Kleeneeze, Betterware and the Secrets of Hard Copy Spam

Pile of junkI have to admit, I am not the tidiest of people.  I think I probably have a subconscious problem with regards retention insofar as I hoard things.

This retention extends to junk mail as much as it does anything else.  Rather than throwing it away I set it to one side with the excuse:

I’ll shred that later, do my bit for the environment.

Of course, “later” never comes and only when I’m left with an unmanageable pile of hard copy Spam do I throw it in the recycling bin, often neglecting to shred it.

So you might see why I get annoyed at the amount of junk mail that is forced upon us.

My DeskThere is a solution to most junk mail, in the form of the Mailing Preference System (MPS).

I used to work in Direct Marketing and throughout the 6 years I spent in the industry I learnt a lot about how to get yourself off the marketing lists.

I also learnt that more and more companies at the time were starting to break government legislation and ignore the preference lists.  I think this was down to the toothlessness of the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and the Direct Marketing Authority (DMA); and the increased use of offshore marketing offices.

It has been a while since those days though, the industry has likely changed again.  Back in those days there were only around 8 million people in the UK that were on direct marketeers’ databases; the number was dwindling even then.

Still, the MPS solution still exists, as ineffective as I might believe it to be.  It stands as a beacon for those of us who don’t want junk mail through our doors.

But there is a far more insidious threat to my letterbox… the home shopping catalogue and the selfish pimps who supply them.

From the outside, home shopping companies like Kleeneeze and Betterware are as innocuous as mail order companies or the likes of the Kays Catalogue.  What makes them so detestable is the way that they operate.

These home shopping companies operate through the use of door to door sales people, like some kind of underworld fixer. These tools of oppression wander their neighbourhoods depositing their catalogues, whilst their neighbours are gainfully employed elsewhere.

KleenezeOn returning home from a hard days work, the recipient of said catalogue files it along with the other junk mail they have received that day. They often ignore the note attached. It usually reads something along the lines of:

Here’s your latest Sneeze Easy catalogue!

I’ll be back to collect it:


Please leave it on your doorstep for collection.

Thursday comes and goes without the recipient batting an eyelid, they’ve already picked up and filed the note that reads:

I came to collect my Sneeze Easy catalogue today and to take your order.
I’ll be back on …

BetterwareSooner or later the catalogue distributor realises that daytime calling isn’t working, this is where the problem reaches its climax.

Picture the scene:

You’ve had a hard day at work, you’re just settling down to your evening meal and the doorbell goes. You set your meal down and answer the door, only to be greeted by a stern faced neighbour.

Hello. I’m from number 73 down the road. We’ve never met but I left a Sneeze Easy catalogue with you a few days ago.

You deny ever seeing the catalogue but way back in the dark, dank recesses of memory you seem to remember the name “Sneeze Easy” from the day you did all that shredding.

Well, if you’re not going to order anything I need the catalogue back?

Again you offer only denial. Maybe you don’t? Maybe you confess to the possibility of having seen the catalogue a week ago, maybe you even confess to shredding it; the outcome of the conversation is no different, regardless of the path you take.

That catalogue cost me £1.50! You owe me money for that!

Green BinIf you’re anything like me, by this point you’re ready to maim. The sheer audacity of them. Every single one of them that I have ever dealt with has ended up accusing me of theft and having the door shut on them.

I didn’t ask them to post the damn catalogue through my door. I didn’t invite them to stick their valuable pamphlet through the letterbox on a promise of returning it to them unscathed.

What is worse is the way that these people have been indoctrinated into believing that they’re future is bright and rosy with their chosen catalogue company. It isn’t their fault that they come across the way they do.

These people have been roped into a world where it is acceptable to expect someone to spend £50 on catalogues that are going to be shredded by their friends and neighbours. It is just the same con as Ann Summers or the Body Shop. I’m not saying that it isn’t possible to make a successful business from this kind of thing; I am saying that, the majority of people I have come across, that are distributing these catalogues seem to have been misled somewhere along the way.

Nowadays I just leave the catalogues outside my front door. If they’re not collected in a week they’re put in the green bin.

That at least gives the poor dupes a week or so to get their pamphlet back.


2 thoughts on “Kleeneeze, Betterware and the Secrets of Hard Copy Spam

  1. Those catalogues legally belong to you the moment they come through your door, and the neighbour who posted them through is committing a criminal offence by demanding you pay for them.

    From Section 24 of the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000:

    “The recipient may […] use, deal with or dispose of the goods as if they were an unconditional gift to him.”

    “The rights of the sender to the goods are extinguished.”

    “A person who, not having reasonable cause to believe there is a right to payment, in the course of any business makes a demand for payment […] is guilty of an offence and liable, on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding level 4 on the standard scale.”

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