Intermission: Protest Big Banks with Their Own Junk Mail
by Artie Moffa, November 1, 2011
uploaded to YouTube by ransackedroom on Oct 27, 2011
Keep Wall Street Occupied
We all receive junk mail; it’s a universal constant, like gravity. And many of the envelopes clogging your mailbox are things like credit card offers and checking account deals from large financial institutions—the same ones whose irresponsibility and greed catalyzed the economic crisis we’re currently enjoying. Those banks’ actions have sparked the “Occupy” protests around the world and a wave of people moving their money to credit unions, but there’s another way to voice discontent. Enclosed with each credit card application is a prepaid weapon for a small protest: a business reply mail envelope.
The banks pay for these in advance, but only if they’re sent back. Depending on how heavy and rigid you make it, banks have to pay increasingly more postage. Moreover, someone at the banks have to open these envelopes and read what’s inside. Enough envelopes from us, and someone upstairs will have to hear about it. It’s a brilliant way to have your voice heard, hit the big banks with a satisfying monetary sting, and cathartically get rid of your junk mail.
Not everyone who supports Occupy Wall Street movement can camp out in solidarity. So there’s a simple and cheap way to get back at big banks and make your voice heard. All you need to get started is your daily pile of junk mail.
San Francisco resident Artie Moffa recently posted a video explaining how to protest just by mailing back those pre-paid envelopes that accompany the credit card offers that fill your mailbox. That costs banks some money—and, more importantly, time. “This isn’t junk mail, this is an opportunity for dialogue,” Moffa says, holding up an envelope. He lays out three ways to participate, ranging in difficulty from “no effort required” to “really easy”:
Phase 1: Take that empty pre-paid envelope, lick it, seal it, and drop it in the mailbox. Each letter costs the bank about a quarter, Moffa says, but it only pays for envelopes that are actually mailed back.
Phase 2: Send the envelope full, which will cost the bank slightly more. Stick everything they sent you and all of your other junk mail inside. Drop in a pamphlet about switching from big banks to a local one if you’ve got one. Most importantly, include a note. Moffa writes a message in each letter he sends back, like “Hello, big bank clerk. Please join a union.” That way, Moffa says, “they know this wasn’t just a miscommunication, it actually was communication.”
Phase 3: To take the protest one step further, start adding weight to your envelopes. Moffa suggests buying a wood shim (a 12-pack will set you back just a couple of bucks) and slipping it in too. This makes the envelope rigid as well as heavy, adding even more to postage costs. Or try other items, like roof shingles, pennies, soil, or cardboard.
Moffa emphasizes that the point is not to rack up postage costs for the bank, but “to force banks to react to us.” If they get enough envelopes like this, they’ll have to pay attention. “Every hour banks spend reacting to us is an hour banks don’t spend lobbying Congress on how to screw us,” Moffa says. “It’s an hour banks don’t spend foreclosing on our houses. So I think that that’s progress.”