I think that many of you will be concerned to learn that Working Assets, which sponsors many environmentally and socially conscious programs, shares its customers' names and addresses with dozens of other groups (many of them are non-profits.) I found this out when I started receiving A LOT of unsolicited mail, and when I called to be removed from the various mailing lists, I was told that they got my info from Working Assets. I contacted WA to object to this use of my information. Just as important, it seems so counter to their environmental emphasis to be generating such volumes of (largely unwanted) mail - mostly solicitations. I think it would do a LOT of good for Working Assets to hear from people who object to this practice - you can reach Working Assets, call 1 (800) 362-7127, or access their website at www.wald.com.
Here is the email I sent them in mid-December 2000, but I have not received a reply:
My name and address was distributed by Working Assets to many other non-profit organizations, and I have received a LOT of unwanted mail as a result. Even though the groups are all admirable, I still find it frustrating to have my information sold to them for solicitation purposes. I joined Working Assets in large part because I'm a committed environmentalist, and I work with several environmental groups that have been supported by your company. I always request that my name and address not be provided to other groups. I find it very upsetting that Working Assets, which I think is doing great things, is contributing to the environmental problem caused by unsolicited mail: about 4 billion pounds of paper are used every year to make direct-mail catalogs and other types of junk mail, and more than one hundred million trees are felled every year for this purpose.
I urge you to take the following steps:
1) ask customers IN ADVANCE for permission to distribute their name and address to other groups - Working Assets should take an "opt-in" approach before sharing customer information
For existing customers, I'd urge you to stop distributing contact information. WA can notify customers of this new envrionmental measure and let people check a box on the monthly bills if they'd like to "opt-in"
2) Encourage the groups you share customer information with to use email when contacting prospective members, and offer your customers a choice to select email rather than direct mail.
Finally, I contacted Working Assets via email several weeks ago when I got an email urging me to send information about joining Working Assets to my friends. I have recommended Working Assets to several people (and I usually urge them to ask that the $10 referral fee be given to a non-profit instead of being credited to my bill). My question was never answered - I'm happy to enter in my friends' email addresses if and ONLY IF they will not be put on any contact lists - I'm happy to refer them to you but do not want them to receive unsolicited email or paper mail as a result. If you could reply, I'd appreciate it!
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3800 Macomb St., NW
Washington, D.C. 20016
Tel. (202) 362-0789
Fax (202) 362-0784