The Vilna Shul: We just don’t feel like removing you from our mailing list

By | November 26, 2009

November 26, 2009

Jack Swartz, President
The Vilna Shul
18 Phillips Street
Boston, MA 02114

Dear Mr. Swartz,

I am writing to you because my efforts over the past two years to resolve this matter through The Vilna Shul’s executive director, Steven Greenberg, have been unsuccessful.

Over two years ago, I embarked upon an ambitious effort to eliminate the junk mail – paper mail delivered by the postal service, not junk email – that our family receives. These mailings are bad for the environment because of the resources consumed by producing and transporting them. Furthermore, they are a waste of money for the organizations and companies that send them, because we don’t actually read them.

Eliminating all the junk mail was an ambitious undertaking, because my wife and I support many non-profit organizations, and they all felt the need to write to us at least once per year, and in many cases much more often than that. Furthermore, the non-profits we support sometimes rent and sell their mailing lists to others to whom we have not donated in the past.

Therefore, for over two years, I have contacted every company and organization that has sent us junk mail and asked each of them to remove us from its mailing list. This has been a very time-consuming process, but it has also been very successful. The vast majority of institutions I have contacted have been more than willing to remove us from their lists and have had no trouble doing so. Unfortunately, there have been a few marked exceptions. I’m sorry to say that The Vilna Shul is one of them.

Please consider the following timeline:

November 16, 2007 I first asked The Vilna Shul to remove me from your list. I received no response.
December 11, 2007 I received another mailing.
May 10, 2008 I received another mailing.
May 12, 2008 I asked again to be removed.
May 12, 2008 You responded, “we took you off the email list but not the mail list – you have now been removed from that list also.” This response was funny because I had not in fact ever been on your email list.
May 9, 2009 I received another mailing.
May 11, 2009 I asked again to be removed.
May 12, 2009 You apologized and said the mailing was sent by mistake.
July 9, 2009 I received another mailing.
July 10, 2009 I sent a strongly worded complaint and asked yet again to be removed.
July 10, 2009 I received a response from Mr. Greenberg, “The Legacy invitation only went out by mail and we do not consider that to be useless mail. It is our major fundraiser.”
July 10, 2009 I sent Mr. Greenberg an even more strongly worded complaint explaining that it was my prerogative, not his, to decide what mailings were and were not “useless” to me, that it was a violation of my privacy for The Vilna Shul to continue sending us mailings after we had asked to stop, and that if I received any further mailings, I would post on my popular consumer-advocacy blog about how The Vilna Shul wastes its money and disrespects the wishes of its donors, as well as filing paperwork with the U.S. Postal Service to block further mailings from The Vilna Shul to my address.Mr. Greenberg did not respond.
November 25, 2009 I received another mailing. Apparently, in addition to not responding, Mr. Greenberg also did not remove me from your mailing list as I’d (repeatedly) requested.

By my count, that’s five requests to be removed from your mailing list, five mailings received since my first request, five failures by your staff to successfully handle a simple mailing-list removal request, and one entirely unacceptable response from your executive director.

As I told Mr. Greenberg on July 10, my wife and I will no longer be donating to your organization, because we do not support organizations which waste their money, damage the environment, and disrespect their supporters.

What are you going to do about this?


Jonathan Kamens

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