Thursday, January 12, 2017

Free return address labels in the mail from charities are an opportunity, not a problem

On January 9, 2017 Jane Genova blogged about Unsolicited Junk Gifts from Supposedly Worthy Causes - Ask Congress to Ban This Kind of Snail Mail. (Titles of posts from her Speechwriter-Ghostwriter blog show up under Speaking Pro Central at Alltop Speaking, which I glance at every day). She had received address labels and a notepad from St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. Jane ranted that:

“....The brutal reality is that gifts, even junk gifts, impose obligation. The expectation is that we will reciprocate. When a cause approaches us in this way, of course, the expectation is for a monetary donation.

I want this stopped. And since the public nuisance happens through the mail, federal authorities can end this practice. That will force good causes to become more innovative in their fundraising. That will provide more assignments for us in marketing communications.”

But there was no reason to go on a guilt trip or try to change the law. The existing one is adequate, and it says there is no legal obligation. A web page at the U. S. Postal Inspection Service titled Receipt of Unsolicited Merchandise explains in plain English that after you open it you can treat it as a gift and either:

A]  If you like what you find, you may keep it for free.

B]  If you don’t like what you find, you may throw it away.

They also refer to the law (Section 3009 of Title 39 of the United States Code). I found it amusing that Jane, who likes to name drop about having attended Harvard Law School, didn’t even bother to look up the law on this topic. (She also cross-posted this same story at her Law and More blog).

I suspect that Jane didn’t spend much more time writing her blog post than I did reading it. She’s a bad example, as I discussed previously on December 28, 2016 in a blog post titled Shallow versus deep research about how much Americans trust their mass media.

Return address label sheets from charities are a useful gift, and thus are my favorite type of ‘junk’ mail. 

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