Well, well, well. It turns out that while I was writing about the double standards applied by leaflet distributor Jog Post the company had just appeared on Dragon's Den, which, as I understand it, is some form of 'reality entertainment'. Entrepreneurs in need of an investor can make a business proposal to a bunch of successful business folk, and if they're lucky they'll get the money needed in return for a stake in the business. How entertaining.
Jog Post's owners presented themselves as
ethical leaflet distributors, and sure enough the 'dragons' didn't question the use of the adjective. Before giving the money needed for Jog Post to
explode into the market they did question whether or not Jog Post's junk mail deliverers were really running all the time (and not dumping leaflets in the nearest rubbish bin) but once that was out of the way they got what they wanted.
Which is fine. Good luck to them. But, let me repeat that Jog Post isn't in any way an ethical leaflet distributor. There's nothing ethical about telling the public that you have a
zero tolerance policy on deliverers ignoring 'No Junk Mail' signs while in reality you have a policy of ignoring 'No Junk Mail' signs.
Junk Mail Man
When Jog Post contacted me last year I suggested that, as an ethical company, they could work with me on a project I had just started at the time. The idea was to launch an informal ombudsman for junk mail (working title 'Junk Mail Man'). Nothing came of it. Just when it all started to get shape Jog Post stopped answering phone calls and e-mails, which I have to assume was Jog Post's way of saying they had lost interest. The Junk Mail Man was shelved, and I doubt the project will ever be revived.
So, what was the plan?
The Junk Mail Man was to be a co-operation between consumer groups and junk mailers, and it's primary aim to encourage the junk mail industry to adopt 'best practice'. Ironically, this is particularly relevant when it comes to leaflet distributors. The distribution of unaddressed junk mail is almost completely unregulated. If you find you're getting Pizza Hut leaflets despite having a 'No Junk Mail' sign on your door there's nothing you can do about it.
An informal ombudsman would not magically resolve such issues, but it would be an improvement. People would have somewhere to go with complaints, and issues could be identified and discussed with the (alledged) offenders. In the process the Junk Mail Man could advise junk mailers on best practice. For instance, an issue I discussed with Jog Post at the time was whether or not leaflets from local councils and charities should be delivered to people with a 'No Junk Mail' sign. The Direct Marketing Association has nothing to say on such issues, and so distributors are making up the rules as they go along.
Not a bad idea, if I say so myself. As said, I don't think anything will ever come of it, but I've moved the Junk Mail Man to a new shelf just in case: the Google Group. Do add your thoughts if you're a
junk mailer direct marketeer interested in raising standards within the industry.