Globe Direct: Yeah, our drivers shouldn't just be flinging the things out their car windows

Officials from the Boston Globe and the company it hired to distribute its advertising circulars told angry city councilors at a hearing today they're willing to try to keep Boston from being papered over with the circulars.

Councilors, who raised the specter of a possible fine system for errant deliveries, said they're looking, at a minimum for something like what Cambridge has - where Globe Direct has agreed to have drivers pick up circulars just lying on the ground and immediately comply with requests from homeowners to stop the damn things from coming.

City councilors Tim McCarthy, Sal LaMattina and Matt O'Malley and two residents who testified said Globe Direct could start by getting their phone system working, so that people who do manage to find the number in small print somewhere on one of their annoying bags can really count on Globe Direct to cancel their delivery when asked to the first time.

Scott Kelly of Roslindale said he has been trying for nine months to stop Globe Direct without success - and even with the repeated help of a supervisor at the delivery company. He said this past winter, snow plows would grind up all the circulars left on the road, and they all appeared as a gloppy mess of shredded paper and plastic when the snows melted in the spring.

"It makes my neighborhood look like a dump," he said. "I don't like having people over, it's embarrassing."

Dan O'Connor of Hyde Park said the second time he called to try to get the plastic-sheathed ads stopped, the man who answered said that was not possible because O'Connor was "on the mailing list" and that meant delivery would never stop.

McCarthy said he almost admires the Globe Direct guy who does deliveries on his block. "The guy literally throws them out a sunroof," he said. "It doesn't seem like he's looking at a (do not deliver) list. He's flicking papers, driving around the middle of the road, left and right, it's amazing to watch."

Jim Burbine, vice president of distribution services at Publishers Circulation Fulfillment, the company that actually delivers the circulars, allowed as how that was wrong. He said the company's drivers - independent contractors - are told to adhere to do-not-deliver lists and to try to get the things on people's steps, porches and walkways, not to just throw them willy-nilly as they speed down a street.

He said the company uses GPS and auditors to track drivers and does fire those found in violation. "We've replaced a lot of contractors," he said.

Whatever the company's doing, it's not enough, LaMattina said. LaMattina said he already has enough problems just trying to keep the streets of Charlestown and East Boston clean and the last thing he needs is more litter from Globe Direct. He said that at the Bunker Hill project, he's seen stacks of the things "just thrown all over the development."

"This is really out of control right now," he said. "[The Globe] takes us to task when we do something wrong, but they're doing something wrong now."

O'Malley said he and his neighbors in a small JP condo building are tired of finding 20 or 30 of the things on their front steps every week. O'Malley acknowledged residents have to put up with unsolicited circulars from Chinese restaurants and political candidates, but added, "there is nothing that even comes close to the frequency and sheer permeation of concentration" of Globe Direct.

Burbine added that in an effort to be helpful, Globe Direct is switching to clear bags and, when possible, just rubber bands. Jamie Nee, executive director of sales strategy and fulfillment at the Globe, said he'd be willing to put a full-page insert at the top of the circular at least once that would tell people how to stop delivery.

Councilors said that in addition to litter, the circulars are a public-safety hazard because circulars that just pile up are a clear sign to burglars a house is empty. LaMattina added that this past winter, one of his senior constituents stepped onto a Globe Direct bag and promptly slipped.

Although they said they would work with the city, Nee and Burbine rejected a request from councilors to switch from the current opt-out system - in which the roughly 80% of Boston households that do not subscribe to the Globe get Globe Direct - to an opt-in system, under which only people who specifically request the circulars would get them.

Burbine said many people look forward to the circulars, especially the supermarket ads. "It's a product that is overwhelmingly wanted in the home," he said.

In response to a question from O'Malley, Nee said he considers Globe Direct a direct-mail marketing effort, not a newspaper. O'Malley had earlier asked about the First Amendment concerns about trying to get Globe Direct to reduce its litter.

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Comments

Opt Out

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I took some advice here and emailed them and asked to opt out. It took two weeks to get a response but I haven't received a pile of trash on my doorstep in about 6 weeks! Best decision I ever made.

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address?

Could you give us the email address at Globe Direct that you used, to successfully stop those deliveries?

