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Arousing & Provocative Real Estate (PG)

Marketers knows sex sells.  Conventions have Booth Babes, a local real estate team had a billboard imitating the Sex in the City girls and I’m sure you could build a tidy little niche in a South Beach type market showing property with  a limo or oversized Hummer with hostess.  Nonetheless, its not a marketing angle we have adopted.  At least 99.9% of you seem to agree.  We received a letter from the USPS which begins”

“We have been furnished a mailpiece containing advertising that you mailed or caused to be mailed to: [name/address withheld]. The mailipiece offers to sell matter that the addressee has deemed to be erotically arousing or sexually provocative.”

Under 39 USC 3008, the addressee has requested that a Prohibitory Order be Issued against you, and your agents or assigns, to protect the addressee (and his or her minor children residing with the addressee,who have not attained their 19th birthday), A copy of 39 USC 3008 is attached.

Please be aware that the US Postal Service is required by law to issue this order based on the recipient’s request.This office may not make an Independent assessment of whether the mall piece Is “erotically arousing or sexually provocative,'” This is left up to the sole discretion of the customer.”

This looks like pretty serious stuff.   My first reaction was “what on earth did we send out and how?”  Then I turned to the second page of the letter:

Front Side of Alphabet District Post CardBack Side of Alphabet District Post Card

Click-on either image to enlarge (no pun intended).

That’s when I started to laugh.  Really?  The same copy ran in our NW Examiner ad (pg 18 of 16mb pdf). Then I started to get mad. Rather than a polite call to opt out of our mailing list he uses a system designed to protect children from  receiving porn in the mail by having the post office issue a “prohibitory order.”  It seems like abuse of the system. Consumer Affairs at the Post Office tended to agree with me and will investigate if I send the documentation.  I doubt I will, just the thought of him explaining what about it “was erotically arousing or sexually provocative” to a USPS worker is enough.  And on the bright side? I know at least one person is reading my marketing.

You can read more about the property or visit the open house this Saturday from 1-4.

11 Comments on “Arousing & Provocative Real Estate (PG)

  1. “Rather than a polite call to opt out of our mailing list he uses a system designed to protect children from receiving porn in the mail by having the post office issue a “prohibitory order.” It seems like abuse of the system.”

    The law states that the RECIPIENT is the one that determines what is offensive, not the mailer. The reason this recipient probably used a Prohibitory Order to stop you from sending UNWANTED MAIL to them is because they DO NOT WANT YOUR CRAP. They should not be OBLIGATED to contact you to request that you remove their name that you added to your spam list WITHOUT their permission.

    Should recipients be required to “opt out” for every piece of crap that is sent to them through the mail, Mr. Turner? Do you think they would have time for anything else in their lives?

    You are part of the problem, sir. You and your UNWANTED ADVERTISING. You may not like it, but at least these recipients will not be bothered by your garbage anymore.

    (I live in Portland, and you are correct. I did read your marketing this time and because of it, I will NEVER use your company’s services). Well-played.

  2. Yes, apparently it was well-played. If you don’t want to work with me, the odds are I don’t want to work with you. This has saved us both some time figuring that out. Part of our job as Realtors is to get the word out that a neighboring property is for sale. That includes a recyclable post card.

    What you highlight is that there needs to be a “Do not mail” system similar to “Do not call”. Have a national database that stops that can be matched up to a mailing list and those addresses are dumped. You don’t get what you don’t want and I don’t pay to send MY CRAP, as you so eloquently put it, to you. Only loser is the post office which seems be hurting enough as it is.

    Should recipients be required to “opt out” for every piece of crap that is sent to them through the mail, Mr. Turner? Do you think they would have time for anything else in their lives?

    See above. I’m sure filling out a prohibitory order took longer than it wold have to contact me. My “spam list” is the public tax record. It’s not permission based under any current regulation. One man’s garbage is another man’s treasure. Who says you should determine what your neighbor wants to receive in their mailbox?

    Please let me know if you would like to be removed from our mailing list. Or I can just wait for the prohibitory order.

