The postman, junk mail and the rest of us.

This little story on the Guardian Yesterday which I paste below is indicative of what are the jerk reactions of agents operating in a system which rely on rigid lines of separation across social roles. The postman of this story thought he was not only doing himself a favour in reducing the amount of useless junk mail he had to deliver every day. nojunkmail.jpgQuite reasonably he also believed to do the rest of us a favour in giving us an easy way out of the same daily mountains of junk mail. Not to talk about the broader positive implication that a reduction of the same junk would have, in principle,  on the environment. In a word, a win win situation, in which alternatives were ingeniously and simply practiced through commons established across social roles. . . pity that Royal Mail does not seem to appreciate this. However the story will end, it will depends on the power relations on the gorund, on the ability of one part or the other to mobilise pressure. truashremoval.jpgBut for us what is interesting is precisely the jerk reaction of Royal Mail showing it has somehow a problem with the simple initiative of the postman: quite reasonable reaction from the perspective of the value practice of a profit-seeking company, but quite stupid and unreasonable from the perspective of other vaue practices, those that want to minimise useless work and environmental destruction. The fundamental line of clash among value practices in a simple news item! 

Postman who fought junk mail loses round

Royal Mail worker fears he will get sorting office job

Homes on route received advice how to opt out

Matthew Taylor

Wednesday September 27, 2006

The Guardian

A postman suspended for telling his customers how to stop unsolicited adverts and leaflets clogging up their letterboxes was reinstated yesterday after a nationwide backlash against junk mail.But Roger Annies said he had been told he would not get his old round back and feared relegation to a sorting office job.   

Mr Annies was disciplined after Royal Mail bosses discovered he had delivered his own leaflet to houses on his south Wales round highlighting a little-known opt-out clause which can stop unwanted mailshots. He was suspended on full pay but the subsequent publicity led tens of thousands of people to join the direct mail rebellion.

Yesterday the Direct Marketing Association said 200,000 extra people had signed up to the Mailing Preference Service, which removes people’s details from companies’ mailing lists, since Mr Annies delivered his leaflet four weeks ago.

Royal Mail said it did not have specific figures but its switchboard had been jammed with callers wanting to find out how to stop so-called “door to door” items.

Mr Annies said last night he had been told at a disciplinary hearing that he would not return as a regular postman.

“They have made it clear that I will not be doing what I was before and I am not happy with that,” he told the Press Association. “I feel that they are trying to shut me away from the public so nobody can see me.”

Mr Annies drafted his leaflet after being inundated with complaints about junk mail. The note read: “You may have noticed your postman now has to deliver anonymous advertising material called door to door items. This means a lot more unwanted post in your letterbox.

“You might be interested in reducing your unwanted mail and reduce paper usage in order to help save the environment. If you complete the slip below and send it to the Royal Mail delivery office you will no longer receive door to door advertising items.”

Within days his local sorting office at Barry had received scores of completed slips. He was suspended on full pay while Royal Mail bosses investigated. Amarjite Singh, acting south-east Wales area representative for the Communication Workers’ Union, said: “We’re glad with the outcome that they haven’t dismissed him.”

There are two types of junk mail: direct mail addressed to an individual and door to door mail marked for “the occupier”.

The Mailing Preference Service removes names from about 95% of junk mail lists - it can take four months for the mail to stop completely - but does not stop unsolicited leaflets and adverts from overseas or small local firms, or mail not addressed to an individual. The Royal Mail’s opt-out service stops leaflets it delivers addressed to “the occupier” - about 25% of the overall market.

The Direct Marketing Association says more than a third of recipients respond “positively” to direct mail.

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