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It makes me beyond angry to

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It makes me beyond angry to get this crap on my doorstep (more likely just scattered about in front of the steps). I'll like avoid picking it up for days on principle, but then of course I get past that and pick the stupid things up to throw away. Same with phone books. Who the HELL uses a phone book anymore?! I haven't used one in well over a decade, yet I get a new one thrown against my place a few times a year! And to make matters worse none of my neighbors pick any of this stuff up so even when I resign myself to grab my copy of (insert unwanted random piece of shit publication here) they are still everywhere! I especially love when others kick theirs over toward my door so I still look like the asshole even though I took care of mine. Apologies for this useless rant, but this is a major pet peeve of mine. Just had to clean up some of said garbage this evening matter 'o fact...

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No biggie

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I just grab mine and toss it in the trash. Life's good.... Zzzzz

McCarthy needs to pay more

McCarthy needs to pay more attention. I'm pretty sure he and I have the same Globe Direct guy, and he's pretty good. He gets out of the car at almost every house and jogs up to the stoop. Only if the house is close to the street and unobstructed does he toss the bag from the curb. There is another person who fills in when the regular driver is gone who flings the bags all willy-nilly. Perhaps that is what Tim was referring to.

I hate Globe Direct as much as anyone, but I think Tim McCarthy was needlessly insulting a hard working guy with that comment.

nice try

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nice try, globe direct delivery guy

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I'm liking your comment

I'm liking your comment because I'm sure it seems like that.

But the regular delivery person in my (and McCarthy's) 'hood really seems like a decent, hardworking guy. He's got a lot of hustle, and he seems like he tries hard not to make a mess. I'm an early riser, usually out running or walking the dog by about 5:30am, and this guy is already at work, jogging to each house, with a smile on his face. The biggest reason why I don't try to unsubscribe to the stupid thing is because I'm pretty sure the delivery guy is paid by the piece, and I don't want to feel like I'm taking money out of his pocket.

While this is not the biggest

By on

While this is not the biggest issue in the city, it seems like a totally unnecessary and resolvable source of littering. I am glad to see some of our Councillors tackle it, and thank Adam for reporting on it .

I have closely examined the content of these bags on a few occasions. The most prevalent fliers are for Target and some ubiquitous pharmacy chains, and the most prominently advertised items on these fliers is always some soft drink (Coke 3 packs/$10!). In my neighborhood were one third of the adults are diabetic or pre-diabetic; Talk about a public service.

Message to John Henry: John, trying to make your next $billion by trashing the city with sugary drinks advertising to kids? Not cool!

Last winter, it did cross my mind to collect a bunch of those disemboweled green bags from my street, and toss them over the tall gate of the John Henry fiefdom in Brookline. Just as a return to sender courtesy. I am a procrastinator. By the time I was ready to execute this plan after the snow melted, it seemed like those trashy deliveries had pretty much stopped in my immediate area. For unknown reasons, I have hardly seen any of them lately. But I will definitely do it if this crap returns to my neighborhood. I have no copyright on this idea, so anyone else can fell free to put it to use!

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Did this hearing really accomplish anything?

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I've called for months to cancel delivery. They stopped for maybe two, three weeks tops, but they now give me TWO sets of circulars per week, all rolled together, even though I live in a single family residence. Guess my delivery guy has some really warped sense of humor. HAHA, hilarious.
I've cited security reasons, from my first phone call. I've told them I have a restraining order against an ex who has entered my home when I've been out of town. But they don't care, they persist.
I even received two today, bundled together in one clear plastic bag in my bushes when I got home from work. Obviously, my guy didn't get the memo about the hearing yesterday either.
I would love to know the email that I can send a request to, maybe that would get to a more responsive individual.
Or maybe I just need an address, so I can go dump all these papers on someone's desk... Or maybe I could just wait till the guy drives by and chucks them out his window and chuck them back? I don't know anymore. I'm so done though.
There are so much more serious things that I'm dealing with, you would think this would be a quick fix, but it's really been a nuisance!
Unfortunately, it's not just as simple as *ho hum, just throw them in the trash* for some of us. I wish! If we call and say we want it stopped, it should be as easy as that. STOP.