Viral Video Fact-Check: Will Mailing Wood To Credit Card Solicitors Cost Banks More Money?


Over the last few days, hundreds of thousands of people have viewed Artie Moffa‘s “Keep Wall Street Occupied” video, which suggests sending back unsolicited credit card offer envelopes to banks stuffed with everything from oxygen to roofing shingles. This will, of course, force the banks to pay postage for what is essentially junk mail. It’s brilliant, creative, and incredibly mischievous. But is it true? Before people start visiting their local hardware stores, buying up wood shims and roofing shingles, Mediaite decided to check some of Moffa’s claims with the highest authority on the matter: the United States Postal Service (who, in a fun political twist, just announced that replicas of the 2011 White House Holiday Ornament are on sale at all of their branches).

Mediaite ran six of Moffa’s claims by a spokesman for the USPS. This is what we found:

1. Banks sign contracts with the post office to get the bulk reply postage.
USPS Fact Check: False. They do trust accounts.

2. Postage on the bulk reply envelopes is only paid if people send them back.
USPS Fact Check: True.

3. Sending the envelopes back empty costs banks about 25 cents per envelope.
USPS Fact Check: False. That price given is just speculation.

4. The heavier the envelope is, the more it’s going to cost the banks in postage.
USPS Fact Check: True.

5. Putting a piece of wood in the envelope makes the envelope stiff. The rigidity of it (not the added weight) means it costs more in postage.
USPS Fact Check: True on the rigidity claim for most envelopes, but the bulk mail recipients won’t be charged extra in this case.

BONUS FACT-CHECK: Netflix spends more on postage for mailing DVDs because of their stiffness.
USPS Fact Check: True, but only for mailers who have rigid packaging from edge to edge. This is false, however, in the case of Netflix, whose DVDs are not considered rigid by the USPS.

Moffa’s idea is still genius. He might have been off on the price of the mailings, but it’s still going to cost the banks something if these envelopes are mailed. It could eventually lead to the banks, naturally, passing the costs on to customers, but there would have to be a ton of envelopes returned for a dent to be made. And even though the wood shim might make the envelope more expensive by adding weight, the post office won’t charge the bulk mailers extra for its rigidity.

Even if you disagree with everything OWS stands for, the idea of sending back unsolicited credit card offers seems like a fun way to mess with banks who send unwanted mail, while helping the USPS make some extra revenue at the same time.

Enjoy Moffa’s video below, especially if you haven’t already:

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