  3. Prohibitory order? Already filed it, sir.

    Your argument is the same one used by the massive direct mail conglomerates. That is:

    “But gee, what about all the terrific benefits that we provide to that one person who actually likes to get our useless crap in the mail? Why should that one person be penalized because 99.9999% of the citizens in this country throw junk mail away WITHOUT reading (or barely looking at it once it’s been identified). Most of our direct mail crap is recyclable anyway…oh, and hey, trees can grow back again. It’s no big deal. It’s fun!”

    Do you realize how silly you sound? Do you enjoy having your mailbox flooded with crap, sir? I know it happens to you. It happens to everyone. You probably try to think of something else when you get it because you don’t want to admit that you and your company support a wasteful, irritating and unnecessary practice.

    Here’s a tip, Mr. Turner:
    99.9999% of the names you harvested from tax records represent people who DON’T want your crap sent to them. It’s just that most of them don’t take the time to file an order against you to stop it from happening. And for you to say that you’re not violating the preferences of those citizens (those that do NOT wish to receive a truckload of junk mail every year-useless crap that they don’t want) simply because it’s not against the law, is insulting. It does, however, make it clear to everyone what is most important to you: YOUR PREFERENCES, not your theirs.

    (And please don’t pretend that you wouldn’t work with anyone that walked through your door. I’ve never met a real estate agent that refused to sell anything to anyone.)

  4. But you don’t know me. I promise you that if you call and say you want to sell your home and identify yourself I will not work with you. We also turn down any dual agency transaction so have refused to sell in the past. I have no interest in working with an unrealistic seller with an overpriced listing.

    Your tip that 99.9999% don’t want my mailing is no more your place to make the assertion of what your neighbors do or don’t want than it is mine. When I get stuff in the mail I decide what I think is or isn’t junk, not you. If I want off a list I’ll do something about it but I maintain that using a prohibitory order is abuse of the system unless I truly believe that is sexually provocative and I really don’t think you or anyone else can say that our mailing piece was. But you’re right that I don’t get to make that call, the recipient does.

    I should delineate that we are independent contractors, as almost all Realtors are, to our franchise. They do not tell me whether to or not to send postcards. Some Realtors do, some don’t. We are not all the same and we all do things differently. In your case you don’t like one of the things that we do to market homes that we have been hired to sell. I can respect that.

  5. You skin the cat your way and I’ll skin it my way, but you shouldn’t criticize how a prohibitory order is used when you yourself are abusing the system by trolling for names on a list with the singular goal of adding your crap to pile of other crap that people are already forced to endure from other companies like yours, especially since you KNOW most people don’t want to receive the solicitations in the first place.

    Believe it or not, I tried it your way before: I tried calling, emailing, returning by mail unwanted pieces with “remove from mailing list” on the outside, etc. NOTHING WORKED. The companies that rely on the old, buggy-whipped system of dumping hundreds and hundreds of pounds of unwanted crap on people each year just couldn’t see it clear to delete me from their lists. NOT ONE. Their (and your) system is set up for MASS DISTRIBUTION ONLY, not accommodating individual preferences.

    But lo and behold, I discovered the United States Postal Service Prohibitory Order. I even researched it and learned that after the form was introduced in the 1970’s, Congress added a clarification to the law stating that the RECIPIENT gets to determine what is offensive and what is not in a mailpiece. They did this, undoubtably, because they knew that slimy mass marketers would try to argue that the material that THEY send isn’t objectionable or offensive at all.

    Sound familiar? You can try and distance yourself all you want with “we are independent contractors”, blah, blah, blah, but you are the problem, sir.

    So now I use prohibitory orders religiously and at FIRST STRIKE. I don’t wait around for someone like yourself to put themselves in my position or to grow a conscience about diminishing trees on the planet. I just send in the form and the unwanted mail from that company stops, or else the FEDERAL government gets involved. I have also seen that happen. I like it.

    Sorry you don’t like it, but at least you leave me alone now. You should rethink how you do business. People don’t like it. I don’t like it. I don’t do business with companies that do it. It’s offensive to me that you think I wouldn’t care if I’m dumped on with your crap after you’ve found my name on a list somewhere.

