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How to stop junk mail

Robin Bowman

Robin Bowman
Jun 12, 2017

Millions of us face the prospect of being deluged with junk mail under the Royal Mail’s latest money-making scheme.

They want to send us so-called ‘targeted’ mail based on what we show an interest in buying online.

The company is trailing a scheme that would mean we’d get promotional mail in our letterbox if we buy a product online or even if we put it in our basket, but later remove it.

According to insiders, if the trial goes well, we could all be part of the new plan within weeks.

And, as around 75% of us shop online, most homes in the country will be targeted.

But how will the online companies know what we are up to online?


They’ll monitor the cookies we accept when we go to their site and match these with info they store in our accounts. This will then be matched with our addresses. They will then pay the Royal Mail to deliver their marketing material.

This, of course, raises the question of privacy. 

What happens if you look at a product you’re not so keen on anyone in your house knowing about?

That might make a few people think twice about what they click.

So, what can we do to ensure we don’t receive an endless stream of junk mail to go with the junk mail we already receive in an endless stream?

The bad news is that, while you can limit what you receive in the way of junk, stopping it completely is out of the question.

The Mailing Preference Service, or MPS, lets you register to say you do NOT want to receive junk mail.  You can go to their site here to register.

The Royal Mail venture will take note of your registration, but the MPS will not stop all junk.

Much of what you get through the door isn’t addressed to you but some generic title, like ‘the householder’, and it won’t stop that. And it won’t stop mail from companies you have previously made purchases from.

Obviously, it won’t prevent hand delivered junk either.

Some companies will choose to ignore the MPS anyway – it only acts as an indicator of your preferences.

Let’s hope the Royal Mail scheme will offer some kind of opt out when it starts.

If not, they are likely to receive a whole lot of ‘junk’ mail themselves – calling for change!


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