An article recently appeared in the national press announcing that the government had quietly abandoned a plan that would enabling households to stop unwanted leaflets “junk mail” coming through their letterboxes.
There is and has been for many years a Mail Preference Scheme (MPS) which makes it easy for individuals to get their names taken off mailing lists and thereby stop addressed letters they don’t want. This scheme is enforceable by law. A similar scheme to be called the “Door Drop Preference Service” (DPS), managed by the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) would have been an upgrade of the currently existing “Your Choice” scheme which merely asks DMA members not to deliver unaddressed mail to properties on that list. The Your Choice scheme is not legally binding but DMA members have the moral responsibility to adhere to “Your Choice” householders wishes. The proposed Door Drop Preference service would have been binding on its members but not enforceable by law.
Without going into too much detail of the scheme, the basics of Government/DMA discussions were as follows.
The DMA would convince their members to join the (DPS) scheme, but only if the government could convince those direct marketing/leaflet distribution companies who were not members of the DMA also to agree to the ban. The DMA also wanted to create a new scheme (in tandem) whereby leaflets in magazines (on newsagents shelves, and delivered by subscription), were also limited. Such a scheme would be extremely difficult to set up and administer.
Not surprisingly the government realised the difficulties, so the scheme has been dropped, or ominously “put on hold”.
Radio, Television and News media have a vendetta against businesses selling direct through the letterbox and continually try to whisk up a public hatred of letterbox media. The reason being because electronic and news media can’t get their clients anywhere near the return on investment (ROI) that letterbox media can. So their strategy is if you can’t beat it lets get it banned.
A ban would create unemployment
Direct mail and leaflet distribution is a legitimate way for companies of all sizes to advertise their goods and services to their customers. It works extremely well.
All of these companies employ people.
If direct mail and leaflet distribution were prohibited, the larger national companies may be able to afford the alternatives of press, TV and radio advertising, but the cost of these methods and the drop in response would surely damage their profitability and could lead to some reduction in operations and possible job losses.
But the loss of leaflet distribution would be disastrous for the small to medium sized businesses who are the main users of leaflet distribution.
Without this cost effective method of promoting their businesses could mean many of them would be forced to cease trading, and this would mean more job losses.
The job losses that would be incurred by the companies who use leaflet distribution could run into many thousands.
The knock on effect of a ban
But what about the ancillary industries that depend on the direct selling sector for much of their business.
Printing is one of this country’s largest light industries, and many of those printers rely heavily on the direct selling sector for their business.
With advent of the internet the demand for printing has been in decline. If the leaflet distribution and direct mail work was taken away from them, many printers would be forced to reduce their workforce drastically or close down completely and once again the possibility of thousands of workers thrown on the scrap heap.
Printing destroys the rain forests
The printing industry does not destroy rain forests.
The wood needed for producing paper has to be soft wood. Most of the rain forests are hard wood, suitable for furniture making.
Paper is also one of the world’s most easily recyclable commodities. It can be used over and over again. It is planet friendly, much more so than the data farms that bring us website and email burning tons of coal at power stations across the planet.
Questions that should be asked
The question that must be asked is why a government, who believe in a free market, and claim to support small business, consider passing a law that would stifle enterprise.
And are the people who clammer for the banning of “junk mail” aware of the consequences if they succeed?
Are they willing to destroy small enterprises and throw thousands of their countrymen out of work?
Government and electronic media owners need to recognise the importance of paper in the world – it’s a wonderful form of communication, and ebooks should never replace real books.
Paper the world’s truly wireless communication.