    I dare you to print this exchange and mail it to your fatigued and pummeled direct mail list. Then again, it would probably just end up in the trash with the rest of that day’s junk. But honestly, I wouldn’t know if you mailed it or not, because happily, I don’t receive mail from your company anymore.

  6. The distinction is very important as the prohibitory order, the only one I have ever received, is to me and my business not any of the other 500+ independent contractors to Prudential Northwest Properties. I have no idea what they are or aren’t sending out.

    You never referenced my “Do not mail” concept. Wouldn’t that solve the problem?

    Our method of direct mailing may be shared by conglomerates and the like but in this case we are also neighbors. We might run into each other at the park, the store and our kids might be in the same class. You must have kids as the letter from the post office states as much. You can see my house from yours. Welcome to the neighborhood.

    Your argument against direct mail is a worthy discussion. I doubt we send more than 5000 pieces a year which may be 5000 too many but your method of presenting it through the federal government obscures the message for me. I don’t know that MOST people don’t want them, I know you don’t want them. I do know that others do want them as they have taken the action suggested in them. My system would have totally accommodated your preference but you predetermined it wouldn’t.

    You religiously use a system that says you find mail pieces provocative. That’s your at your discretion, not mine. It takes the printed form, the envelope it is mailed in, your stamp, the postal worker that processes it, the three page letter from the post office I got, the envelope it was mailed in and the mail carrier to deliver it to me (and presumably the post office accounted for the return postage and kept at least one copy of the letter) just to get off a list that I would have happily removed you from. That’s seven sheets of paper and two envelopes plus labor and stamps. Looks like we should both plant a tree or two.

    As soon as I hit submit here I’ll repost it on FaceBook and get the word out without killing another tree. You can share it and let it go viral.

  7. There IS a “do not mail” concept in place through the American Marketing Association. I’m registered on it, but because it’s an honor system, too many companies either don’t adhere to it or don’t give a damn (likely) and force their garbage on anyone with an address anyway. This is another reason why I now use a bazooka to combat every occurrence. I realize you don’t agree with my use of prohibitory orders (because it squashes your hope of ever dropping more crap on me), but I like to think of it as an effective “do not mail” system. It works.

    “Welcome to the neighborhood.”
    It’s even more inconsiderate and insulting that you think I appreciate being inundated with unwanted solicitations from my own neighbor. But it doesn’t really matter if you’re a mammoth conglomerate or my next door neighbor, it’s still violating and inconsiderate and says a lot about you and your business.

    “I don’t know that MOST people don’t want them…”
    Please, you’re embarrassing yourself. If you didn’t have an invested interest to possibly profit from the massive tree carnage or people’s laziness to call you out, you’d be complaining about it, too. It isn’t difficult to follow the money…

    “My system would have totally accommodated your preference but you predetermined it wouldn’t.”
    You assume that it would be okay to harvest my name and address in the first place to send me mailings that I never asked for. IT’S NOT. It’s condescending and arrogant to just assume people’s homes are so open that you can just dump your crap into them. By doing so, you are no better than the direct mail conglomerates that you try to distance yourself from.

    “That’s seven sheets of paper and two envelopes plus labor and stamps. Looks like we should both plant a tree or two.”
    The difference is, I use seven sheets to stop 700. You just keep chopping down trees to solicit the faceless names on some list you paid someone to harvest for you. There’s a difference and you know it.

  8. At this point I agree to disagree. I know that some people want and some people don’t want my mailings which are targeted to the neighborhood as news or information about what is going on in that neighborhood (market data, open houses, etc). You know what you want, what your neighbors want and what I know. I can’t debate with that.

    I realize you don’t agree with my use of direct mail but I like to think of it as an effective “marketing” system. It works. Just not with you.

  9. It works if you can look the other way while you contribute to millions of trees being destroyed in the name of your “market data” and your “news” that 99.9999% of the population does NOT want to receive.

    Oh, and it also works if you don’t give a damn about other people and their privacy.

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