According to an article in Business Week, the Catalog Choice service I wrote about last year has caused a bit of a scare in the direct marketing world (see "Stop the Catalog Madness with Catalog Choice," 2007-12-03). With over 500,000 members having declined more than 6.3 million catalogs, even the Direct Marketing Association is concerned, and is encouraging its members to ignore requests from Catalog Choice users to be removed from catalog mailing lists. Business Week says that the DMA will be removing the $1 fee from its service and letting users decline individual catalogs, but it's too little, too late, especially since a credit card will reportedly be required for proof of identity. That's a privacy nightmare waiting to happen.
If your business wants to endorse Catalog Choice's work, they've set up an Endorsements page for that now. I've added TidBITS Publishing Inc. to that page - we love what Catalog Choice has done so far. We've declined a total of 68 catalogs, 13 of which have been confirmed by the merchants. Only one - Title Nine (a sports clothing retailer for women) - has refused our request; we'll be calling them to request more firmly that they stop inundating us with unwanted paper.
What's especially nice about the Catalog Choice site is that you have a record of which catalogs you've declined, and they provide links to those companies' Web sites. Just because I don't want a catalog doesn't mean I don't want to shop with that merchant again. But catalogs have given way to the Web for many of us, and it's high time retailers acknowledged that not everyone wants paper catalogs. They could redirect the saved money to creating better and more compelling Web sites; there's no site out there that doesn't have room for improvement.