If I had to describe junk mail in a single word, I’d say "annoying." I thought about describing it as a scourge on the mailboxes of the nation but decided that was a little melodramatic. I receive more junk mail, including oodles of coupons from local retailers, than regular mail these days and so I can understand why Melissa Tyler decided to take the issue of junk mail to the Massachusetts court system.
Tyler is suing home goods retailer Bed Bath & Beyond, stating that the company used her ZIP code in conjunction with her credit card information to send her unsolicited mail. This isn’t Tyler’s first junk mail lawsuit, either.
In 2011, Tyler filed a lawsuit against Michael’s, saying that the company’s request for a ZIP code violated consumer protection laws in Massachusetts. Tyler won this lawsuit and received a $25 award for damages, the minimum award allowed in such a case.
This time the stakes are much higher. Tyler is seeking class-action lawsuit status and if a judge grants this request, the claim could reach into the millions. Although this is a Massachusetts issue, at least currently, it could have an impact on the way retailers market to consumers. Some may consider this a frivolous lawsuit — the unsolicited mail can simply be recycled — but I see the lawsuit as a consumer-driven way to change direct mail marketing practices in the nation.
I’ve tried many different ways to eliminate unwanted junk mail including PaperKarma and while these tools are useful for some types of junk mail, they won’t eliminate all unwanted mail. Additionally, each new trip to a retailer is met with the same request – "ZIP code, please." If I forget to politely decline to share it, I’ll inevitably end up back on a mailing list and the process to remove myself from these lists starts again.