Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Junkmail Stamps

Prepaid annoyance compensation
  [vote for,

We all hate junkmail, spam, telemarketing etc. However, each individual communication is not in itself hugely damaging.

I propose a system whereby the marketing company prepurchases a fixed number of communication permissions and pays a fee for this dis-service.

Your contact details are managed by the service provider. When you get paid, you give out a dedicated address, email address, or phone number that expires after [number] communications. Thereafter, no further correspondence will be forwarded.

The service provider takes a nominal cut of the fee to cover costs and a little besides. It legally undertakes not to provide your info unless legally obliged to do so (a court order).

The idea would have a number of benefits:

You could donate the money to a charity, or use it to increase your bandwidth, or whatever.

Having paid for a limited resource, junk mailers would jealously guard your details and wouldn't sell the address to all and sundry for almost nothing.

Commercial communications would get through to the indended recipients (no more mail posted to "Mr Michael Mouse, of Disney Corp, The Sea of Tranquility, the Moon.")

The cost of spamming would go up, but only marginally, and marketers would carefully target their advertising, so my mother would get fewer offers to "increase the size of her p*nis" and more offers for designer teddy bears, which she collects.

FloridaManatee, Mar 19 2003


       I already use expiring contact details whenever possible in dealings with businesses.   

       * I use spamhole for my email.   

       * I use disposable, forwarding phone accounts, on GSM SIM cards for phone numbers.   

       * I use post office boxes for my physical address.   

       It's just all a bit complicated.
FloridaManatee, Mar 19 2003

       But quite cool. You get to pretend you're a shadowy figure, which you may well be for all I know.
sild, Mar 19 2003

       How would the system be implemented (voluntarily, through legislation)? Also, I'm not sure I see what the incentive is here for spammers / junk mailers to participate. As I understand it, these kinds of operations run on a volume / bombardment model with which they appear to be pretty happy.
snarfyguy, Mar 19 2003

RayfordSteele, Mar 19 2003

       Incentives: Only one - they get to reach you.   

       This idea does not require legislation - it is just as it is classified - an advertising media business idea.   

       It's a compensated limited opt-in system. You the consumer subscribe to the service. The advertiser pays for the right to contact you a certain number of times.   

       There are two or three possible implementation options:   

       (1) You buy the stamps for a cent each (or similar) and then sell them to the advertiser at whatever price you agree. The forwarder has coded the stamps with your ID, the serial number and an encryption checksum.   

       (2) The advertiser contacts the forwarder and selects you based on the profile you have provided (it can be as complete or vague as you decide, but there's no name or contact details). It pays the forwarder for all communications successfully forwarded and you get a check at the end of the month for your hassles.   

       The third is not quite the same. Unlike the above, it is not a source of income to you, but a service.   

       (3) You fill out a webform and the that requires your address. Your apartment number, email or extension number c/o the forwarder is encoded with your ID, serial number and checksum and they are permitted only two (or more as desired) contacts, sufficient to deliver your ordered product. The next hundred mailings etc. are not forwarded. You pay a nominal fee for the postage, protection and annonymity.   


       Why does this work?   

       (1) Because costs are minimal   

       Costs are kept down because everything is automated. The stamps are automatically issued addresses, phone numbers and email addresses. In the second option, further automation is possible if the forwarder issues barcoded stickers that automate routing and the printing of the forwarding address label.   

       (2) Because it promotes recycling   

       Physical junk mail is recycled in a relatively secure shredding facility. It's more practical and automatic than post-consumer recycling.   

       (3) Because it is flexible   

       Everything is database driven and can be accessed via the internet, email or WAP. You can generate an address code at home, at work, in town, or even in a bar. You can set default preferences, or specialised preferences like:   

       Business Contacts - allow them to call me for the next week, but not at weekends or after seven.   

       Internet orders - forward the first three mailings only, but not after the first month.   

       You can change preferences: The order messed up and I'm expecting to receive responses to complaints to accounts and customer services - extend the forwarding for a month and no limit to number of contacts.   


       I am actually toying with the idea of setting this up. The only considerations not yet considered are the legal aspects and how to limit the service.   

       If the owners of the fishbones would kindly state their reasons, this could potentially help me avoid a business mistake.   

       I'm not, however, too attached to it, or I wouldn't have posted it here. If anyone wants to run with it as their own business, email me and I'll discuss the details and maybe send you some flowcharts, etc.
FloridaManatee, Mar 19 2003

       No wonder it took you so long to reply.
snarfyguy, Mar 19 2003


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