It appears to be uneconomical to purge a data base. The new motto is “no deletes all adds.” My wife and I appear to be in just about every data base that exists in the Midwest. My mail is bulging at the seams with offers from people that I have not heard from in years. In fact, I even get mail from vendors that solicited my children years ago. I have called them back in an attempt to purge their data base and save them time and postage but with zero results. Why should they care? The data base of names and numbers is not used by them. It is used by the telemarketing firms that they hire.
It would seem that firms would want to use their dollars as productively as they can. Three years ago, I made a donation of used clothing to the Purple Heart. How they got my telephone number is beyond me but I get a call every month from a different person whose job it is to call former donors to see if they are ready to donate again. But 36 months running would seem to indicate that maybe I don’t have any more used clothing to donate?
How about Habitat for Humanity? Another case of a donation of a check to help their cause! Five years later and at least a hundred letters and appeals for donations, and I am ready to scream! I spent a few years in the Knight of Columbus in the late 1990’s. Good organization but we moved and I just did not have the time to devote to their organization so I tactfully resigned. Well, you may physically resign from the K of C but once you are in their data base, you are in for life. I get raffle tickets, monthly and quarterly newspapers and magazines. Letters come to me from all over – Lansing, Hartford, Washington, D.C. to name a few. I wrote and sent the magazines back but with no luck. Now my wastepaper is the direct recipient of the mail as it comes in.
I get mailings from physicians and clinics all over the country. Every few months I receive a “marketing check” for $1,000 off my hearing aids. However, I do not have hearing aids at least for now. I suspect that these firms buy or obtain from AARP, Social Security, Medicare, etc. a list of homeowners in an area that are over 65 who become targets for their mailings. You would think that after a number of years, the firms promoting these products would purge their list at least against the death notices. AARP is one of my favorites. You cannot physically stop AARP from contacting you. They sell auto insurance, life insurance, trip insurance, mortgage insurance, to name just a few of their quote “products.” You become a member of AARP whether you send their request for dues in or not.
Without a doubt, the best of all is the travel magazines. Once one travel magazine gets your name and address, you are a target for life. Your name and address are automatically forwarded to the other magazines. I had no idea how many travel magazines there are. I assume the travel industry is depressed and they target senior citizens with their travel brochures and magazines as senior citizens are the only ones left in this economy with any discretionary money. I may even consider a Viking River Cruise down the Rhine just to stop the brochures.
There are companies that sell data base lists. I suspect that the longer the list the more money they get for their product. Is there anything that one can do – probably not? There is really no way of stopping the mailings as you as a consumer have no idea where the next mailing will come from. I would hope with the increased costs coming from the U.S. Postal Service that it may cause these mailers to review their lists and remove people who have not responded in years.
DONALD WITTMER is a retired business executive who held key roles in the automotive and banking sectors. For a time, he also served as a Fiscal Agency Manager for the Detroit branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. He received his undergraduate degree from Cincinnati’s Xavier University, an M.A. in business management from Central Michigan University, and earned certification in bank operations from the School of Banking at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A husband, father, and grandfather, he teaches part-time at the Kent Place School for Girls in Summit, New Jersey.