Limitations on the U.S. Postal Service “Prohibitory Order” for junk-mail prevention

By | August 7, 2016

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If you’re anti-junk-mail (the paper stuff, not email spam) like I am, then you may have seen people recommend using a a U.S. Postal Service Prohibitory Order to stop junk mail from a particular sender when nothing else works.

In a nutshell, you fill out a form telling the Postal Service that you consider the mailings from this sender “to be erotically arousing or sexually provocative and therefore… a pandering advertisement.” Courts have ruled that whether or not a particular mailing falls into that category is solely at the discretion of the recipient and can’t be questioned by the Postal Service, so in effect you can use a Prohibitory Order on anybody.

Except you can’t.

I have been trying to get junk mail from Comcast to stop for more than six years (I’ve written about this before). Just to give you an idea of the scope of the problem, I’ve received no less than 151 mailings from them.

Recently, I tried yet again to get them to stop. In the resulting email exchange, I learned that they do remove people from their own mailing list. However, in addition to that list, they pay bulk-mailing companies to mail every single address in an area many times per year. Although Comcast could provide these bulk-mailing companies with a do-not-mail list of addresses which should be scrubbed from their mailings, they refuse to do so. Comcast simply refuses to to do what is necessary to stop sending junk mail to people.

In the 8+ years I have been fighting junk mail, Comcast is one of only two senders which have refused to do what is necessary to make it stop, out of over 350 that I’ve contacted. (The other, Vanguard Realty, also deserves your eternal scorn.)

That pissed me off enough that I decided to do something that I’ve never done before: use a Prohibitory Order to get Comcast to stop. So I printed out USPS Form 1500, filled it in, and mailed it off. A week or two later, it was returned to me with a rejection slip which read as follows:

Original mail piece was addressed to [“ECRWSS Local Resident Customer”, Our Neighbor; Current Resident, etc.] (no addressee name/address). Mailer will not have addressee name and address in their mailing database to remove.

Score: Comcast 151+, Jik 0.



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6 thoughts on “Limitations on the U.S. Postal Service “Prohibitory Order” for junk-mail prevention

  1. Will McLeod

    Also file a complaint with the FCC. That’s what I had to do with Spectrum.

  2. R. F.

    Another offensive company is Courant ValuMail, owned by the Hartford Courant newspaper.

    I have been trying for at least 20 years to get them to stop. While there used to be a Customer Service (so-called) rep in Hartford, they now use a calling center in the Philippines. The guys who answer the phones are good guys, but have no authority except to ‘escalate’ your request. As stated, 20 years and counting…

    I know I have their attention because my name and street were removed, although the town and zip code were not. Later Current Resident was added in lieu of a name. I was duplicated on the list – to receive 2 copies on alternate months, then for a while 3 copies. It is now back to 2.

  3. Stan Protigal

    For USPS EDDM mail (Every Door Direct Mail), a sender with a Prohibitory Order must provide an exclusion list to the carrier. The complaint to the Post Office Supervisor (and if necessary USPS Customer Complaints) should reference the fact of the Prohibitory Order and that either the mailer did not include the address on the exclusion list or the letter carrier mis-delivered the mail.

    1. jik Post author

      Unfortunately the mailings from Comcast aren’t EDDM; they have addresses printed on them.

      If you’re right about EDDM—and I’m not in a position to know one way or the other—then it’s pretty egregious that the USPS will allow Form 1500 to be used for EDDM, but not for a printed address with “current resident” above it.

      Or perhaps the person at the USPS who processed my Form 1500 was just an idiot who failed to follow the rules. :shrug:

  4. Anonymous

    I have successfully used Form 1500 against Comcast. Just wait for the next piece you get from them with your address on it, and try again.

    Out of about 10 companies I’ve issued Prohibitory Orders against, Comcast was the only one that I ever needed to send a “Dear Post Office, the company is violating your Order” letter on. But that letter successfully stopped their mailings until I moved, years later.

    1. jik Post author

      Comcast sends out two types of mailings: the ones that are addressed by name to the people at particular addresses, and he generic ones that are sent to everyone in a geographic area.

      A Form 1500 can be used for the former type of mailings, but — at least according to the response I got from the post office, as shown above — it can’t be used on the latter type.

      Were you able to use a From 1500 to stop mailings from Comcast addressed to “current resident” or “postal customer” and not to you by name?


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