Catalog Choice

posted by harlie in home

When we moved, we did all the usual things that movers have to do — send out cards to family and friends, transfer utilities, update contact info with banks and credit cards, notify doctors and insurance companies, and forward our mail. Unfortunately for us, the previous owners haven’t bothered to do that last thing on that list. And possibly a few other things on that list. At least, we’re pretty sure they haven’t. Even after all this time, we’re still getting credit card statements, health insurance updates, even Social Security and tax refund checks! Of course, we’ve sent all these things back unopened and we’re slowly getting fewer and fewer of these mailings.

The worst, though, has been the catalogs. Dear lord, THE CATALOGS! I personally loathe unsolicited catalogs. Just because I bought one item from your store or website doesn’t mean I want to get inundated with your entire store selection. Honestly, I’m not just saying that. However, the previous owners must have been serious catalog shoppers. Plus, they never cancelled any of the previous, previous owners’ catalogs either. Since we moved in, I’ve had to cancel over 150 subscriptions! There have been days where we could barely get the mail out of our mailbox, it was so tightly packed in (our mail-carrier is quite talented, it would seem).

I was spending way too much time calling up companies, waiting for the next available customer service agent, and then spelling out my name, address and customer number for them. Then, of course, you still have to wait three months before being sure it worked (because they print their catalogs 2-3 months in advance).

To streamline the process and help me keep track of what companies I’ve called about which addressee and customer number, I’ve been using Catalog Choice since early September. It’s been pretty great so far! We’re finally getting a bit less junk mail (we’re just now getting to the two-month mark since our first cancellations) and when we do get catalogs, I can lookup if I’ve already opted to cancel, so I’m not bothering AGAIN about something I’ve already dealt with. Even better, I can sit down at my computer and opt-out of 10 mailings in less time than it took me to call and cancel one via the phone. That’s a huge time savings for me!

They don’t have every company available through this service, but they have most of the biggies and quite a few obscure companies. And if you can’t find a company you want to opt out from, you can always request they be contacted to join the list. So far, though, I’ve only found maybe 2 companies the site didn’t recognize, so their list is pretty impressive. Oh! and, for a feel-good factor, it keeps a tally of the estimated environmental impact you’re making.

My understanding is that all the companies listed with Catalog Choice associate themselves with it voluntarily, and most of them have been extremely responsive with confirmation emails. Yet, some other companies make it hard to unsubscribe anyhow. Ethan Allen and Oriental Trading Company in particular have been a pain in my tuckus. They require you go to their website and fill out a whole different form, which wouldn’t be too bad except that they require WAY more information about you (why? I want you to leave me alone!) and sometimes move the URL of that form, so it’s not always up-to-date on Catalog Choice. Cuddledown is also annoying — I’ve cancelled a subscription with them three times: all the same name, but different customer numbers. Grrrrr… These companies have made me want to have nothing to do with them. Ever.

Of course, I’ve been using the free aspect of this website. If you want to be even more aggressive about stopping unwanted mailings, they have a service called MailStop (which appears to be currently suspended for updates). I’m not sure how much they charge, but I’ve been quite happy with the free service so far, so I’m just sticking with that.

Despite a few problematic outliers, the service seems to be working. I’m hoping that now that we’re getting into the new year, we’ll have significantly fewer catalogs to deal with. I’m so excited! Of course, we’re still getting fliers from realtors who want to help the former owners sell our house, but they have to give up eventually…don’t they?

† Well, technically, we’re still in the process of sending out these, but we have done a few.

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