limit the national advertising mail they receive since 1971.

The DMA Mail Preference Service (MPS)

The DMA Mail Preference Service will greatly reduce the amount of advertising mail a person receives from national marketers. You should realize that our MPS program will not eliminate all advertising mail, since not every direct marketing company participates in our service. To remove your name from smaller local mailers, you should contact them directly.

When you add your name and home address to the MPS file, we send it to participating direct marketing businesses four times a year. Companies that participate in the MPS program will match their lists against the MPS list and remove your name and home address from their lists so that you don't receive any direct mail from them, or from other companies that may rent their lists. Your name stays on the file for five years. It is important to note that all companies that are members of The DMA are required to use MPS, which is why you know that if you are buying from one of our members, they are likely to be a reputable direct marketing company.

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