Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Project CRAP: Conclusion

Click here for the explanation of Project CRAP
Final Statistics
Total Weight of CRAP: 43.00 lbs (19.5 kg)
Average Weight of CRAP: 0.83 lbs (0.38 kg) per week
Total Volume of CRAP: 1.48 ft3 (.042 m3)
Total Pieces of CRAP: 648
Average Pieces of CRAP: 12 per week
LowLight of the Year: Due to popular request, Skor has chosen a LowLight of the Year. This proved to be quite a difficult task. Choosing the lowest of the LowLights presented Skor with a formidable challenge. With such gems as the freaky no-face figurines, DOUBLE POWER Internet, fake checks, overactive overactive bladder notifications, grand prize winnings, end-clause parades, a millionaire conference, and the endless FREE, FREE, FREE, FREE, FREE, FREE offers—all in an array of blinding colors—it was quite a challenge for any one CRAP to stand out from the crowd. However, one CRAP-sender was willing to go above and beyond the call of duty in order to cement the keen memory of her CRAP in Skor's memory. Yes, I'm talking about our good friend M____ H_______ of Week 20 fame. The CRAP that she was responsible for mailing was by itself only memorable enough to be LowLight of the Week, but the follow-up series of emails that Skor received less than two weeks later were enough to earn Ms. H_______'s mailing the coveted title of LowLight of the Year.

View/Hide the full LowLight of the Year story.

In honor of this award, Skor would like to take some time to summarize the saga of M____ H_____'s CRAP, and share some new insights into what happened. As you recall, Skor posted the Project CRAP: Week 20 Report on May 24th, 2005, featuring the usual scan of the week's LowLight, and a scant seventy-five words of commentary. The LowLight happened to be a postcard sent by a real estate agent named M____ H_______. So far so normal. On June 4th, however, things took a turn for the bizarre when M____ H_______ sent Skor an email. In it she claimed that Skor was "so upset that you had to make fun of a hardworking, single mom" and that she was "treated like some lowlife." She also insisted that "it's one think to take a crack at the big corporations like Bed, Bath and Beyond, but it's another thing to go after one small person who is just trying to make a living." In closing, she requested "could you please remove my postcard and my name from your website. Thank you." In a response on June 6th, Skor assured Ms. H_______ that "The LowLight of the Week 'award' is not intended to disparage or tear down the businesses whose junk mail is featured, but to highlight the silliness of the mailings themselves." Skor closed with: "I wish you the best in your business and personal ventures, but I am going to have to decline your request to remove your mailing from Project CRAP."
View/Hide Skor's first email to M____ H_______.
Dear Ms. H_______,

I am sorry that you took my comments in the week 20 Project CRAP report to be some sort of personal attack on your character or your business. They were by no means meant as such. As stated on the introductory page, the purpose of Project CRAP is to document, measure, and comment on any and all Commercially Related Advertising Post (junk mail) that arrives in my mailbox through the course of 2005. Project CRAP does not discriminate, and even companies that I regularly patronize have had their mailings featured as a LowLight. The LowLight of the Week "award" is not intended to disparage or tear down the businesses whose junk mail is featured, but to highlight the silliness of the mailings themselves.

While I understand that junk mail is fully legal and a common part of doing business in the modern day, nonetheless I find it to be wasteful and at times aggravating. The reason for doing this project is to highlight the extreme cumulative waste generated by junk mail, as well as highlight the silliness of it, in that it does not convince me to buy the products or services being advertised.

The bottom line is that your postcard appeared in my mailbox unsolicited, and advertised a product or service. Therefore it falls under this project's definition of CRAP. In addition, your postcard stood out the most of all the pieces of CRAP that arrived that week, and was therefore featured. Nothing disparaging was said in the post about your character as a person, or your business in general, but rather the comments were about the mailing in particular.

I wish you the best in your business and personal ventures, but I am going to have to decline your request to remove your mailing from Project CRAP.

Yours truly,
Skor Grimm
Hide Skor's first email to M____ H_______.
In spite of Skor's clarity and general friendliness, Ms. H_______ was not at all satisfied. Mere hours later Ms. H_______'s reply arrived, in which she insisted that she was "NOT a company," and therefore somehow exempt from being featured in Project CRAP. She continued to accuse Skor of making "disparaging and just plain mean remarks" and making an "attack on my character." She did yield some ground, though: "I've looked over the other advertisements in your "CRAP" section and I only see business names. There are NO other personal names mentioned. So fine, keep my mailing on your website, but PLEASE remove my name, picture and other personal information." Again, Skor replied in a cordial manner, telling Ms. H_______ "I am sorry that you feel you are under some sort of personal attack by my posting." Skor also explained that "Since you are doing business under your personal name, it makes sense that I would refer to your name, rather than a business name." But Skor yielded some ground as well: "I have removed references to your full name, as well as blurred your picture." Skor even extended an invitation: "You are also welcome to write a full rebuttal to my post, which I am willing to post unedited in its entirety."
View/Hide Skor's second email to M____ H_______.
Ms. H_______,

Again, I am sorry that you feel you are under some sort of personal attack by my posting. I am sure that you are a hard-working business person, doing your best to make an honest living. The manner in which you created the mailing you sent out is not important to me, nor was it commented on in my post. Additionally, the amount of money you are or are not making is also not important to me, nor was it commented on in my post. Though my comments were indeed sarcastic (as are most of the posts I make on my blog), they were in no way disparaging toward you or your livelihood, but rather silly remarks about the postcard that I received.

With regard to your comments about the other CRAP posts referring only to business names and not personal names, this is due to the fact that the vast majority of junk mail I receive is from businesses that do business under a formal business name. Since you are doing business under your personal name, it makes sense that I would refer to your name, rather than a business name.

