Junk mail takes on new meaning

Email clogs my inbox these days and some mornings there seems to be no end to the junk mail. But there is a bright side.

It used to take a long time every morning and I could fill a trash can with junk mail. Except for catalogs, the junk mail volume is down and so are Postal Service revenues.

I used to get what I affectionately called “tricky junk mail.” Stuff that came disguised as checks, stuff that said you had won a new boat. Even the endless supply of credit card come-ons telling me I was pre-approved have almost stopped.

As I’ve detailed in a previous column, a lot of those nefarious offers have simply moved online and into the email inbox where a quick response can land you in hot water.

I’ve hit a rare streak lately of “tricky junk mail” that could be turning back the clock. I’ve even been sucked into the trap once.

One of the latest ones made me smile before I ever got the envelope open. When you live in New Mexico and you get mail with a return address of “Sante Fe, NM” the antennae immediately goes up. No one in our state capitol would keep stationery with that big a blooper.

Sure enough it was a very official-looking form that said I needed to fill out my required annual corporate paperwork for the state. If you signed it and sent it back you would have agreed to let them file paperwork you didn’t need for a price that was too high. I even had someone else call me up to ask about the same form they had received.

The other one that I recently found out I had been fooled by came when I got a bill for a yellow pages listing I didn’t think I had ordered. Come to find out I had been duped by “tricky junk mail” that made me think I was confirming that my free listing was correct.

Even after they sent me the form I had signed I still refused to pay for the listing and told them they were intentionally being dishonest with their mailings.

This week took the cake for junk mail, however. Turns out it was actually junk in the mail.

A package wrapped carefully in brown wrapping paper arrived and after not recognizing the return address, which was from a neighboring town, I gave it a curious shake and began to unwrap.

The first thing I pulled from the box was part of a plastic toy out of a vending machine. Digging a little deeper I found a variety of litter that someone had carefully packaged and spent nearly $3 to mail to me.

I’m sure the sender had a point to make by sending their trash to the Chamber but because there was no note and the number I located hasn’t produced a call-back as of yet, I don’t know what that point might be.

I’m going to have to be a little more careful opening my mail I guess. I get so little of it these days I become a little exuberant with a letter opener clinched in my hands. Strange packages should maybe be opened with exam gloves on and “tricky junk mail” reply questionnaires will either be discarded immediately or set aside for careful examination by legal counsel.

Karl Terry writes for Clovis Media Inc. Contact him at: karlterry@yucca.net

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