Wednesday, June 04, 2008

#405 Newsletters, The New Junk Mail

#405 Newsletters: The New Junk Mail

Now that you've been using the internet for years, you probably get most of your junk mail electronically. That's not to say that there still aren't some of the usual ads in your "regular" or "snail mail" mailbox. But fewer. Paper's way more expensive than electrons -- at least for now. And the guys who pick up the recycling deserve a break.

What you get via USPS these days is usually from people you do business with, anyway. Department stores, groceries, personal injury lawyers. But now, you also get a lot of "newsletters" you might not have in years gone by.

The least useful and most annoying are the ones from your health insurer. If there's more than one policy in your household, and it is with the same insurance company, each "member" will get his or her own, personal, individual, specially marked copy. You all can sit around the living room at night, put a little Sinatra on the turntable, lower the lights and read the thing to each other. Or in unison. You can turn it into drama, with one person reading the story narration and others reading the quotes in each article.

Or you can do what most people do and that is scan 'em and throw them out.

Here's a guide to all of them. There are three kinds of articles. (1) Maintain your health (and make fewer claims.) (2) Here's what we're doing to make your life better (hiring people we don't need and making up stories and printing pictures of them.) (3) Pharmacy plan adjustments (as in we're lowering the price of stuff no one uses to show you we're lowering something beside coverage, and raising the prices of everything else you need.

The could save paper by sending one copy to each household.

So could the AARP. Two members? Two newsletters. AND two magazines. AND two pitches for everything they pitch, and they pitch plenty. This is not against the AARP. After all, Exxon has a lobby, so why shouldn't we old folk?

But save paper, guys.

The AARP newsletter is chock full of useful information. Like which mega stars you've forgotten about are turning 50 or 60 or 70. Or truly useful stuff like "How to Avoid Paving Scams." Here's how you avoid paving scams. If you think your driveway needs patching or sealing, pick up the Yellow Pages and find a contractor who lives and works in your area. Avoid guys who approach you and say "we have some extra asphalt from a job we did down the street. How about we do your driveway so we don't have to schlep this stuff back to the shop?" Fifty three words. Don't waste your time with the rest.

If you have spare time, maybe you could write a newsletter about yourself and send it on to the AARP and Blue Cross. And while you're at it, send a "wish list" to Macy's and ask for a bid on the stuff.

They won't respond.


--Auto thefts are down 23 percent nationwide since the mid 1990s. That proves only one thing. The thieves can't afford to drive your car, either.

--We're no fan of Wal-Mart. Shopping there should be a crime. NOT shopping there already is.

--Not everyone thinks your house is less valuable now than it was a year ago. One example: the exterminator. Another: the tax collector.

I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.®
©2008 WJR

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