The Post

For the last four months or so we’ve been living in rented accommodation. One of the things I’ve rapidly learnt about rented places is that they’re magnets for unwanted letters.

Here’s why: before us, there were three (groups of) people living here at different times over the last few years. For various reasons we have no forwarding addresses or contact details for them, and for various other reasons most of them don’t seem to have ever updated their contact details with various companies.

The long and the short is, we get all their mail. Normally we’ll get a handful of letters every week. Some are clearly junk; some are white envelopes which look pretty personal and the rest are from companies like BT and organisations like SAGA.

Since we’re not the recipients we can’t play the Data Protection Act game and ask to have “our” details removed. Besides – I don’t fancy writing or calling to every single one of these companies asking them to stop. The same is true for simply writing and explaining.

The postie won’t stop delivering them because he’s obliged to post any addressed letters by law, and it’s probably not worth his time filtering them anyway.

So, after a bit of a look-up on the Internet I noticed a few people recommending writing “Return to Sender. Recipient no longer lives here” on the front. Dutifully I ran off a load of labels (already on my third sheet…) and started posting them back.

The other day I went to the Post Office for something unrelated, and asked if I could put “this handful of letters” in the post. The Post Office lady took them, saw the sticker and commented that “this probably won’t work. Royal Mail just usually put them straight in the incinerator”. Bleeding marvellous.

So the letters continue – another two today and undoubtedly more to come.