Globe Direct: Hey Boston, here’s 34 tons of trash per week on us!

By | February 12, 2014

What would you say if I told you that there’s a Boston business that adds more than 34 tons per week of trash to the City of Boston’s waste stream*, trash that the residents of Boston end up paying to dispose of to the tune of >$100,000 per year**? What would you say if I then told you that the business that does this has managed to figure out how to get other businesses to pay for it, ripping them off in the process?

Ladies and gentlemen of Boston, say hello to “Globe Direct in association with RedPlum”!

Last Fall, our front stoop, and every other front stoop on our block, started being graced with weekly advertising circulars, delivered by the Boston Globe and branded “Globe Direct in association with RedPlum”. I do not read these circulars. Every week, they go straight into the recycling bin. As far as I can tell from the number of circulars I see lying on the ground all week, most of my neighbors don’t read them either.

Of course, that may be in part due to the fact that many weeks the circular doesn’t make it all the way to my and my neighbors’ stoops, but rather ends up on the sidewalk or even in the street. I see the plastic bags full of soggy circulars littering the sidewalk and street all up and down my block, ignored by most residents until someone has the decency to pick them up and throw them away.

I have been trying to get the Globe to stop delivering these circulars to my house since September 2013 with no success. I have contacted the Globe on six separate occasions, via email, via telephone conversations with their offshore customer service department, and most recently via a telephone conversation with someone in their Boston office. I have been told repeatedly that the deliveries would stop, and yet I just received another one today. How many other people do you think the Globe has refused to stop delivering these circulars to even when asked?

Today, I opened up one of these circulars to try yet again to find someone else whom I could ask to make them stop. I was bemused to discover not one, but two full copies of the circular inside the bag. Eureka! The lightbulb came on, and now it all makes perfect sense.

The rates for advertising in these circulars are dependent on their circulation, which is determined primarily by how many copies are printed. Stick extra copies of the circular in some of your bags? Bam! More circulation and more money from advertisers. Continue delivering the circulars to people who’ve asked not to receive them, paying lip service to ineffectual attempts to make the deliveries stop? Bam! More circulation and more money from advertisers. “Deliver” the circulars to every house on a block, when actually delivering them to the houses is too much effort so it’s easier to just leave them sitting on the sidewalk or street? Bam! More “circulation,” more money from advertisers, and cheaper delivery costs!

After almost five months and six failed attempts trying to get the Globe to stop leaving their trash on my stoop, today I finally decided I’d had enough. In addition to this blog posting publicly shaming the Globe for trashing the environment in the process of ripping off advertisers, I’ve also done the following:

  • I sent letters to every one of the advertisers in the circular, explaining in detail how the Globe is ripping them off by lying to boost its circulation numbers;
  • I sent a letter to Mayor Walsh outlining the annual cost to the city of these mailings in terms of trash disposal, litter, and local businesses being ripped off by the Globe, and asking whether there’s anything he can do about it;
  • I sent a letter to RedPlum, the company that actually sells the ads in the circulars, letting them know what the Globe has been doing and asking if there’s anything they can do about it (I’m not holding my breath!); and
  • I sent a letter to the president of Globe Direct, Paul Pelland, letting him know in detail just what I thought about these shenanigans and what I’d done about them today, and promising to continue to send “You’re being ripped off by the Globe!” letters to all new advertisers that appear in future circulars until they stop being delivered to my house.

Will it work? I think it will, but even if it doesn’t, I have to admit that it sure has been cathartic.


*4 oz. = ¼lb. per circular × 272,481 households in Boston = 68,120 lbs. = 34.1 tons per week = 1,771 tons per year. And that’s probaby conservative, given that this week’s circular, which I weighed, is on the light side and that, as previously observed, the Globe has a bad habit of putting multiple circulars in some bags.

**It’s hard to say exactly how much Boston’s trash disposal costs, since the rates it pays vary from year to year, and some years it even gets paid for its recyling instead of paying, and it’s hard to know how many of the circulars end up in trash vs. recycling. Then there’s the fact that the circulars that get left out on the street and get rained on end up weighing a lot more than the dry paper did. But if we use the $82 per ton of trash rate quoted in this article from last fall (which, ironically, was published by the Globe), and estimate that 2/3 of the weight of all the circulars ends up in trash, then we end up with an estimate of $96,822 per year. Throw in the incremental cost of picking up and handling the extra trash, and it pushes you over $100k.


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16 thoughts on “Globe Direct: Hey Boston, here’s 34 tons of trash per week on us!

  1. Brian

    Have you had any success in getting them to stop the deliveries? I’ve tried as well and they have ignored my request.

      1. Brian

        Thanks, I’ll try that.

        Also I’ve never seen the circulars get delivered. Is it done by the post office now or do they still use their own delivery service?

        1. jik Post author

          The delivery used to be done by carriers, but now I believe it’s done by the post office.

  2. Evelyn

    Some of us rely on the Delivery of the weekly circulars to plan grocery shopping. The circulars arrive a few days before the price and products on sale change, so we can plan what we can or cannot buy the current week or wait until the next week for essential food. Those of us on very tight monthly budgets this is very important. The on-line circulars post the day of the change by then it is too late to have a choice, which means sometimes you can’t get enough food.

