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Page last updated at 15:03 GMT, Thursday, 6 October 2005 16:03 UK

How to junk junk mail

Gillian and Adrian
What about a sticker on your door?
A number of viewers have complained to us that whatever they've tried, the post keeps on coming.

There is an easy, and free, way to let companies know that you do not want to be included in their direct marketing campaigns.

You can join 2.4 million others in registering your name with the Mailing Preference Service.

It takes up to four months to reach full effect, but you should notice a gradual dropping-off in junk post dropping-in.

Ninety-five percent

The scheme is paid for by the direct selling industry, which claims that registering should remove your name from 95% of mailing lists.

Tessa Kelly of the Direct Marketing Association told us:
"We can take up complaints on behalf of the consumer. Often there has been a mismatch in address details. If a company fails to comply, we can refer the matter to the Advertising Standards Authority, but generally we find that compliance is very high."

Any company found in breach of the rules can be fined up to 5,000, although it is unclear whether this sanction is often applied.

Registering with the MPS will not, however, stop mailings sent from overseas, un-addressed material or mail addressed to 'The Occupier'.

Local firms exempt

You may also continue to get marketing from small local firms.

And you can expect to keep receiving communications from companies you have done business with in the past.

Herein lies the problem faced by those unhappy viewers: how to stop all the mail which has sneaked past the MPS.

Companies you have dealt with before should have asked whether you are happy to receive their mailings, and they should remove you if you ask them at a later date.

You can also opt out of unaddressed mail delivered by the Royal Mail.

Unaddressed post

This post is called "Door to Door", and accounts for around a quarter of all unaddressed post.

Although it's free to register, you do need to let the Royal Mail know in writing.

The easiest way is to call them and get them to send you a form; the phone number is on our useful contacts page.

Unfortunately this will not stop letters addressed to "The Occupier", which the postman is legally obliged to deliver.

Once you have exhausted all these options, you might want to try the distinctly low-tech solution advocated by one Working Lunch viewer: a sticker on your letterbox reading 'No junk mail please'.

Phone and fax

Those pestered by junk phone calls and fishy faxes might want to register their details with the MPS's younger siblings, the Telephone Preference Service and the Fax Preference Service.

Links can be found on the right-hand side of this page.


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