Monday, November 21, 2011

Stop unwanted credit card offers

From Innovation Bootcamp post Nov 1 2011

Sending unsolicited credit card offers to consumers that don't want them is bad for several reasons:

1. Annoying to the consumer
: takes time when sorting through the mail. You could calculate the economic cost assuming at a minimum in the U.S.: 100 million consumers * 1 unsolicited offer per week (probably too low, I'm being conservative) * 50 weeks per year * 50% truly don't want another credit card * 30 seconds to identify the offer and deposit it in the junk mail * $20/hr wage

My back of the envelope math suggests there are 2.6 billion unwanted unsolicited offers per year (I'm being conservatively low, I think, but I couldn't easily find a quantified figure on the web.)
If the average person's opportunity cost of their time is $20/hr (maybe too high)and it takes 30 seconds to dispose of the junk mail, that is $0.17 per envelope.

So the opportunity cost of consumer's time is $430 million.

2. Bad business for the banks
If you assume that the cost to print the mailers and send them is $0.50-$1.00, then the cost to the banks is $1.3-2.6 billion.

3. Bad for the environment. 2.6 billion ounces of mail equals 81 tons of landfill.

You can OPT OUT of receiving most unsolicited credit card offers. I was a bit skeptical of the site, but I've registered and it really does work. I no longer receive credit card offers from any banks that I don't already have an affiliation with. You an register too at

Unfortunately, that won't eliminate all offers. Companies that you have a relationship with, i.e., airlines, hotels, banks, still send me offers. Over a three month period, I collected all the offers I received. Even though I have tried to opt out, I still got 38 offers in 3 months:

I've taken steps to stop these unwanted offers, but so far I haven't been successful. I've sent emails to their customer service and to their PR office and gotten no reply in most cases.

While I don't support folks who recommend sending back the mailers filled with a wood shingle, I'm currently trying a technique that I hope will work. I've printed out this form, and I mail it back to the banks in their prepaid envelopes. You can download the form, put in your own contact info, and try the technique too. Perhaps if enough people send it in, it will cause the bank executives to change their processes.

Here is what the letter says:

Please stop sending me credit card offers. I've registered on because I don't want to get credit card offers, and yet you send them to me anyway. Please remove my name from your mailing list, and send me a letter confirmation when that has been done. My contact info is:
[Include your contact info]

I strongly would encourage you to allow consumers the opportunity to opt out from credit card offers when they register with your loyalty program, or at any time on your website. Even better, have customers OPT IN to receiving credit card offers when they sign up by checking a "Please send me credit card offers" box.

This would not only be friendlier to consumers, it would also save you money, since you are surely sending offers to a lot of people that absolutely, positively don't want them.

By the way: I care about the environment, and sending me all these offers in the mail gives me a bad impression of your environmental stewardship.

Please stop sending me credit card offers -

Incidentally, when I looked at all these return mailers laid out, it was interesting to me that even though I got offers from a bunch of different airlines and hotel companies, 20 out of the first 28 mailers I sent back were going to the exact same PO Box in Wilmington, DE.

From Innovation Bootcamp post Nov 1 2011

I've also sent a letter to my Congressional Representative and to Raj Date, who is the Special Advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. You can download these letters, add in your own contact info, and send a letter too.

I'll post a follow up on any responses that I get from these two, and whether my return-envelope scheme is successful.

Stop credit card offers -

Stop credit card offers - Carolyn Maloney -

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