Letter: Catalogers Work to Create Bond of Trust With Customers

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I agree wholeheartedly with Wendy Lazar about telemarketers ("Best Practices," Feb. 25). They operate differently than we in the direct mail industry do. Our customers and prospects have the easy option of throwing away unwanted mail. The telemarketer calls at home and is intrusive. I bet most people would be happy to never get another telemarketing call, yet polls show that consumers want their catalogs!

As the owner of babyshoe.com, a small baby-gift cataloger, I, too, have sworn off mailing lists, though for different reasons than Lazar. I happen to know Lazar and understand the unique position she is in, having to vigorously protect the privacy of her customers, members of the police and firefighting community. Mailing lists have not worked at babyshoe.com, and we are testing other methods to increase our customer list.

We should be encouraging legitimate direct marketers in our industry, and exposing, as Lazar has, the rotten limbs of the direct marketing tree. I would add the e-mail spammers to that list, as I have done in a recent published letter to your publication. After my letter was published, I heard from a handful of readers who advised me to never reply to the opt-out option on a spam e-mail. They correctly predicted that I would receive countless more e-mail because the spammers now know the address is good.

We in the catalog industry have worked hard to create a bond of trust with our customers. We work hard to improve everything we can: product quality, shipping time, satisfaction guarantees, etc. We can only wonder about telemarketers whose meager accomplishments seem to include predictive dialers and untrained script readers. I want to distance my industry from telemarketers. Don't you?

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