A few pieces of advice about canceling store catalogs that arrive in the mail

Contributing writerApril 21, 2014 

Is there a catalog shopper in your household?

Do you have a feeling that some mail-order companies are giving or selling your name to others because you are receiving catalogs from stores you've never heard of?

Do you feel sorry for your postal carrier because his or her shoulder droops from the weight of catalogs in the mail satchel?

Has your sense of ecology been horrified at the number of beautiful pine trees which died to make pulp for catalogs?

Does your recycling bin wobble under the weight of these charlatans of commerce?

If the answer to any of those questions is yes, be advised that help is here.

I am a self-proclaimed expert on removing a name from catalog mailing lists. And, if you will permit a few personal observations in the realm of catalog shopping here they are.

There is no doubt that my late wife was the head shopper at our house. Before her death she became expert at mail merchandising. Before that, she was world class at in-store shopping. Quality and bargain were her middle names.

A quick glance and she could tell whether a purse was a genuine Louis Vuitton or a knock-off. One look and feel of fabric would let her know whether a garment was a real St. John or a wannabe.

When health problems precluded her from store shopping, she resorted to catalogs.

Boy did she resort.

After she died earlier this year, it became my chore to eliminate her name from catalog mailing lists. At this writing I have canceled 51 catalogs in which I have no interest, and the Christmas season is yet upon us.

I mean, what do I need from Gumps or Neiman Marcus? Vermont Country Store I will continue because where else can you get Zag-Nut candy bars, Bit-0-Honeys or old fashioned chocolate drops?

Here's my advice on eliminating these unwanted catalogs from your mailbox: Simply turn to the page containing name and address, usually the back cover. Find the store or firm's toll-free phone number and dial it. Most vendors will have an answering service that offers menus usually including a department to handle catalog changes. Hint: Have your mailing label for that firm handy because whoever answers will ask for your customer ID number.

After a brief verification of address, your name will be removed from the list and your problem is solved. The person who answered the phone will probably tell you that one of two more catalogues will be forthcoming because they are preprinted.

Easy enough, wasn't it?

However, with some calls glitches develop. Operators who don't know how to spell Hanna or put an "h" on the end of the name are unaware of their ignorance.

If you live on a funny named street such as Chinoe Road, beware. Operators in New York and California have a hard time understanding our Kentucky accent. You can spell Chinoe for them and pronounce it coherently and they will murder the name. It takes some effort to unravel the misunderstanding.

For the most part, the process is simple. One final hint: If you receive a heavy volume of catalogs, call in cancellations each day when the mail arrives; only takes a few minutes. Don't let them pile up on you. You'll be sorry if you do.

Bill Hanna, the former city editor of The Lexington Leader, lives in Lexington. His wife, Jacqueline, died in February.

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