Stop Junk Mail

The Science of Junk Busting

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More about letterbox stickers

Ever wondered how effective 'No Junk Mail' signs are? Curious what you should do if your sign is being ignored? This page attempts to answer these and other questions.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you have any queries not listed here, please feel free to contact me.

Do 'No Junk Mail' stickers work?

For the average householder, a 'No Junk Mail' sign will prevent roughly 100 leaflets per year. It won't stop all unaddressed junk mail, but you'll be surprised how many leafleters respect a polite request not to push junk mail through the door.

In recent years leaflet distributors have become a lot more sensitive when it comes to respecting people's wishes. Most leaflet distribution companies nowadays instruct employees to respect 'No Junk Mail' signs. More problematic are businesses delivering leaflets themselves. In particular take-away outlets often seem to be oblivious to the meaning of the words 'No Junk Mail'.

Unfortunately, Royal Mail doesn't yet respect 'No Junk Mail' signs. However, you can opt out of receiving unaddressed items delivered by the postman. Doing so will stop a considerable amount of leaflets.

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Which sticker should I choose?

I'm currently selling three types of letterbox stickers:

Although the stickers all have the same aim - reducing unsolicited, unaddressed mail - there are some subtle differences between them. Let's first tackle the differences between the 'No Junk Mail' and 'No Commercial Leaflets' stickers…

An image of a sticker with the text 'No Junk Mail'. An image of a sticker with the text 'No Junk Mail / No Free Newspapers'
The 'No Junk Mail' concept

If you're after a clear, no-nonsense sign for your door to cut back on junk mail then the 'No Junk Mail' concept is for you. If you don't want to receive leaflets but do want to get free local newspapers you can get the sign that reads 'No Junk Mail', and if you're not interested in free papers you can put the sticker that also says 'No Free Newspapers' on your door.

The text on the 'No Junk Mail' stickers is no doubt stronger. However, the text is also less specific and leaves it up to deliverers to decide what is meant by 'junk mail'. With most items this is clear enough; a take-away leaflet, for instance, is definitely 'junk mail'. But should a leaflet announcing a local street fayre also come under the header 'junk mail'? And, what should the deliverer of a free local newspaper do when he comes across a sticker saying 'No Junk Mail'?

Usually, 'junk mail' is defined as 'commercial leaflets'. In other words, a sticker with the text 'No Junk Mail' will normally not stop non-commercial leaflets and free newspapers. Be aware though that the above definition of 'junk mail' is not universally accepted. You may find that the sticker saying 'No Junk Mail' stops all unaddressed mail, including free newspapers.

An image of a sticker with the text 'No Commercial Leaflets / No Free Newspapers' An image of a sticker with the text 'No Commercial Leaflets / Yes Free Newspapers'.
The 'No Commercial Leaflets' concept

And so we've introduced the second type of sticker. Personally, I think the 'No Commercial Leaflets' concept is smarter. It just makes sense to use the term 'commercial leaflets' instead of 'junk mail'. It prevents confusion about what is meant by 'junk mail' and makes it very clear which leaflets are welcome, and which are not.

Secondly, the 'No/No, No/Yes' stickers make it clear whether or not free newspapers are welcome. People have very different opinions about free newspapers. For some people they're a useful source of information, to others they're junk mail in disguise. The only way to cater for both opinions is to give people a straight 'yes' or 'no' choice.

An image of a sticker with the text 'No Leaflets, Circulars, Charity Bags - Addressed Mail Only'.
Another option: 'Addressed Mail Only'

The 'Addressed Mail Only' sticker also aims to prevent any confusion about what items are and aren't welcome. It doesn't make the distinction between commercial and non-commercial leaflets; instead it asks deliverers to only post addressed mail items through your letterbox. If you don't care whether or not leaflets are commercial this sticker will be more effective than the 'No Junk Mail' variety.

Instead of saying 'no' to free newspapers the stickers says 'no' to circulars. This is again to avoid any confusion; deliverers of, say, a free magazine full of sponsored articles and adverts could suppose that a sticker with the text 'No Free Newspapers' isn't relevant to the literature in question. Finally, the sticker also refuses charity collection bags. The 'No Junk Mail' and 'No Commercial Leaflet' signs won't stop such bags. The 'Addressed Mail Only' stickers might do the trick, although I should caution that many charities (or rather the limited companies that usually collect the bags and pay a royalty to a charity for the use of its name) feel they don't have to abide by any rules for unsolicited marketing.

In short, the choice is between a sticker with a stronger message, a more sophisticated sticker, and a sticker that aims to simply stop all unaddressed mail items.

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What else can I do to stop leaflets?

A 'No Junk Mail' sign will stop all commercial leaflets, with the exception of leaflets delivered by Royal Mail. As mentioned above, you can stop unaddressed junk mail delivered by the postman by registering with Royal Mail's Door-to-Door Opt-Out.

The Direct Marketing Association operates a Your Choice preference scheme for unaddressed mail delivered by members of the association. This scheme will do very little to reduce junk mail but registering is free and can't hurt. You can ask both schemes to send you an opt-out form via Junk Buster. Using Junk Buster you can also cancel the Yellow Pages, Thomson Local Directory and BT Phone Book.

If there are any non-commercial leaflets you want to stop you can always contact the sender directly. For instance, if you're not interested in leaflets delivered by a local political party you should contact that party directly (unless the leaflets are delivered by Royal Mail or a distribution company that is a member of the Direct marketing Association, in which care the leaflets can be stopped by signing up to the above-mentioned opt-out schemes.

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What can I do if my sticker is being ignored?

Any 'No Junk Mail' sign is not more than a polite request not to push commercial leaflets through your door. Whereas you have a legal right not to be bothered with addressed junk mail, you can't force individuals or organisations to stop delivering unaddressed junk mail.

If you do continue to receive lots of leaflets, chances are they're delivered by the postman. As mentioned above, Royal Mail doesn't respect 'No Junk Mail' signs and instead insists you register with the company's Door-to-Door Opt-Out. Unfortunately, Royal Mail often fails to cease delivering unaddressed mail items after a household has registered with the service. If this is the case, you can either remind Royal Mail that your household has opted out (you can do so by sending an e-mail to door_to_door_ops_admin@royalmail.com) or make a complaint. If you're considering the latter, please read the information about complaints in the Guide to Stamping Out Junk Mail.

Businesses that don't use a professional leaflet distribution company also disproportionally ignore 'no junk mail' signs. There's little you can do about this. If the sender is a member of the Direct Marketing Association you could complaint to them, but local businesses are seldomly of the junk mail federation. You're best bet is to contact the sender directly. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn't.

If you feel strongly about junk mailers ignoring your request not to receive unsolicited leaflets, you may want to adopt the 'justice for the price of an envelope' approach. Stick the unwanted leaflet in an envelope addressed to the offender; enclose a polite note asking the sender to respect 'No Junk Mail' signs in the future; and put it in the post, unstamped. Royal Mail will notify the addressee that an item needs to be collected from the Post Office and that postage plus a £1 administration fee are due. It's should make junk mailer think twice…

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Will your stickers last?

Yes. They've been screen printer and will not fade in the sun or otherwise be affected by the weather. They should last for many, many years.

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