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How firms are getting around anti-junk mail signs on French mailboxes

The government says 800,000-900,000 tonnes of unsolicited printed advertisements are distributed each year in France

You may find your letterbox filled with junk mail despite your ‘Stop Pub’ sticker. Companies that ignore the sticker are committing an offence Pic: Jeramey Lende / Shutterstock

Do you or your neighbours in France have “Stop Pub” stickers on your letterboxes? 

They are intended to stop you from receiving junk mail.

But now companies are finding ways to get around the signs, according to the consumer group 60 Millions de Consommateurs.

It highlighted some residents have received catalogues and other unwanted publicity in envelopes that are addressed to them, as companies try to conceal their adverts.

Normally, advertising and publicity material is posted into letterboxes without an envelope or personalised address, making it obvious that it is marketing.

One recipient, named Nathalie, told the association: “Some don’t hesitate to put their advertising in an envelope, and write the name that’s on our letter box on it, and throw it in. I have just found advertising from an estate agency, with my name written on the envelope.”

The government’s Stop Pub campaign has found that 800,000-900,000 tonnes of unsolicited printed advertisements are distributed each year in France - the equivalent of 40kg of leaflets per mailbox and 12 million trees.

Illegal practice

Putting publicity material into a letterbox that has a “Stop Pub” sticker is illegal, as stated in article L.541-15-15 of the environmental code.

Doing so can be punished by a fine of €7,000, rising to €15,000 in case of a repeated offence.

How can I complain?

If you receive marketing and publicity material in your letterbox despite having the ‘Stop Pub’ sticker, 60 Millions de Consommateurs recommends that you report it.

If the sender is a large business: Alert the Syndicat de la distribution directe (SDD). On its website, you can scroll down the bottom of the homepage and click the button to report “non-respect” of my Stop Pub sticker (‘Signaler le non-respect de mon autocollant stop pub’).

You can report it online (‘en ligne’) or by post (‘par courrier’).

For small businesses and independent operators who are not part of this union: Inform them directly that you will make a complaint to the union anyway in case of a repeated offence.

Reporting the practice is the best way to combat the issue, and let the business know that you are aware that their ‘strategy’ of personally addressing publicity material to you directly is not legal. 

Read also

France cracks down on junk mail

Get annoying junk mail in your French letterbox? Here’s how to stop it

New ‘opt in’ stickers trialled in France to reduce junk mail waste

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