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23-Feb-12 11:18:31 PM UTC
Robert Allan Winte...

United States, Ohio

OK, so it's not an ax murder. But this morning I received, in the proverbial "plain brown wrapper," something with the USPS logo and the words "Member Announcement" showing. Upon opening it, I discovered that this "Member Announcement" was in fact a solicitation to purchase auto insurance.

I find this an illegitimate use of the USPS logo (and, presumably, membership list). If MetLife wants to take out an advertisement in The Ensign, offering its supposedly discounted policies, that's fine. But to present the offer as a "Member Announcement" is sailing under false colors. Granted, the distinction between a "Member Announcement" and an "announcement to members" is a subtle one, but the first implies (and is clearly intended to imply) that the contents have something to do with some official USPS information sent to "Members."

This is perhaps a small thing, but I think it cheapens the USPS "brand" and puts an organization with supposedly high standards in the same category with any other sleazy huckster. And I strenuously object to an organization to which I belong selling, renting, or otherwise sharing my membership information with some other, non-related entity. If, as the flyer states, USPS "has selected MetLife … to provide our members with superior quality and savings," I, as a member, would like to know just who made this selection, and under what authority. Also, does that mean they will pay the premiums?

What's next? Am I to receive solicitations for an "official USPS" casino, politician, or kumquat vendor? This has nothing to do with promoting boating safety and education, fellowship or any of the other objects of USPS and I hope someone will help put a stop to the practice.

30-Apr-13 07:56:13 PM UTC
Jeffrey Howard Gel...

United States, Illinois

I am Commander of the Waukegan Sail and Power Squadron and we lost long standing members over this very issue. Of greater consequence is that the members we lost were all very active and competent course instructors and their contributions are greatly missed.

We sent letters to national headquarters regarding the issue and all we received back were instructions on how to opt out of the marketing database. The members who voiced concern did opt out, subsequently quit their membership due to the dismissive attitude from national and to this day receive marketing solicitations from third party firms even though they are no longer even members of USPS.

In this day and age - sharing member information is a bad idea no matter what. The pittance of remuneration I am to understand that national receives for sharing the member database with outside firms is nowhere near enough to cover the loss of credibility and talent this issue has created for our Squadron.

01-May-13 02:00:55 AM UTC
Robert W. Kunath

United States, Illinois

I am currently a member (SN) of the Venice FL Squadron, formerly a member of Waukegan, IL. Two years ago our squadron investigated complaints by our members reporting mailings similar to that of Robert Winter's. We found that HQ had contracted with a direct mail solicitor, AMG, permitting AMG to solicit by direct mail members using addresses provided by USPS, for the purpose of selling product unrelated to boating under the guise of "announcements to members" as described by Mr. Winter. In return AMG pays a commission on sales to USPS HQ. The release of member addresses to AMG was without approval of or even the knowledge by the membership. An "opt-out" feature was added later.

Members of our squadron found that practice to be an improper use of confidential member information, and in fact a violation of USPS policy:

"3. Members and employees of USPS will not seek financial gain from information learned from USPS membership, nor will others be allowed to do so."

Nowhere in the Policy is HQ authorized to release personal member information to anyone outside USPS for the purpose of selling product in exchange for commissions.

Our protests were taken to District and National meetings in an attempt to change the practice without success. Several of our long-service member left membership as a result.

I may be next. How can you respect a national organization that does not respect its members?

16-May-13 01:46:07 PM UTC
Boyd E. West

United States, CA

If National wants to lose membership, by all means sell my information. If I start getting junk mail disguised as official USPS, my family and I will be inspired to leave. If you want us to leave sooner, just put pop-ups in our mail or our Sail Angle messages.

We shouldn't be required to "opt-out" of anything. If National, or anyone else for that matter wants to sell our information they should ask us to sign up for it, we should not be required to opt-out after the fact. It is an abuse of our trust.

It seems these days every business with whom I have a relationship gets around the "do not call" list by simply making the default option in the fine print of their "Privacy Policy" to be simply "put me on the list". By doing business with them I have therefore given permission to sell my name or give it to another organization which will sell it.

USPS shouldn't sink so low as to sell out their members. The cost to the membership will not be worth the revenue generated, not to mention the ill-will it will create. If I want to buy a product or service I will seek out suppliers. It shouldn't be the other way around. It is for this reason that it has been illegal to solicit door to door in many cities for decades.

Getting directly into my computer via the mailbox, deceptively diguised as information from a trusted source, is even worse. It is like having a solicitor knocking at the door and saying "your friend Bob at the USPS has an important message for you" just to get his foot in the door.

USPS shouldn't have to walk away with a limp because too many doors will be slammed.