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Mailing & Fulfillment — Defeating ‘Do-Not-Mail’ Laws

May 2008 By Mark Nuzzaco
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"MAIL MOVES America and Printing Powers Prosperity." This statement epitomizes NPES' commitment to leadership in the mailing and fulfillment industry, where related companies and associations have formed a coalition to maintain the vitality of printed communication as a key structural component of the American economy.

Initially, Mail Moves America was formed to counter so-called "Do-Not-Mail" legislation in various states, which attempts to curtail, if not eliminate, mail delivery of direct commercial communication. This remains the principal focus of the coalition in 2008, which has successfully opposed Do-Not-Mail efforts in a number of states so far this year.

o The importance of Printed Communication and Mail: Despite the growth of electronic communications, the U.S. mail remains a critical means by which to exchange information and conduct commerce for more than 146 million separate American households, businesses and nonprofit organizations. And, since advertising mail currently provides more than half of the annual revenue that makes this possible, its loss would surely cause postal rates to rise, curtail customer service and ultimately damage the larger U.S. economy.

According to the Direct Marketing Association, the average U.S. household gets a little more than 14 pieces per week of Standard Mail from businesses and nonprofit organizations. And, a 2005 USPS Household Diary study indicated that 85 percent of U.S. households usually read some or all of the advertising mail they receive. They say it makes shopping more convenient, gives additional choices and saves them money.

Getting off mailing lists should never be difficult, and it is usually a simple matter of recipients contacting mailers, and requesting to be removed from their lists and to not have their names shared with other mailers. Nevertheless, the recent Do-Not-Mail legislative effort persists. Fortunately, no legislation has been enacted into law yet. But the momentum is building.

o Status of Do-Not-Mail Legislation: In 2005, only three states, Hawaii, Missouri and New York, had bills introduced in their legislatures. In 2006, Illinois joined those three states. However, in 2007, the activity jumped dramatically with 18 bills introduced across 15 states, but none were enacted into law. This year has seen Do-Not-Mail legislation in 10 states, including eight proposals automatically carried over from 2007 legislative calendars.

The provisions of the bills vary. Some require mailers to register with state agencies and pay annual fees, but also allow exemptions based on express request, business contact during a specified period of time, small business status and political speech.
 

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