JUNK MAIL TRADE ASSN. DOWNSIZES
The Direct Marketing Association’s (DMA) mission is advocacy for responsible marketing, something they call “The Power of Direct.” The statement goes on to cover a number of benefits offered to its membership like research, education and networking opportunities to improve their junk mail. If they are really looking for improvement, the DMA should be the leader in finding out just how to get rid of the 98 percent which is junk mail and ends up in the trash.
By the way, the vast consumer population who make junk mail purchases—about 60 million households nationwide—does receive attention from the trade group, but not the kind the DMA’s more than 3,600 members get. It is a trade association paid by these some 3,600 junk mailers to keep the market free from regulation of an ultra secretive industry. So where are the advocates for these 60 million households that buy direct? We are out there, like The Dunning Letter, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, Green Dimes, Junkbusters, and more. So why isn’t this enough?
Because Congress, the states and the media look to the DMA to tell them what, if anything, is wrong with junk mail. In my opinion the DMA has never really leveled with the public about the collecting and selling of consumer names and personal data. The DMA’s mail preference list is a joke since only its small membership is required to use it. There are thousands of junk mailers out there that aren’t members, including some major mailers.
A couple of years ago I challenged the DMA president to allow consumers in to the Chicago annual convention to ask list and data brokers just what they were doing with our names and private information. Not even the courtesy of an answer. In checking the DMA’s site, you will find a proliferation of figures including how junk mailers spent $173.2 million plying their trade in 2007, but you won’t find any mention anywhere of the $4 billion that is made annually by the list business from selling your sensitive data.
What this is all leading up to is the fact that the Direct Marketing Assn. has recently announced it will layoff from 18 to 21 workers. And you say…what difference does that make to me? From my 35 years experience in junk mail, it sounds like consumer protection, already inadequate, will suffer even more by the release of a key employee, James F. Conway, vice president and counsel for corporate and social responsibility. Conway was responsible for the DMA’s “Commitment to Consumer Choice (CCC)" program, an initiative requiring that members practice new, higher standards of corporate responsibility.
It would appear that junk mail customers will just have to sit back and take the hand they are dealt, that is until they are willing to stand up to this industry and federal regulators and say they’re tired of this treatment and won’t take it anymore.