Thursday, April 26, 2018
News Roundup

Q&A: Websites can help stop unwanted catalogs

Ordering an end to catalogs

I am an elderly woman with a walking problem, so my question is: Is there any way I can stop receiving all those store catalogs that I have no interest in? I can hardly carry them.

Catalog overload is a problem we hear a lot about, since about 20 billion are sent out every year, and have firsthand experience in. The recipient's first question is usually, "Why am I getting this catalog?" followed closely by "How can I make it stop?"

There are a couple of ways to go about thinning your catalog mail:

• Go to the website of the company that sends you the catalog. If you can't find a website listed in the catalog, do an Internet search for the company.

Once you find it, go to the bottom of the company's home page and look under the "contact us" or "FAQ" sections. Usually you can find forms to fill out online to ask the company to stop sending you catalogs.

• Call the companies directly. Somewhere within the catalog — usually on the back cover — you should find a customer service phone number. It would probably be useful to have your customer account number when you call.

• There are businesses that offer to help stop catalog mailings. Some of these will charge you and some are free, though some of the free ones will want information from you.

One you might want to consider is Catalog Choice, which is free and was started a half-dozen or so years ago by several environmental groups. You can find it online at catalogchoice.org.

Hit the "sign up now" button on the home page of the website. Go through the signup process, activate your account and then you can start opting out of specific companies' catalogs.

The company says it often takes 10 weeks or more for the process to start working. If you continue to get catalogs after several months, you can contact Catalog Choice to report it, and it will follow up with the company.

Good luck. Be thorough, and be patient.

Volume counts for inflation

A 25-ounce box of cereal costs $4. The manufacturer shrinks the size to 22 ounces but charges the same $4 cost. Does inflation data in the Consumer Price Index reflect the increase as 12 percent?

This is factored into the CPI as about a 12 percent increase, according to Steve Reed, an economist with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "The question comes up a lot, which is understandable, as small size decreases seem to be fairly common these days," he wrote.

BLS researchers who gather price data check every specification of the items being priced, including size. "If anything changes, it is noted and a decision must be made about what to do about it," Reed said. "For small changes in size, the usual solution is to calculate the price change per unit."

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