    I appreciate your concern for about increase use of paper: however all that paper should get recycled.
    The cost of these forms of advertizing is far less costly than most other forms and businesses will advertize to promote and stay in business.

    1. jik Post author

      Some of us rely on the Delivery of the weekly circulars to plan grocery shopping. The circulars arrive a few days before the price and products on sale change… The on-line circulars post the day of the change by then it is too late to have a choice, which means sometimes you can’t get enough food.

      The obvious solution to that is to post the on-line circulars a few days before the price and products on sale change.

      I appreciate your concern for about increase use of paper: however all that paper should get recycled.


      OK, so, first of all, unfortunately, many people don’t recycle.

      Second, recycling circulars mitigates the environmental damage from producing and printing the circulars to begin with. It doesn’t undo the damage. From an environmental standpoint, it would be far better for these circulars not to be printed at all, than for them to be printed and recycled, even if every single one of them were successfully recycles, which is far from the case.

      The cost of these forms of advertizing is far less costly than most other forms and businesses will advertize to promote and stay in business.

      It cannot possibly be true that the cost of printing and distributing these circulars is less than it would cost to put them online.

      Furthermore, I am amused by your assumption that the only reason why these circulars would be printed and distributed is if they were actually a significant money-maker for the people who advertise in them. It’s equally plausible that the companies that advertise in them are clinging to an old, outdated, unsuccessful advertising model because they don’t know what else to do. Keep in mind that the people involved in perpetuating that advertising model have a vesting interest in convincing the people who pay for it that it’s successful, even if it isn’t, to preserve their jobs.

  3. Boston Globe Subscriptions Victim

    The only way to be unsubscribed is by calling 1-800-591-8802 which is unrealistic and they know it. If they do not develop bulk or more convenient opt out methods, they will likely not fare well in the BBB cases set against them.

    We have the same problem in our building of 200 tenants. If you do not check your mail often enough, the mailboxes fill up with Globe Direct mailers and you are unable to receive your real mail. I have contacted the globe. The e-mail address they provide for Unsubscribing just responds with “Subscriber not found” with a long trail of e-mail headers. You must call them at 1-800-591-8802 to be removed, since “” is not in fact how to unsubscribe.

    Furthering the BBB complaints against the Globe direction In association with redplum would do service.

    Please provide an online form for residential users to submit do not contact and stop physical mailing of your bulky mailers “Boston Globe direct In association with redplum”. Not having an online form to request unsubscribe is against Massachusetts Privacy Laws and subject to escalate the various BBB complaints against the Globe physical mailers, clogging residential mailboxes and abuse of the “Current Resident” clause in advertising for former tenants in apartment buildings. The “unsubscribe” information provided “” is wrong and leads to a response that says subscriber does not exist. It’s not practical for 100 users to telephone you to have their information removed.

    Thank you for your Time,

    Current Resident

    Escalation points:

    Timothy MarkenChief Growth Officer617-929-2336timothy.marken@globe.comTed PetersenDirector of Advertising, Key Accounts617-929-7080ted.petersen@globe.comJonathan FadorDirector of Sponsorships617-929-2645jonathan.fador@globe.comAutomotiveTom DrislaneDirector of Automotive617-929-8633tom.drislane@globe.comCorporate/EducationAnthony MerulloDivisional Sales Manager, Corporate617-929-2337anthony.merullo@globe.comDesign New EnglandMolly CampbellPublisher, Design New England617-929-2101molly.campbell@globe.comDigital SalesMichael BentleyDirector of Digital ExperientialScott HalsteadDirector of Event Marketing/BGM Experiential617-929-2582scott.halstead@globe.comGlobe Magazine/Co-opCandice GeersManager of Integrated Business Development617-929-8597 candice.geers@globe.comLocal AdvertisingJoseph BrancaleoneDivisional Sales Manager617-929-2696joseph.brancaleone@globe.comRadioBDCJohn LavasseurDivisional Sales Manager617-929-7859John.Lavasseur@globe.comRetailMary KellyDirector of National and Retail Advertising617-929-2146mary.kelly@globe.comReal estateAndrea CommossReal Estate Supervisor617-929-8430andrea.commoss@globe.comTravel/Arts & EntertainmentTed PetersenDirector of Advertising617-929-7080ted.petersen@globe.comBusiness DevelopmentJane BowmanVice President, Sales Development and Marketing617-929-8434jane.bowman@globe.comRecruitmentPatricia EvansRecruitment/Help Wanted

  4. Pingback: #GlobeDelivery also fails to NOT deliver to people who don’t | Something better to do

  5. DRGA

    PCF also “delivers” the hard-copy Globe and Times in my community. PCF is extremely nonresponsive and robotic whenever I call with a complaint. I believe that PCF is a spin-off of what in the old days was the Globe’s inhouse distribution arm. Apart from the journalism that the Globe produces (which I respect), anything related to the business side of the Globe is 2nd rate and unprofessional. On behalf of the not-for-profit organization I worked for, I used to produce supplements to the Globe, which were intended to be distributed by zone. In virtually all cases there were issues regarding whether the supplements were actually distributed. I am not alleging deliberate rip-off; what I can attest to is pure incompetence and nonresponsiveness. If PCF is indeed the legacy of a former inhouse operation, the bad seed DNA has been handed down.

