This rant from Tom, who says "I think I qualify as a Grumpy Old Sod - I am 78 years old, and I am certainly grumpy - there is much nowadays to be grumpy about."
Junk mail used to be a fact of life. Then came the Mailing Preference Service, which allowed us to register for our details to be deleted from firms' mailing lists. After this the amount of junk mail we received was dramatically reduced. But, of course, this meant a great deal of extra work for junk mailing firms in the way of checking their mailing lists to delete those addresses which had registered.
So a great idea struck them. Why not pay the Post Office to deliver junk mail to every address in a particular area, or even in the whole country? Royal Mail jumped at this opportunity to increase their revenue. So now we get junk mail by the handful, often several times a week. I understand the postmen receive a bonus (said to be 1p per item) for each item of junk they deliver.
I complained to Royal Mail, and was told that there was a way to "opt out" from receiving this rubbish (incidentally, they took great exception to my description of this rubbish as "junk"). I could complete a form which would put my details on a list of addresses which had opted out. But this concession came with a barely-concealed threat that, by completing this form, I would miss out on government, local council, and other important information. Presumably they meant Electoral Register forms, election details etc. So reluctantly I decided to do nothing, and just put up with any rubbish the Post Office liked to give me.
I vented my frustration in a number of ways. At first, I just posted all this rubbish in the nearest Post Office letter box on the principle that if they insisted in putting rubbish into my letter box, I reserved the right to put the same rubbish back into theirs. This did no good, but it made me feel better.
I have now refined my action by writing "return to sender" on each item before posting it. If Royal Mail do as instructed, this might have the effect of alerting the originators of junk mail to the fact that it is objectionable to many of the recipients, and is counter-productive.
If anyone has any further proposals to eliminate or reduce the reams of junk mail which are adding to the huge piles of rubbish and/or recyclable paper, I shall be pleased to hear about them on Captain Grumpy's web site.
The GOS says: Yes, if anyone has some spiteful and inventive ways of dealing with this plague, do write and tell us about them - we could add them to the bottom of this page.
Junk mail is only one of the ways in which our lives are invaded. Besides this website, we also run several for other people who are too lazy or too computer-illiterate to do it themselves. All of them attract an enormous number of spam emails which all end up in our inbox - despite using various types of filtering software, we still receive up to a hundred messages every day offering us drugs, mortgages or a bigger willy. We seem most weeks to win a zillion euros on some obscure European internet lottery, and are frequently offered substantial sums if we will launder large amounts of money for family-members of disgraced African politicians. And then there are the "security alerts" from practically every bank you can think of. A few contain viruses or spyware (yes, we have software for those as well) but mostly they're just a bloody nuisance.
And we've written about cold-callers on the telephone before. We registered both our phone lines with the Telephone Preference Service, but frankly it doesn't seem to have had any effect. The callers from this country go away pretty quickly when you tell them that, but the ones from call centres in Delhi or Karachi couldn't give a toss - the rules don't apply in India. Or East Kilbride, apparently.
Then there's the television. Scarcely a night goes by without some advert threatening us about what will happen if we don't buy a television licence, or tax the car. And I use the word "threatening" deliberately, because that's just what it is - the BBC and the DVLC are penetrating our living-room uninvited, and issuing threats. If some young man in a hoodie did the same, the police would presumably come running …
You might think that it's our television, paid for with our own money and running off our own electricity, in our own living-room. We didn't buy it, or pay our TV licence fee, so we could be hectored and menaced by large organisations like the BBC or the DVLC. And it's our phone, which we had installed for our own convenience to talk to our own family, friends and business acquaintances. It's not a bloody public service. I don't phone Mr.Everest Bloody Double Glazing at his home so why does he do it to me? Ditto our computer - admittedly we post our rants on the World Wide Web for anyone to see, but we don't shove them down anyone's throat and they chose to come here, even if forty percent of them were actually looking for "Readers' Wives".
And you might think that Tom's letterbox is his own property which he has placed on his own front door for his own convenience. Whatever happened to "the Englishman's home is his castle"?
This response comes from "Maaarrghk!":
"If it comes with a pre-paid envelope for sending back application forms, then just stuff the blank forms in said envelopes and post them back. Your name and address is usually printed somewhere on the form so they know where it's coming back from. As they have to pay the postage for getting a blank form back, they will soon stop sending you the crap.
"I however, am a little more vindictive. I let two piles of junk mail accumulate and once every few months I sit down and put the crap from pile A into the envelopes from pile B and vice-versa, after first tearing out of the forms any reference numbers or copies of my name and address. They then get posted and the junk mail firms have no idea where all this crap is coming from! They are paying out for postage and someone to open "junk mail" and cannot avoid it. Tables turned, it only takes me a few spare minutes every couple of months and gives me a little warm glow deep in my heart.
"Just imagine Dear Captain if we all did this. Just imagine.............
"As for junk phone calls, I listen politely for a few seconds, then tell them that my wife deals with that sort of thing and would they mind holding while I just pop upstairs and get her. I then leave the phone off the hook for 10 minutes until they get sick of waiting and hang up.
"A friend of mine prefers to keep a referees whistle by the phone for such instances - just as effective, but in these nanny state times maybe a little risky. Oh well, each to his own.
"Keep fighting the good fight.
either on this site or on the World Wide Web.
This site created and maintained by PlainSite