Stop the Presses

Catalog Choice gives you a chance to opt out of all those unwanted catalogs before the holidays hit.©

The service may not rid us of the political fliers clogging our mailboxes on a daily basis, but Catalog Choice still offers an easy way to reduce unwanted mail. Lots of companies have agreed to honor requests from consumers to not receive their catalogs, including Coach, Anthropologie, Pottery Barn Kids, The Land of Nod, the ubiquitous Victoria’s Secret, and thousands of others that are probably coming to your mailbox like clockwork each month because you once ordered a present online and had your identity shopped out to any and all related companies.

Catalog Choice lets you log in, check off any companies to stop catalogs from coming, and track it all online. The basic service is free, but for a $20 donation they offer a more intensive Unlisting Service in which they go beyond the company catalogs to the third-person marketing companies that are selling your information. "The default privacy setting for direct marketing in the U.S. is set to "share all" for your personal information," says Chuck Teller, executive director of Catalog Choice. "Taking control means proactively getting your name unlisted. This process is challenging and time consuming for most individuals since marketing material comes from sources they never see and can’t track themselves."

The organization—which receives funding from the Overbrook Foundation, Merck Family Fund, Kendeda Fund, Goldman Fund, Weeden Foundation and others—has also been instrumental in efforts to reduce unwanted phone book catalogs, a huge paper waste and annoyance in the digital age. They’ve added telephone directories to their service, and are celebrating a couple recent phone-book-reduction victories. Seattle just passed the nation’s first municipal opt-out ordinance for phone books; and Verizon in New York received approval to stop printing residential white pages in their phone books (the company found via a survey that only 11% of households used those listings in 2008). Those 11% can call the company to opt-in if they want to keep their old-school phone book listings.

SOURCE: Catalog Choice