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Friday, July 14, 2006

Why I'll never give a nickel to Catholic Relief Services

I hate marketers. I pay the phone company serious money to keep them off my telephone. I have spam blockers trying (vainly, some days) to keep them off my corner of the internet. I refuse to talk to them when they ring my doorbell.

And when the sales pitches fill up my snail mailbox, I just throw them, unopened, into a basket to be shredded. I wish I could just throw them directly into the recycling, but of course nowadays you should first shred anything with your name on it so that the tweakers don't come by and steal it out of your recycling. So to the shredder it all goes. I recycle a bag of shredded junk every few weeks or so.

And the marketing weasels know this. So they've come up with several new ploys to stop you from shredding the junk mail before you open it. The most insidious of these is the inclusion of metal objects in the mailings -- one group actually stuck in a nickel, but other types of tokens are becoming common. If you don't open the envelope and take out the metal piece, it will hurt your shredder, perhaps fatally.

I just got one of these today from an outfit known as Catholic Relief Services. Here's the insert in the envelope:

And here's the nasty little surprise waiting for my shredder -- a slug about the size of a quarter:

Well, I caught it in time. And hey, clever marketer, I opened the envelope, and even read the contents! But here's something I don't think you were counting on. I'm telling this tale to all the world, and urging anyone who reads this not to give any money to Catholic Relief Services until they publicly announce that they're ending this particularly vicious marketing practice. Keep this gift as a reminder of the people whose shredders you wrecked.

Guardian angel, my eye. You'll suffer in purgatory for that, you evil creeps!

Comments (1)

Why can't you recycle the paper after it's been shredded? I do it all the time.

Posted by: arne at July 14, 2006 04:19 PM

Oh, I do. But first I have to shred it. I'll edit a bit to clarify that.

Posted by: Jack Bog at July 14, 2006 04:22 PM

BTW, if readers have other examples of this, let me know and I'll publish them. Maybe we can get a little boycott list going.

Posted by: Jack Bog at July 14, 2006 04:47 PM

The thing that bugs me with a lot of charity fundraising is that it's outsourced to a third-party company that keeps a percentage of the money collected.

Posted by: Sam at July 14, 2006 04:53 PM

According to give.org, only 3% of contributions go to their fund-raising activities.


Seems like a pretty efficient operation (esp. compared to, e.g., the AARP -- fundraising = 16% of contributions.)

Posted by: Res Ipsa at July 14, 2006 05:09 PM

Any time someone sends me a unsolicited solicitation that includes a postage-paid reply envelope, I fill the envelope full of junk and mail it back to them.

Posted by: Hinckley at July 14, 2006 05:49 PM

I've learned to live with the junk, the shredding, but this is my breaking point.

Posted by: Jack Bog at July 14, 2006 06:18 PM

I will never give to Christian Childrens Fund because when my insomnia kicks in and I watch tv in the middle of the night, there's a creepy-looking old white guy getting a little too close to the kids in other countries -- during every commercial break.

Posted by: Alan Bluehole at July 14, 2006 07:16 PM

Not to nitpick, but didn't the Church do away with purgatory?

Posted by: Frank Dufay at July 14, 2006 09:30 PM

Who will feed the Illegal Aliens?

Posted by: Abe at July 14, 2006 10:57 PM

There will always be a purgatory -- if not a hell-- for marketing people.

Posted by: Jack Bog at July 15, 2006 12:29 AM

I once found a five dollar bill in an invitation to participate in a survey. I don't know why I opened it, other than my shredder chokes on thicker envelopes.

Posted by: Ron Ledbury at July 15, 2006 12:39 AM

Get the USPS to specify that only recycleable paper be in a bulk mail the envelope. No fake coins, mock credit cards, BVM medals, key chains.

Posted by: Matt Jusinski at July 15, 2006 02:53 AM

And what about the credit card cos now putting in a fake card that you have to cut in two and then dispose of , all to stop it clogging your shredder

Posted by: haha at July 15, 2006 11:03 AM

And what about the credit card cos now putting in a fake card that you have to cut in two and then dispose of , all to stop it clogging your shredder

Cost-Co has a shredder for 79.99 that can handle those things like a knife cutting through butter.

Posted by: Dave J. at July 15, 2006 04:49 PM

What am I missing? I don't worry about throwing away stuff with just my name and address on it -- I'm in the phone book, after all.

Posted by: Allan L. at July 15, 2006 09:46 PM

If it sits out in front of your house overnight in your trash, anything with your name on it matches your name with your address, and gives a thief an immediate view of your lifestyle, perhaps your license plate number, and the security of your house. Not to mention envelopes that show your bank, stock broker, credit card companies, etc. To me that's way worse than just a name and a number in the phone book.

Posted by: Jack Bog at July 15, 2006 10:00 PM

So that's why they put that stuff in there, to break your shredder? And then you'd contribute, right? Doesn't sound like the strategy won you over. Perhaps there are other reasons.

I, unfortunately, am neurotic enough to open the junk mail and only shred the stuff with my name on it, then put the rest in a different recycling bag. And throw away the plastic, even though I can shred it. It's so wrong and tedious, but I can't help it.

I gave to CRS for some years. As mentioned elsewhere here, they are a reputable charity with low overhead. Perhaps (I hope) they're just misguided on this one.

Posted by: Tom R at July 15, 2006 10:18 PM

Hmmmmm, my CRS envelope came with a little plastic "window" where you could see the same little coin thru it. It's sitting on my desk .... and the paper was shredded.

Posted by: Mark K at July 16, 2006 09:58 AM

Thats weird. Never seen anything like this. And I get probably a dozen marketing mailings a week.

Personally, I like to open the offending item, remove anything with my name on it for the shredder, then send anything left back to them in their postage-paid return envelope. Make'em pay for their crap, even if its a small amount. Some of the credit card companies have become savvy to this, however. Now they put a barcode on the flap of the return envelope to try and identify who they are getting stuff returned from. I just cut that out before I seal the envelope.

Posted by: Jon at July 17, 2006 08:05 AM

There will always be a purgatory -- if not a hell-- for marketing people.

I like Bill Hicks' screed against advertisers/marketers. (I'll just link to it in case anyone's delicate sensibilities are offended by Mr. Hicks' language.)

Posted by: raging red at July 17, 2006 11:06 AM

if you're not smart enough to take non-paper items out of your mail before shredding you deserve to ruin more than your machinery....

Posted by: Jen at July 17, 2006 04:00 PM

But Jen, even I would like to be able to just shred the stuff with as little effort as possible. It's not just because we're not as smart as you.

Having to sort it and decompose it and all is a lot like not being able to answer my land line anymore because the calls are never real. It is an imposition.

Why is the onus upon us?

I think I'm going to adjust my methods more to Jon's tack. At least I could take some pride in returning the volleys.

And, like Mark K. (I'm guessing), I'm wondering why, after all the other nonsense, I have that silly ersatz coin sitting on my desk...

Posted by: Tom R. at July 18, 2006 12:01 AM

Maybe the Guardian Angel coin had something to do with you NOT shredding the envelope to begin with.....mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

Posted by: g at July 20, 2006 07:45 AM

[Posted as indicated; restored later.]

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