Kokua Line

June Watanabe

Tuesday, May 6, 2003

Businesses don’t feel
effect of refused mail

Question: I read the April 27 "Kokua Line" regarding junk mail. A couple of years ago, I called the U.S. Postal Service and was told to write "refused" near the addressee portion of the envelope and put it back into the mailbox. What does the post office do with these "refused" pieces of mail? Most of these businesses have a bulk permit number, so when a letter is refused, is it sent back at their expense? If the postal service just throws these refused letters out, are we allowed to put the sender's address in the addressee portion and mail it back at their expense? I want to hit a company's pocketbook as much as possible, and I want them to know that I do not even open their letters. From a marketing standpoint, they are probably just playing the odds. Send out 1,000 letters and six will respond. If we 994 send our letters back at their expense, it would be sweet to make them pay a little for annoying us.

Answer: Unfortunately, businesses who do such bulk mailings don't want them returned and certainly not at their expense.

Writing "refused" on their mail won't hit them in the pocketbook, said Lynne Moore, director of consumer affairs for the U.S. Postal Service in Hawaii.

The type of postage bulk mailers pay for does not include payment for return service, she said, and any returns are just disposed of. If you readdress the envelope to send it back, you'd have to pay for the return postage.

Moore said the best way to cut "junk mail" is to, as "Kokua Line" suggested April 27, write to the Direct Marketing Association or write to the companies directly. Another option is to contact the three major credit reporting companies, asking to "opt out" -- be removed from their marketing lists.

The companies and their addresses: Equifax Inc., Options, P.O. Box 740123, Atlanta, GA 30374-0123; Experian, Consumer Opt-Out, 701 Experian Parkway, Allen, TX 75013; Trans Union Marketing List Removal, P.O. Box 97328, Jackson, MS 39288-7328.

You can also just call toll-free, 888-5-OPTOUT (888-567-8688), to opt out of all pre-approved credit offers.

Q: I got a coupon from Arby's that says you can purchase two french dip subs for $5. But to get the special price, you must pay $5. I believe state law says that if they make such an offer, they also must sell one at the discount price, so that you only have to pay $2.50 for one. Can you check?

A: There is no such law, according to Stephen Levins, of the state Office of Consumer Protection.

The point of the coupon is to entice you into purchasing two sandwiches, and there is no requirement that the merchant has to offer you a discount if you only want to purchase one.

It's your choice whether to do so, Levins said.


To the staff of the Hawaii Foodbank and to all the volunteers helping with the recent food drive. I took a drive around downtown to Hawaii Kai, and the effort was noticeable, needed and well done. -- Steve Tayama


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