    1. Slick

      Everyone should mail their unwanted circulars (or at least a piece of it to reduce the postage expense) to John Henry’s doorstep.

  6. JPG

    I’ve actually found myself wondering about liability. Because while your circulars get delivered all over the sidewalk, mine get … delivered all over the sidewalk. But one invariably ends up on my front step, where I have on several occasions stepped down on the plastic bag, and slipped. If your delivery service places a (unwanted, un-seeable in the normal course of stepping out the door) slippery object on someone’s front steps and they are injured on it, are you or the service liable?

  7. Jesse

    I’ve witnessed the Globe Direct deliver guy in my neighborhood in Cambridge. He just drives slowly down the street, early in the morning, tossing the circulars willy-nilly on door steps…no doubt without any regard to requests for them *not* to be delivered to certain addresses!

  8. jik Post author

    One of the advertisers that I contacted yesterday about the circulars was Globe Life And Accident Insurance Company of Oklahoma City.

    A few hours later, I received a brain-dead response informing me that they had added me to their do-not-mail list. I wrote back and told them their answer had nothing to do with what I wrote and asked them to please read what I wrote again and forward it to someone within their organization who could respond appropriately. They responded:

    Please be advised, that we are Globe Life of Oklahoma, and have no affiliation with a Globe Life Boston. I am sorry you’re receiving these mailings from them, however, the previous representative advised you that we have removed you from our mailing list.

    I responded:

    I got the URL of your web site from an advertising pamphlet which was placed inside the circular I received yesterday.

    I used the contact form on that same web site to contact you.

    I contacted you because the pamphlet with your URL on it was distributed inside a circular whose distributors are lying to advertisers about their circulation to boost their ad rates, and I thought whoever at your company made the decision to pay for that pamphlet to be in that circular would want to know that.

    But sure, if you’d rather continue to fail to understand the point of my message to you, and continue to get ripped off by the folks you’re buying circular space from in the Boston area, by all means, go right ahead.

    In response, they once again send me a form letter informing me that they had removed me from their mailing list.

    I’d recommend against buying insurance from this company unless you like doing business with a company staffed by illiterate morons.

  9. jik Post author

    I received this voicemail message this morning from Shaw’s, one of the businesses that advertises in these circulars:

    Good morning, this is [name elided] calling from Shaw’s supermarket. I’m looking for Jonathan Kamens, and I’m responding to a complaint that you had voiced regarding the Boston Globe and the distribution of circulars in their alternate delivery method in your area. We have had several complaints about their alternate delivery and we are working with the Globe and our media company to try and persuade them to go back to the mail and inserting them in the paper. That’s not something that I can tell you that we have had success with yet, but we’re really working to make sure that the situation improves. We are paying good money as you have stated to have these materials delivered and don’t feel that they are being delivered in the appropriate manner. However, it’s ongoing, and we’re trying to improve the situation. I want you to be aware of that and I want to thank you for your call; we do appreciate your bringing this to our attention. My number is [phone number elided] if you would like to give me a call back, but if not I want you to know that we are working on it.

    I am very impressed with this response. The thing I like most about it is that the caller provided me with her phone number but still gave me all the information I needed in her message and made it clear that I don’t need to call back if I don’t want to.

    Let’s hope Shaw’s is successful at stopping these awful deliveries!

  10. jik Post author

    I received this voicemail message yesterday morning, i.e., the morning after my full frontal assault on Globe Direct:

    Good morning, this is [name elided] from P.C.F., the Globe Direct delivery service, and this message is for Jonathan Kamens. I received a message that you’re receiving delivery, and you had already requested repeatedly to stop it. I do want to apologize for the inconvenience. I have escalated it with the local delivery office, and my phone number is [phone number elided]. That’s [name elided] from P.C.F. [phone number elided]. I am following up on this and once again I do apologize and I do realize that it is our error delivering to [address elided]. Thank you.

    A few things about this message are worth pointing out:

    1. If you’re curious, Publishers Circulation Fulfillment is apparently the company that Globe Direct is paying to deliver the circulars.
    2. Rather than taking ownership of their problem and contacting me with an apology, Globe Direct pawned me off on their subcontractor. Hey, Globe Direct, here’s a clue: even if it’s true that your subcontractor screwed up, the buck stops with you, and you owe me an apology.
    3. Every time I contacted Globe Direct to complain about the deliveries, they used the same language in their response: they had “escalated” my request to the “local delivery office.” I’m betting the result this time is going to be the same as all the previous times, i.e., the deliveries are going to continue. We’ll see.

    If another circular is delivered to my house next week, I’m going to un-elide the name and telephone number of the guy who called me yesterday, and all of you who would rather not be getting these deliveries either can call him directly and complain.


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