As a follow-up to how to stop balance transfer checks, here’s all I know about stopping unwanted paper catalogs. Direct mail catalogs are like weeds. You unsubscribe from a bunch of them, but then later you buy someone a cast iron skillet and then – poof! – you get Sur La Table catalogs. I don’t need three different kitchen tools to remove strawberry stems, trim brussels sprouts, or cut grapes in half. I have a paring knife and opposable thumbs!
Unfortunately, there is no standardized way to unsubscribe from all or specific catalogs. Here’s what is available:
Catalog Choice. This appears to be the most up-to-date and thorough website, although you’ll have to do most of the work. Run as a non-profit that is unaffiliated with the direct marketing industry, CatalogChoice.org serves as a database that helps guide you on how to manually unsubscribe from various catalogs. They used to offer something call the Mail Stop Envelope that let you mail them the address labels from your unwanted catalogs, but they discontinued the service. They also used to have an app called Mail Stop Mobile, but that is also gone. Sigh.
National Do Not Mail List. You can add your mailing address to the National Do Not Mail List run by DirectMail.com here.
We can use our vast direct marketing expertise to get your name off of those lists. As direct marketers ourselves, we know that mail-order companies don’t want to waste their money sending mail to people who don’t want to receive it.
DMAChoice.org. This is the big one. According to their website, “DMAChoice.org is an online tool developed by the Direct Marketing Association to help you manage your mail.” However, the Consumerist warns us that Direct Marketing Association’s Opt Out Website Is A Joke and may not fulfill its promises. While writing this post, their website didn’t even load half the time. It’s still worth a shot.
Paper Karma app. I discovered Paper Karma a couple years ago, but I never could really tell if it worked or not since it takes months for catalogs to actually stop coming. The app store reviews indicate hit or miss success as well. Recently, I received reports that new users were being asked to pay $20 per year. That’s too bad as the fact that you just take a smartphone picture of the address label makes it so appealing. I just snapped another address label picture using their app (December 2016) and it went through without asking me to pay, but perhaps I am in some sort of grandfathered free account (or they give out a certain number of freebies?). If you can get it to work for free, this may also be worth the effort.