February 13, 2008

Survey Results: What Purpose Does Catalog Choice Serve?

Please visit the homepage for the latest survey, asking why you read The MineThatData Blog.

You were given a chance to speak out about Catalog Choice, the customer-friendly and eco-friendly organization that protects customers from the misery of receiving unsolicited catalogs.

Here is how you responded:
  • 43% = Catalog Choice simply gives customers a way to opt-out of unwanted and unsolicited catalog mailings.
  • 14% = Catalog Choice uses this service to promote an eco-friendly agenda.
  • 29% = Catalog Choice wants to dictate a new business model to catalogers.
  • 14% = We cannot possibly know or understand what Catalog Choice wants to accomplish.
As you can clearly see, our readers are split in their perception of what Catalog Choice wishes to accomplish.

I truly believe catalogers want to honor opt-out requests. I have yet to hear information contrary to this.

Catalogers want to trust one or both organizations (Catalog Choice and the Direct Marketing Organization, contrasting organizations promoting common objectives). Catalogers are reading your press releases and blog discussions, scrutinizing your words and actions. Use your platforms to do good!


  1. I don’t know who the catalogers trust, but as a consumer, I certainly no longer trust the DMA. Not after recently learning about a security breach in which 30,000 consumers’ full names, addresses, e-mail addresses, and passwords were allegedly accessible—including most likely mine.

    Fortunately, I create unique passwords for every site I visit and update them periodically. And there’s no mention that credit card info was vulnerable.

    Still, I am angry with the DMA. I regret that I ever used their so-called “Mail Preference Service,” which not only doesn’t work very well but has actually made me vulnerable to identity theft. I wish I’d never given them a dime.

  2. I'm sorry that happened to you. Hopefully, it was an honest, forgivable mistake on behalf of the DMA.

  3. Thanks. I’ve simmered down quite a bit. I doubt I'll trust the DMA with additional personal information in the future, though.

    I'm a member of another website where a hacker once got hold of the real names and passwords of the users. The administrator immediately sent e-mail notifications with an apology and new randomly generated passwords. I thought that was a very decent thing to do, especially since some people were understandably upset. The administrator wanted us to have fair warning in case we were using the same password at other sites, and I respect him for that.

    I haven't heard a peep from the DMA about last month's incident, though, and discovered it only by accident this morning while running a barely related blog search. I suppose security breaches like that happen at lots of places, only to be quietly swept under the rug, leaving the registered members none the wiser. It's a little disconcerting, to say the least.

    I like your latest blog entries about the Merch Curse. On a somewhat similar note, I’ve noticed how Clorox is losing us longtime Burt's Bees hippies by eliminating old product (“tending our garden” they call it euphemistically at their blog), apparently with the intent of attracting new customers through the launch of new lines. I could go on about that, but I believe I’ve done enough ranting for one day.

  4. Anonymous8:42 AM

    Hi Kevin,

    I have been a subscriber to Catalog Choice for a couple of months, but have found them to be ineffective and I have stopped believing they will have any impact on my mailbox, the environment or the industry.

    Here are two reasons that I believe Catalog Choice is failing and their model is ineffective:

    1) They have lied to their stakeholders.

    CC advertised themselves as a one stop shop for cancelling catalogues. But, as I have since learned, they did not have merchants signed up with them before they started soliciting subscribers and making claims as a panacea for unwanted mail.

    They promoted themselves without having a system/network with which to follow through on their promise to me and to others in exchange for my time on their site and trust in their organization.

    Their brand will be damaged by this in the long run, as it already has been with me, as people will cease to trust that their product works.

    2)They are demonizing the industry they need as partners in order to succeed.

    I have read their blog and they are consistently berating vendors by name in a public forum. If I were representing a business in the industry, especially one that was called out on their web site, I would be too angry and distrustful to work with them.

    They are highly critical of the DMA for requiring a credit card to get off of mailing lists, but they do not say *why* the DMA requires a credit card or why the mail order companies might want that. The credit card verifies the user. It makes sense that a company would want to verify that a request is coming from a real person. This is a valid request.

    Case in point: the Today Show shows school children unsubscribing their parents from catalogs. The clip is on the Catalog Choice blog. Those kids are not customers. If they can do it so easily while acting as proxies for their parents, so can anybody fool the system for a variety of reasons.

    Catalog Choice should work *with* the DMA to figure out how to make their model function as it so obviously does not currently. I do not think their failure to implement is because of any technical issues but instead a culture at Catalog Choice that is seemingly loose with facts and certainly confrontational by nature.

    They have great potential. I hope they can reach out to the DMA as a potential partner to rescue what seems to be a promising service.

  5. No matter whether folks side with catalogers, the DMA, or Catalog Choice, things aren't perfect yet.

    Someday, we'll get there.


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