In spite of these facts, and though I am fully within my rights to post and comment on anything and everything that arrives in my mailbox unsolicited, I have removed references to your full name, as well as blurred your picture. You are also welcome to write a full rebuttal to my post, which I am willing to post unedited in its entirety. Again, the purpose of Project CRAP is not to disparage companies or individuals that are participating in our capitalist society, but to highlight what I feel is a silly method of advertising. I am sorry that you feel this is a hateful thing to do.

Yours truly,
Skor Grimm
Hide Skor's second email to M____ H_______.
Unfortunately, Ms. H_______ did not take Skor up on his unprecedented offer, but rather inexplicably chose to become even more upset. A mere hour later she complained: "My name still comes as a LowLight on your website when it's typed into Google. Please find a way to get rid of this." She also threatened: "My daughter, who is studying law down at the University, has convinced me to call a lawyer regarding this. I was told that you are causing me "mental anguish", which you DO NOT have the right to do, and I would have the right to sue for damages." And then she reverted to her original demands: "Please remove all references that even LOOK like it could be me. Or just take the card and the nasty remarks off of there." Demonstrating incredible patience, Skor amicably replied yet again: "I am sorry that my post has brought you so much grief, as that was never what it was intended to do." He also explained how search engines work: "Google maintains their index of websites, and it is automatically updated on their schedule." And although in his third email Skor insisted "I am afraid I must draw the line," he gave it some more thought and sent a fourth email explaining that "I have decided to demonstrate that I am not out to get you, nor do I harbor any ill will toward you, and have gone one step further in my censorship of your postcard in my report."
View/Hide Skor's third email to M____ H_______.
Ms. H_______,

I am sorry that my post has brought you so much grief, as that was never what it was intended to do. I am saddened to hear that in spite of my efforts to work with you toward a reasonable solution, you are still upset with me. What you are referring to now, with regards to the Google search is something that is outside of my control. Google maintains their index of websites, and it is automatically updated on their schedule. What this means is that the next time their index automatically updates (on average once a month), the change that I have made to my page will be reflected. Again, I have no control over this, but it will automatically be changed in the manner you desire in a short time.

With respect to your continued insistence that I remove all reference to your junk mailing from my site, I am afraid I must draw the line. Once Google updates their index, there will be no public link between your name and my site, and the only way that anyone will find it is if they are browsing through my Project CRAP reports, or the general history on my blog. Even then the only way that they would be able to tell that you are the source of the mailing would be if they already know you. I feel that this is a completely reasonable compromise, and that I am 100% within my legal and moral right to leave it as such.

I offer you my sincere best wishes, and I hope that you are able to see that I am being reasonable and fair, rather than nasty and hateful.

Yours truly,
Skor Grimm
Hide Skor's third email to M____ H_______.
View/Hide Skor's fourth email to M____ H_______.
Ms. H_______,

Upon further consideration, I have decided to demonstrate that I am not out to get you, nor do I harbor any ill will toward you, and have gone one step further in my censorship of your postcard in my report. I still believe that I am 100% within my legal and moral right to have left it the way it originally was, but I am doing this as a gesture of good will. I sincerely hope that this is satisfactory to you.

Yours truly,
Skor Grimm
Hide Skor's fourth email to M____ H_______.
Apparently that last email did the trick, because Skor didn't hear from M____ again until she wished him a happy 4th of July in the form of an e-card. So at least this story has a happy ending. But considering that no other piece of CRAP in all of 2005 even has a story, the choice for LowLight of the Year was clear.
Hide the full LowLight of the Year story.

LowLight of 2005: M____ H_______ - Century 21
Click for a larger version of the big 2005 winner.

Comments: Well, Project CRAP has finally come to a conclusion... or has it? If you recall the Week 36 report, you may remember that Skor pointed out a "do not mail" and a "do not pre-approve" list, and indicated his intent to sign up on both of those at the year's end. Well, 2005 is over, and Skor has indeed signed up on both of those lists, thus creating Project Anti-CRAP. The "do not mail" list requires you to either pay $5 of protection money to sign up online, or send your request for free by postal mail. Both lists claim that signing up will not actually take effect until thirty to ninety days later. In order to measure the performance of these two lists, Skor will continue to measure how much CRAP he receives each week and add it to the master spreadsheet. Skor has created the graph below, "Pounds of CRAP per Week," on which the dark blue line is the actual pounds of CRAP received each week, and the dashed orange line is a super-mathematical curve representing a sort of smoothed average. Hopefully the new lines representing the CRAP of 2006 will show up much lower on the graph. Expect updates once per quarter on the progress of Project Anti-CRAP.

Pounds of CRAP per Week.
Pounds of CRAP per Week. (Click to view full-sized.)

Conclusions: One year ago, Skor set out to discover how much CRAP he would receive in 365 days. Now, thanks to Project CRAP, Skor and all his readers finally have the answer to that question, and also a lovely slideshow that shows a box filling with CRAP. If every household in America gets as much CRAP as Skor does each year, then a minimum of 4.56 billion pounds of CRAP are received each year, occupying a volume of 156.88 million cubic feet, enough to completely fill the ill-fated Kingdome two and a third times. Skor hopes that you recycle. After meticulously collecting and cataloging all of his CRAP for twelve months, Skor is now the proud owner of a forty-three pound box of CRAP. Maybe he will sell it on eBay.

365 Days of CRAP
365 Days of CRAP

(Slideshow performance will be affected by your connection speed.
As in it will load very slowly on dial-up. After it runs through once it should be okay.)

Categories: Features

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