Big business needing to save money? Stop mailing the freebies

If you are an adult and are still breathing, then chances are you’ve received something in the mail that you did not request. Every single day my mailbox is loaded with requests for my business with everything from credit card offers and election propaganda to requests for donations and sale flyers.
I shudder to think just how many trees had to die for one person’s junk mail in a year. Then you multiply that by the billions who receive the junk mail and you know why our environment is in such dire shape, not to mention the broken business world.
I receive at least one credit card request per day, as does my husband. “You’ve been approved….” is what greets you when you open the envelope, when in fact, you haven’t been approved – you’ve been “pre-approved.” Either the company purchased your information from a clearinghouse or somewhere, somehow, you checked a box when making a purchase online or signing up for a credit card, indicating you wanted to receive notices or was permitting the company to share your information.
With the credit crunch the world is in today, perhaps the requests for signing up for yet another credit card with a teaser to “transfer your credit balances today” will slow down or stop altogether. Most of us can’t afford to charge another item or incur another debt.
If you look closely at rates on credit cards, they are often advertised at great interest rates only to find that they are as temporary as the first three to six months or that they shoot up if you are just one day late with a payment. Since credit cards have become deregulated, companies are free to hold your payment in a clearinghouse for however long they wish – usually until after the payment is due, thus incurring a late fee that they are legally permitted to charge the consumer. Some truly reputable companies do not do this, but most others do.
One way to stop the heavy flow of credit card requests is to open the envelope, black out your name, address and any UPC codes or other “pertinent-to-you” codes/information and stuff every piece of the insert in the return envelope, which is usually postage free, and mail it back to the vendor. Let them throw the junk mail in their own trash. This has worked for me even with blacking out the personal information on the returned papers.
Then there are the donation requests, labeled “as you requested.” As Christians we are taught to tithe – to give unto others. Yet even here we have to be cautious about whom we donate to. With the vast online resources available to most anyone, it is best to utilize this to research the validity of an organization prior to making a donation – or donate only to local charities that you personally know. Again, there has to be a better way to request a donation instead of spending money on address labels and other freebies that are stuffed into the request envelopes. I have received enough address labels from no less than 20 different charities over the past few months to last me years. These labels cost money to manufacture and mail. I have also received Indian dreamcatchers, notepads, bookmarks, keychains and have even received a set of rosary beads every week for the last month in an effort to get me to donate to a specific charity.
How much money would these charities have in their coffers if they didn’t spend it on “stuff” they try to entice the public’s donations with? We are taught that “it is better to give than to receive,” so it shouldn’t be necessary to coerce someone into donating by offering free stuff that usually ends up being thrown away and costs endless sums of money.
My heart melts with every photo of every starving child on a reservation, in a homeless shelter, or in a foreign land. I’d like to give to every single one. Yet I have to question the integrity of a charity that spends so many dollars on mailing out free stuff to thousands of people. Why isn’t the money that is going into printing the freebies going into the mouths of the starving? I have worked with charities before and understand that many items often get donated in order to sell/raffle off to possible donors. However, the stuff that gets sent in the U.S. mail in the thousands of quantities is useless and money wasted.
Getting off of a mailing list is more difficult than squeezing into your 20-year-old skinny jeans. Even dying doesn’t help. My father died six years ago and we still can’t get him off of the freebie and charity mailing lists despite providing letters and copies of death certificates. If we were to supply these places with the mailing address, plot and section number of the cemetery, they’d simply send the requests there!
Another way companies try to get you to purchase items you don’t need or wouldn’t seek out to begin with is to offer something free if you are the first 50 to respond to the offer. Think about it – if they sent that request to 10,000 people, that means at least half that amount probably jumped on the offer in order to be the first 50 to respond, that doesn’t give anyone very good odds on winning the free gift. How do we know we’re not in the first 50? How do we know the first 50 actually get the free gift? We don’t know. It is just a lure to get people to spend money they wouldn’t normally spend.
As a country we sure can cut back on the unnecessary “stuff.” From book clubs to ordering DVDs or CDs online. Each of us is capable of sitting down and looking around our homes at the abundance we have and simply cut back. My Dad who lived through the depression and watched his father lose everything in the crash of ’29 always said, “Buy what you need – not what you want.”

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