Below the belt: On the record

Monday morning and our office has been hijacked by a box of returned mail. A quick sift reveals pack after pack where the address data is out of date.

This batch of dirty data came from a couple of list industry household names. The reluctance of list owners to undertake simple housekeeping has seriously jeopardised the mailer's brand reputation, whilst he paid for the privilege of doing so in production fees.

Business and consumer lists are equal offenders. Recently a leading hotel chain mailed a costly pack only to see a significant proportion wing its way back marked "Company moved eight years ago", "left company three years ago" etc.

List owners must be able to look after their assets better than this.

Best practice is promoted by the DMA and more recently by the IPA, yet to date the guidelines from both fail to pinpoint this issue or publish tangible levels of acceptability.

Clients have the ability to force change. We provide them with sufficient information by way of reports to demand a rebate for any data bought. But this only saves the cost of the data - not of printing too much for a campaign that falls short of target quantity because we've had to filter out the junk. I can't recall a campaign where the broker has encouraged our clients to return returns.

Come on, let's practise good practice before someone forces us to.

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