How to Stop Junk Mail by Sending it Back
Coming home to a mailbox full of junk mail every day can be seriously frustrating. If it seems like the constant barrage of credit card offers and insurance promotions is never going to end, it may be time to take action. Sending back the mail to the companies that sent it can often be an effective way to handle the problem, though it may take a couple of tries to get their attention.
Using Return to Sender
Leave envelopes unopened.It’s frustrating enough to get junk mail, such as credit card offers and charity donation requests, everyday, but having to open them to send them back just makes the process more tedious. Instead, leave the mail alone, so it remains just as you received it.
Write “Return to Sender” on the envelopes.When a piece of a mail is marked in such a way, the post office will send the item back to its original source. If the company that’s sending you the junk mail receives the correspondence back, it will hopefully get message that you don’t wish to receive any more mail in the future. Make sure to write in clear, legible print, so the message is easy to read.
- When you’re marking the envelope, it’s a good idea to use a felt tip marker that won’t smear if it gets wet.
- If your handwriting is difficult to read, you may want to use block letters to ensure that the “Return to Sender” message is clear.
Drop it in the mail.Once you write “Return to Sender” on your junk mail, there’s no need to add postage. Simply place it in the mail as you would with any other item that you wish to send through the postal service.
- You can place the junk mail that you wish to return in a mailbox, but it’s usually better to hand it to your mail carrier or take it directly to the post office. That’s because if it goes through the automated system without a worker doesn’t specifically seeing the “Return to Sender” message on the mail, it may wind up back in your mail a few days later.
Writing a Note
Open the envelopes.If you’ve tried sending your junk mail back via a “Return to Sender” message, and it still keeps turning up in your mailbox, you may need to take a more direct approach to get it to stop. That means you’ll need to open the junk mail, so you can sort through the items in each envelope.
- If you get a lot of junk mail, opening up the envelopes can be an annoying process. You may want to collect it on a weekly basis and open it all in one sitting instead of doing it each day.
Gather the pre-paid return envelopes.When it comes to junk mail such as credit card offers and charity donation requests, the companies usually include a return envelope with pre-paid postage, so you can return the credit application, charity donation, or other requested item. After you’ve opened the mail, set aside all of the return envelopes, so you can correspond with the company without paying for postage.
Write a note.Even if you’ve sent previous correspondence back “Return to Sender,” your name still might not come off the company’s mailing list. Making a written request that you stop receiving the mail may be necessary to put an end to the correspondence.
- Be polite but firm in the note. Don’t resort to foul or abusive language.
- If you’re not sure what to write, try something simple like “Please remove me from your mailing list. I do not wish to receive any future offers/solicitations, etc.”
- Make sure to include your name and mailing address on the note because your contact information will not be on the pre-paid return envelope.
Mail it back.Because you’re using the pre-paid envelope, there’s no need to add any postage to the note. You can drop it in any mailbox or leave it for your mail carrier to pick up when he makes the next delivery.
Stuffing the Envelope
Gather pre-paid return envelopes.Just as when you’re writing a note to ask a company to stop sending correspondence, you want to take advantage of the envelopes that they include for you to send items back, so you don’t have to pay for postage.
- You may want to save multiple return envelopes from the same company or organization. The more that you send back to them, the more likely they are to notice.
Collect some junk to stuff in the envelopes.If a note asking a company to stop sending junk mail doesn’t get your name off their mailing list, you may want to make more of a statement. Stuffing the pre-paid envelope with items from around the house makes it weigh more, so the company has to pay more when you send it back to them, which will hopefully make them think twice about sending you junk mail.
- Stuffing the envelopes with paper items, such as napkins, newspaper or magazine clippings, a deck of cards, or confetti, is usually the easiest way to go.
- Stuff the envelopes until they can’t hold any more material. If you’re worried that they won’t stay shut, you may want to reinforce the closure with tape.
Send the envelopes back.It’s best to drop them in a mailbox because they’ll be sorted by an automated system. A mail carrier or post office clerk might notice an extra thick envelope, and throw it away, so it may not actually get back to the company.
QuestionThe post office clerk says the mail carriers are not required to pick up " return to sender" mail. What should I do?Top AnswererEven if that were true -- it's not -- you still have a good option: obscure your address on the envelope, obscure any barcode printed on the envelope or inside the envelope's window, write "return to sender" on the front, and drop it in any mail-collection box.Thanks!
QuestionI blacked out our name and address with felt tip pen and put in a mail box at the post office and they still ended up being sent back to me! I am so frustrated, what else can I do?Top AnswererMost mail is sorted by barcode-reading machines these days. In addition to lining out your name and address with ink, completely obliterate the first inch or so of the barcode below your address on (or in) the envelope before returning it to the post office. (Simply crossing out the barcode will not work: the machines can still read it.) If it's first-class mail, be sure to write "Return to sender" on the front of the envelope, too.Thanks!
QuestionIf this is so easy, then how do I get to stop unwanted emails I get in Junk and Trash?Top AnswererMany emails come with an "Unsubscribe" option somewhere in the message. Clicking on "Unsubscribe" may result in your being removed from their mailing list.Thanks!
- If you are still receiving junk mail, you may want to contact the Direct Marketing Association (DMA). They can put you on a list that allows you to opt out of unsolicited mail from many companies for five years.
- There are other free, online services, such as ProQuo, that can help you remove your contact information from some of the most commonly used direct marketing mailing lists.
- If unsolicited catalogs are a problem, Catalog Choice is a free service that can help get your name off many catalog mailing lists.
- You can also use pay subscription services, such as 41pounds.org or Green Dimes, that contact direct marketing companies on your behalf to stop the flow of coupons, credit card offers, magazine offers, sweepstakes entries, catalogs, and other items into your mailbox.
- To stop junk mail before it starts, be careful about giving out your contact information. Don’t enter too many sweepstakes or send back product warranty cards that don’t require proof of purchase. Limit the number of store rewards programs that you sign up for as well.
- When overstuffing a business reply envelope, do not exceed the 3.5 ounce limit for letters. Any weight over 3 ounces, say 3.1 ounces, will incur the maximum postage!
- Make sure to sort through your mail carefully. Sometimes, an important piece of mail can get mixed in with junk items, and you can accidentally throw away an item that you need.
- Affixing pre-paid envelopes to a box in order to send a heavy item, such as a brick or chunk of cement, to drive up the mailing costs for the company isn’t a good method for getting a company to stop sending junk mail. The post office is allowed to throw away packages that use an improper pre-paid label, so your “statement” probably won’t be delivered.
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