We’re not great at checking our mail.  It’s delivered in one of those boxes on the corner – you know, the kind intended to ‘build community’ by encouraging everyone to chat while gathering the latest appeals to change wireless providers?  In the six plus years we’ve lived here, I’ve run into neighbors at the mailbox exactly twice.

Ours is conveniently located in a low area that attracts water, which provides the added recreational challenge of navigating a swamp-in-training for the privilege of recycling the latest Pennysaver.

One of my favorite features of these mailboxes is the determination of the occasional mail delivery person, in direct defiance of the laws of physics, to wedge any package smaller than a washing machine into a space about the size of a shoebox.  They could teach Chris Angel a thing or two about technique.

Today I went to the mailbox to discover what I thought was a JC Penney catalogue, circa 1980. I wrestled it out, quite literally wedging a foot against the front of the box for leverage.  Were they mailing phone books now?

It was a catalog.  A 615 page catalog.

I couldn’t imagine what company, in this day and age, would think that a 615 page mailer would be a lucrative and successful marketing decision.

The answer?  Restoration Hardware.

I’ve been in the store several times.  I don’t know when I lost my mind and decided that it would be a good idea to give them my mailing address – I went through a mailing purge several years ago that only left a handful of retailers standing, after all.  Maybe once a year I’d receive a reasonably-sized catalog from them – never enough to set off any alarms.

Until today.

I wasn’t in the house for 5 minutes before I was on the phone, speaking with a customer service representative.

“How can I help you?”

“I’d like to be removed from your mailing list.”

“May I ask if you’ve decided to use a different company?”

“No, but I certainly don’t need 615 pages of soon-to-be-recycled catalog.”

Now, I am by no means Captain Sustainability, but I do try.  This mailing offended me on several levels.  First, the sheer waste.  Second, who can afford to produce and mail a catalog that large?  And if they can afford that, can I afford their products?  Third, I generally prefer to shop online, so if you want to appeal to me, send me a small mailing featuring select products that might tempt me onto your website.  Finally, I happen to enjoy reading, but even my mind boggles at the thought of leafing through 615 pages of merchandise.

The customer service representative, who was very kind and understanding, did say, “You know, you might want to stay on the list. You aren’t the first person we’ve heard this from, and I suspect there might be changes on the way.”

“I appreciate that,” I said, “but excess like this demands a response.”  I’m such an activist.

So there you go.

Am I a marketing professional?  Nope.  But I also don’t think my perspective is that unique.  Then again, maybe it is. You could argue that I’m clearly not their target audience, and you’d be right.

The good news is that next time I go to the mailbox to get my latest invitation to switch to Comcast, it won’t require a degree in spatial mathematics, a lever and a small black hole.  It most likely will, however, still require wading boots.


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