City Desk

If You Don’t Get It, Good!

The Washington Post burns through its share of paper. Its Sunday edition alone, bulked up by a sheath of advertising inserts and classified ads, can tip the scales at around 2½ pounds. That, of course, is just for the people who want it.

The Post Co. also distributes its brand to people who don’t request it. Logan Circle resident Michael Sirvet says he’s been getting something called the Washington Post Shopping Guide "forever." When he finds the weekly promotional piece in his mailbox, he follows a simple routine that involves throwing it away.

The guide, however, became something more than an annoyance when Sirvet came back from a vacation. "I had 10 days of mail with these two papers smashed up," says the 41-year-old Sirvet. "It was getting in the way of my other mail."

The Post, for Sirvet at least, has turned into the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs. He claims that since the beginning of this year, he’s called the paper more than 10 times in a futile effort to get himself removed from the mailing list. "The first couple of times, they were nice. After the third or fourth time, I asked to talk to a supervisor," he says.

“"It just boggles my mind. It’s now kind of humorous in a Kafka–esque way.…It’s a waste of paper," says Sirvet, a self-described "tree hugger." After repeated pleas to the Post, Sirvet even called the U.S. Postal Service to ask whether it could stop a particular piece of mail from ending up in his box. The answer was no.

Rima Calderon, vice president for communications and external relations at the Post Co., declined to answer most questions about Sirvet and the shopping guide, including basic ones about who gets the guide and how many editions are mailed out each week. Calderon did say, however, that Sirvet is the only opt-out problem the guide’s staff is aware of.

Last week, Sirvet received the Sept. 18 shopping guide, which contained pullouts from Shoppers and Rite Aid.

"I’m just not a big shopper,” says Sirvet. "I’m not a heavy-duty consumer. There are people who use coupons—I just don’t use them that often."

(City Paper photograph by Darrow Montgomery)

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  • group of lovlies

    What a handsome devil!

  • http://monodrone.org/jeffgerhard jeff gerhard

    The Washington Post Shopping Guide is absolutely a nuisance. I often get three or more copies, mixed up with neighbors', filling the mailbox to a straining point. It's totally annoying. On a rainy day this becomes, like, 5 pounds of trash.

  • Lily Stark White

    He is the Lorax! He needs no Thneed!

  • Mab, Just Mab

    I have tried to get them to stop delivering too. They keep coming. If you figure out how to stop this inane waste, please share!

  • Mike

    Wow thank you so much for addressing this. Many people are frustrated by these mailings but, as Mr. Sirvet found out, there is simply nobody to complain to so that's why so few people have tried to opt out. In my old apartment building on the days they'd spam us, there were dozens of these stuffed in the trashcan adjacent the mailboxes.

  • http://readwriterachel.com Rachel

    I tried to opt out and after being transferred between departments 3 or 4 times, someone told me that "the post office mails them out and you should talk to them." How do you even respond to that kind of stupid?

  • heh

    You know the EXAMINER is even worse with this...I had to get the Montgomery County Council after them when they continued to deliver to my house after promising not to. And even now in my new location, their papers STILL end up on my grass, sometimes killing it. Paying to litter is still littering, and SPAM is SPAM! Now they are chucking their rags onto the MARC train too, so I have to kick it onto the floor in order to sit down.

  • rcr

    I waiting for the part where somebody did some journalism, maybe told us what we could do collectively to get this to stop. Everybody hates the shopper's guide. That's not news.

  • Ernest

    It is very wrong of the Post Co. to do so.

  • Beth

    So glad to see this - At our last 3 apartments, I've gone through the frustrating process of getting ourselves off the Shopping Guide's mailing list. Eventually, it worked every time. But of course, I neglected to save the guy's name and number when I finally got to the bottom of it. Good luck to those still trying. For small mailboxes, these pamphlets really do get in the way and more mail gets crushed.

  • Peggy

    I do so hate consumerism.

  • Ernest

    You do consume vodka & tonics.

  • Patrick

    I believe you can opt out of all junk mail at dmachoice.org.

  • Cait

    I wanted to get a Sunday only subscription, but they consistently deliver all days of the week. When I called they told me that the other days were free, a deal they were running, but I can't read all the other days! AH!

  • rob

    i've also been wondering for awhile now how to get this crap to stop coming. it's insane.

    someone commented to me the other day that it's mailings like these that keep the USPS in business. they'd go under without it. fine by me. if they can't stay up and running without the paper equivalent of spam, then something's not right.

  • chug

    HobnobBlog.com says:

    Update: We received an email that you can be removed by calling 202-334-7730. Let us know if that works.

  • billy

    Call 202-334-7730 and ask to be removed. The pain will then be finished.

  • Andrew

    I just called 202-334-7730. I was asked for my address and zip. Then the man said that I "would receive one more mailing in a few days then it will stop". We shall see.

  • # didn’t work

    I've called the number 202-334-7730 which is answered by a machine. I'm to leave my address and I'll be removed from receiving the Shopping Guide after one more delivery.

    It didn't work. I've received several since I first left a message...and just left another message.

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