September 20, 2005

Tell Your Marketing Partners To Leave Us Alone

A woman whose baby died suddenly, 31 weeks into her pregnancy, writes of having to deal with the steady stream of baby marketing material triggered by her registering at a parenting/pregnancy website:

I dread opening my mailbox to see what the next installment will be in this eerie narrative of my daughter's parallel life as a consumer. It is hard enough to be without her. I am trying to heal and move forward with my life. The advertisements make that process much harder.

It took four phone calls to the baby formula company to get them to take my name off their list. The first three, made by me, did not work. After the third call, I hung up in tears and called my husband.

"I'll handle this," Ira said.

She decided to take careful note of the companies that send material, some even after repeated requests to be removed from mailing lists, and to boycott them. Forever.

A Lost Baby, and the Pain of Endless Reminders in the Mail [nyt]


Good for her. I read this tonight and felt horrible for her; at the same time, with a sinking heart, I decided that the companies in question don't care that they've forever alienated a potential customer. Most likely, the new customers they pick up this way is much larger than any potential boycotters, so for them it makes business sense.

One place that also might have sold her info is a maternity wear store. When I bought maternity gear, the stores always asked my due date if I wasn't already in their computers.

Motherhood Maternity is the sell out devil! They are the only people (other than my OB) that had my due date and I got innundated with junk mail and samples. So, boycott Motherhood for selling their customer information (no matter how desperate you are for a tank top when you're on vacation - do NOT shop there)!

when i miscarried at the end of my first trimester i hadn't outed myself ANYWHERE. i'd registered for babycenter but left only an email address. i hadn't been to a maternity store or signed up with my name or street address anywhere online.

so the ONLY explanation i have for the flood of formula, diaper samples, coupons for chain-store baby photo studios, etc. was my insurance company. which is really sick and wrong.

While I agree it sucks that it's so insanely difficult to get off these lists, it _is_ kind of nice to get a steady stream of free stuff after having a kid. We've gotten posters, calenders, baby books, formula, diapers, diaper creme, nursing pads, etc, etc.

Marjorie, I am not going to defend any insurance company, but it would be a gross and blatant violation of Federal Law if they provided any marketing companies with you data. Even by only providing an email address, huge marketing firms buy the data from a place like and then cross reference that email address against other companies that you have done business with and have provided the same email address and a physical address. Bingo, in a few hours you could be on a list, which then multiplies rather quickly. To put this in perspective, Wal-Mart's servers in Bentonville, AR have more data stored on them than what is available on the ENTIRE Internet worldwide, about twice as much data. (and purchasing patterns dating back to the 50's). I hate to say it but its almost impossible NOT to be marketed to.

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