Canada Post Revamps Change of Address Form

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Canada Post Corp. begins distributing a new Change of Address Notification form next week that the Canadian mailing industry hopes will balance privacy issues and business needs.

About 1.7 million individuals, families and businesses move in Canada each year, and 1.2 million of them file a COAN form when they move. The new form contains a checkbox letting movers opt out if they do not want their addresses included in the change-of-address program. Under the old format, both an opt-in box and an opt-out box appeared. Canada's privacy commissioner approved the change in April.

Wording beside the new opt-out box reads: "I do not want Canada Post to provide my address to organizations with whom I already have a relationship. I understand that mail sent to my old address will be returned to sender or destroyed after the service expires."

If the box is not checked, Canada Post will consider the mover to be opting in to the program, and the electronically captured information will be made available to licensees of Canada Post's National Change of Address Data.

Canada's National Association of Major Mail Users began working with Canada Post to change the form in late 2002, after adding the two checkboxes based on a ruling from the privacy commissioner at the time. After the two boxes were added, opt-out rates "skyrocketed over 70 percent," said NAMMU president Kathleen Rowe, who estimated that 20 percent to 30 percent of current COAN forms had neither box checked and, therefore, were counted as opt outs.

Wording beside the old opt-in box read: "I agree that Canada Post may provide this new address to businesses and other organizations, including direct mailers, who request it, providing they already have my correct name and old address. I understand that this will help ensure I continue to receive mail from infrequent commercial mailers after the change of address service expires, mail that might otherwise be returned to sender or disposed of by Canada Post."

Wording beside the old opt-out box read: "I do not want Canada Post to provide this new address to businesses and other organizations, including direct mailers."

Canada Post spokesman John Caines said the old form "led to the disappearance of 750,000 names per year in marketing lists, which had a huge impact for advertisers."

Rowe said the new COAN form will have an enormous payoff for Canada Post consumers and mailers.

"It is a win-win-win," she said. "A win for Canada Post in operational savings, a win for the consumer because the wording is clear and a win for businesses who need to keep in touch with their existing clients."

The new forms are available in post offices, postal outlets and on Canada Post's Web site,

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