Monday, August 23, 2010

What flier nuisance?

Aug 22, 2010

[I wasn't sure whether to put this in this blog "ST Forum" or the Newsclippings blog. I decided to treat this as a letter by the editor.]

Some Housing Board residents are almost in revolt over advertisers and businesses sticking fliers in their door grilles. Promoters have resorted to doing so as a result of anti-junk mail locking devices installed on letter-boxes in HDB estates. A recent letter to The Straits Times complaining about the messy fliers drew a dozen like grouses.

These letter writers wanted a ban placed on junk mail at their doorstep. But the Ministry of National Development, in response to questions on the issue raised in Parliament by Ms Lee Bee Wah, an MP for Ang Mo Kio GRC, said town councils and the HDB had no authority to stop the distributing of leaflets in HDB households.

Are these fliers sent out mainly by real estate agents in a rising market, like now, such a nuisance? The answer is an unequivocal 'no'. Residents do not get these bits of paper every day. If they cannot stand looking at them, toss them in the waste basket. We suspect this is where most hopeful sales pitches end up. What's so hard about throwing unwanted paper in the trash? Those who are away a lot can arrange for neighbours or relatives to remove accumulated junk. The point is to be sensible about the ways of daily commerce.

[I agree. There are more sensible ways of daily commerce. My question is, how successful are these flyers? How many thousands of these litter-to-be must be distributed to get one response? How different are these flyers from cold-call telemarketers? From touts at Newton hawker centre? The point is that for just one response, these flyers inconvenience thousands of other residents indiscriminately. This is commerce? This is marketing? This is a strategy?

What right-thinking person intending to sell his property will pick up a cheap flyer on his door with a cheesy photo and promise of stratospheric prices for his property and call the number on the flyer? The agent obviously has no creative way of drumming up business. What evidence does one have that he will have the required intelligence or ability to sell your property for the best price other than his self-testimony? For a transaction of a lifetime, wouldn't one pick an agent with a reference from trusted friend who has used his services? Flyers are for fast food delivery, where one knows (and presumably trusts) the brand and the quality.]

Residents made a litter problem of these fliers when there were no anti-locking devices on letter boxes. In going through their mail, they would leave behind a carpet of leaflets in the lift lobby area because it was too much trouble to dispose of them in bins close by. The litter was not an uplifting sight for anyone coming home from work. So, who's the culprit? The HDB introduced the anti-locking device in letter boxes in the mid-1990s in new blocks of flats and in upgraded older estates precisely because the indiscriminate tossing of paper in void decks was getting out of hand.

All of which says that excessively cared-for Singaporeans can be a spoilt lot, even among heartlanders.

[Actually, I put the flyers with my stack of newpapers for recycling. As I only buy the Sunday Times, I don't have a lot of newspapers. At times it almost seems like there are more flyers than newspapers. That's how bad it is. My perspective of this is that these people dump litter on my door almost everyday. Why? What if I take all these flyers and drop them in mail boxes? What if I take all these Singpost delivered flyers and put them back in the mailboxes? Returned mail. Not wanted. Return to Sender.]

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