A bunch of us were standing around the water cooler discussing this weekend football game results. Some how, the subject of our conversation moved from football to gambling to junk mail. One of my co-workers made the statement that he was tired of getter postal junk mail and he wished he could do something about it. That’s when Stumpy McDermitt interjected that he had an answer to the problem. Stumpy works in my company’s sales and marketing division and is always coming up with brilliant, cutting edge, out-of-the-box solutions to everyday problems. “Send them back, that is what I do” said Stumpy. “Pray tell, Stumpy,” I said “how do you do that?”
Stumpy told everyone to look for the letters from companies that have a postage-paid return envelope. “Take everything that they sent to you and put it back in the envelope, then drop the letter back in the postal mail box. The sending company will have to pay for the return postage. In addition, if the envelope is more than ¼” thick, they have to pay $0.60 verses $0.37 when the envelope is delivered to them. So I fold up the contents such that it is very thick prior to placing it in the envelope. If the envelope will not seal, I put a piece of scotch tape across the back to hold it shut. Sometimes, just for fun I place the contents of from vendors that do not include a postage-paid envelope into a different vendor that DID send a postage-paid envelope. The key is to get the weight of the envelope up. The more the envelope weighs the more the original sender has to pay when he or she gets it back.”
Janey asked Stumpy if the amount of junk mail that that he received had been reduced. “Not at first,” he replied “These credit card and magazine companies are not very smart. It took more than two dozen envelopes being sent back to just one credit card company before they took me off their mailing list. It most likely cost them over $15 in return postage before they figured it out.” Stumpy said that over the last three years he returned, on average, five envelopes a day; after that the amount of mail he received was reduced. “I try to get each letter to weigh at least three ounces, so it cost these companies about $4000 in return postage plus the time it took to open the envelopes. Just think, if everyone did this it would cost these companies over 2 billion dollars a year in return postage!”
Cheryl said that Stumpy had too much time on his hands and that he was creating more work for the post office employees. Stumpy replied that by returning this mail he was creating revenues and jobs for the United States Postal Service. “It is good for the economy,” he said. Rita stated that he was wasting resources by using so much paper. Stumpy replied that the original sender was the one that “killed the trees” when they sent the mailing. If they were responsible, the company would be recycling the paper.
Bart asked what Stumpy did with the mail that did not have return envelopes such as finance and mortgage companies and magazines. “Well,” started Stumpy “you simply cannot write ‘return to sender’ on a magazine. It is shipped at a special rate and the USPS just destroys it if you return it. So I use Form 1500.”
Stumpy explained that form 1500 was good for returning unwanted sexually oriented advertisements coming through the mail to your home or business. But back in the 1970s, the Supreme Court ruled that the form can be used for any type of mail. In fact, Stumpy quoted the following from the USPS Postal Bulletin 21977:
The prohibitory order. This order aids in protecting customers from receiving pandering advertisements through the mail. An addressee may obtain a prohibitory order against the mailer of an advertisement that the addressee determines, in his or her sole discretion, to be offering matter for sale that is erotically arousing or sexually provocative, as defined in title 39, United States Code, 3008. Postmasters may not refuse to accept a Form 1500 because the advertisement in question does not appear to be sexually oriented. Only the addressee may make that determination. The order prohibits the mailer from sending any further mail to the applicant effective on the 30th calendar day after the mailer receives the order.
“Basically”, said Stumpy, “I have legal rights. The form entitles me to pursue criminal action against any mailer if they continue to send me junk mail after a 30-day grace period.”
Nobody said a word for over 60 seconds. Finally John asked “you mean that you can return a credit card application as sexually explicit mail?” Stumpy said yes, however he would rather refer to the mail as pandering instead of sexual explicit. “I just attach the opened mail to the completed Form 1500 and give it to any post office. They cannot refuse it and the must process it. At first I received questions, stares, and outright defiance. But once each employee found out it was the law and that they could lose their job by not complying, everyone was very nice about it.”
Nigel asked Stumpy if he ever filed legal action against a business that continued to send him mail even after they were notified to stop. Stumpy replied “No, I have not. No business has been brainless enough to challenge the law.”
Ol’ Stumpy walked away from the water cooler a bit taller that day… and we fellow employees walked away a bit wiser (or amused, or miffed or what ever).
For the record:
• Stumpy is 6’2″ tall.
• No trees were destroyed & and no squirrels were injured through the writing of this article.