For as long as I can remember, legislation that would either lead to a law similar to the “do-not-call” law or that would require mailers to get consumers’ approval before sending them catalogs has been like one of those disasters you only see in the movies or TV. It could never happen in real life, no way. There often have been flashes of “do-not-mail” bill proposals, but nothing has ever become of it.
Such a law is one of the biggest reasons American catalogers don’t try to mail in countries like Italy and parts of China, both of which specifically require prior consent in order to mail to prospects. Other countries, such as Germany, Austria and Portugal, have laws that require commercial mailers to have do-not-mail suppression lists.
But perhaps nearly as shocking as the N.Y. Mets’ historic collapse this month (I’ll get over it eventually, but it’s sure not easy working for a Philadelphia-based company), “do-not-mail” legislation is building up some steam in a growing number of U.S. states. And as momentum builds, and more consumer and environmental advocacy organizations jump on the bandwagon to lobby in Washington, for do-not-mail legislation, the threat becomes very real.
It’s easy to pooh-pooh bills that are proposed in only a few states considering all that’s needed for a federal law to be passed. Just 15 states proposed do-not-mail bills in 2007; eight will propose such legislation when the new Congress starts in 2008, although more are expected to follow suit next year. Still, this is a matter you can’t pooh-pooh. And as of this writing, 57 percent of those who voted in our current Web poll said they were unaware of this threat. (If you haven’t cast your vote yet, please go to the upper right corner of our home page and do so; hopefully more of you are, in fact, aware of it and are doing something about it.)