December 15, 2014

Secular Organizations Should Make it Easy to Opt Out of Receiving Mail

English: Automatic sorters inside a major post...
Automatic sorters inside a major postal facility. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I have what will strike some of you as a fairly trivial complaint that applies to most of the large national secular organizations, including the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, American Atheists, and others. I am going to put it out there for three reasons: (1) I think it would be very easy to fix, (2) it has resulted in me deciding to let my memberships in these organizations expire without renewal, and (3) I believe that fixing it would be beneficial to the organizations as well as to me.

So what's the complaint? I'd like to be able to join organizations like this to support their work without receiving any mail from them whatsoever. I do not want their printed newsletters, frequent calls to action, or renewal notices delivered to my mailbox. In fact, I don't want them to send me anything in the mail with the name of their organization printed on it.

I live in rural Mississippi, and the postal employee who delivers mail in my neighborhood appears to have a serious impairment of some sort that results in me frequently receiving my neighbors' mail and my neighbors frequently receiving my mail. I'd prefer that my neighbors not know that I am an atheist unless I choose to tell them. When they regularly receive mail from secular organizations addressed to me, this falls apart quickly.

I am not asking for reduced membership rates from any of these organizations. I am perfectly content to pay the full membership fees even though I'll be receiving less of what they consider to be the advantages of membership. All I'd like is a check box on the online membership forms that I can use to opt out of receiving all postal mail. I am happy to receive their emails and to access the "members only" sections of their websites when necessary; I just don't want anything showing up in my mailbox that outs me to the neighborhood.

Shouldn't I just file complaints about the postal employee who continues to deliver my mail incorrectly instead of asking these organizations to change the way they operate? Yes. I have complained to my local post office branch repeatedly. If anything, the problem seems to get worse after I complain. I'd estimate that I receive the wrong mail at least 3 times per month, and this has been going on for roughly three years despite more complaints than I can count. I'm not sure what else I can do to solve the problem.

It seems to me that allowing members to opt out of postal mail would be benefit these secular organizations as well. Letting members opt out of receiving postal mail would save them money. If they didn't have to send me this stuff in the mail that I don't want, they could use more of my membership fees for legal action. It seems like it would be a win for everybody.

Why don't I just contact each of these organizations directly and ask them to stop sending me mail? I did that, and none of them responded to my requests. One of them did finally remove me from their mailing list but only after I decided not to renew my membership. That took a couple of months during which I continued to receive mail. Perhaps I gave up prematurely or did not contact the right people. But again, I really wish there was a way to make this easier, such as the opt out checkbox I mentioned above.

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