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BT and Virgin Media – The Excess Marketing Letter SPAM Kings

Monday, October 12th, 2015 (1:23 am) - Score 1,219

Mirror mirror on the wall, which of the biggest broadband ISPs sends the most marketing junk of them all? The latest survey of 1,139 ISPreview.co.uk readers has revealed that nearly all receive ISP marketing mail through their letter boxes at home, but some suffer significantly more junk than others.

The survey found that 85.2% of respondents have received marketing mail (posted letters) from a broadband ISP, other than their own provider, during the past three months. In terms of quantity, some 45.6% have received 2 to 3 items of ISP related marketing mail through their letterbox in the past month alone, while 14.1% saw 4-6 items and 8.2% claim to be receiving 7 items or more.

Excessive advertising spam is perhaps symptomatic of the UK’s aggressively competitive broadband market, with ISPs being so keen to promote themselves that they’ll sometimes even spam home owners with near identical promotions once or even twice a week, which soon becomes annoying.

In other situations the service being promoted may not even be available to your location, but that doesn’t seem to stop the marketing departments. Overall the two worst offenders in all this appear to be Virgin Media and BT, at least according to more than half of our survey respondents.

Have you received marketing mail (posted letters) from a broadband ISP, other than your own, in the past three months?
Yes – 85.2%
No – 14.7%

On average, how much marketing mail do ISPs put through your letter box per month?
2-3 Items – 45.6%
1 Item – 22.9%
4-6 Items – 14.1%
None – 9%
7 Items+ – 8.2%

In your opinion, which of these ISPs sends you the most junk / spam in the post?
Virgin Media – 29.3%
BT – 28%
TalkTalk – 23.2%
Sky Broadband – 13.7%
Other – 4.9%
EE – 0.7%

The good news is that you can sometimes put a stop to this annoyance by contacting the provider concerned and asking them to quit sending you rubbish, although the fact that consumers have to spend their own time to do this is a frustration in itself and in any case it doesn’t always work. Marketing departments seem to have a short memory for the word STOP!

Royal Mail also offers a programme to stop some of the SPAM, although this generally only applies to leaflets and un-addressed mail (here). So here are some other things that you could try.

ISPreview.co.uk’s Top Tips for Dealing with ISP Marketing Junk

1. Convert the unwanted promotions into paper-mache, such as to recreate unpopular political figures (there are many to choose from) in time for the 5th November celebrations.

2. Put it all into the recycle bin and feel happy, safe in the knowledge that it will be recycled into yet more promotions and put right back through your letter box again next week.

3. Redirect the mail back to the sending ISP, ideally as part of a persistent local community effort, until they get the message to stop and or suffocate under the sheer weight of all that unwanted paper.

4. Make paper aircraft and throw them towards a fellow family member or friend, thus passing the responsibility for dealing with said waste onto another unwitting human. You may need to create a lot of planes, but expect retaliatory action.

5. Just allow your [insert pets name here] to continue eating it, as per usual. A bit of toxic ink never did animals any harm, right? Oh.

Meanwhile this month’s new survey asks how much you know about the estimated speed of your broadband ISP connection and whether or not you run regular speedtests to keep track of any changes? Vote Here.

Leave a Comment
18 Responses
  1. Avatar FibreFred says:

    I only get junk mail from one ISP – Virgin and its at least twice a month, sometimes three. Doesn’t bother me too much I check the back see its from them and it goes straight to recycle, I won’t waste my time trying to cancel it I don’t mind them wasting their money to be honest even if its a small amount.

    1. Avatar Steve Jones says:

      Me too. It is only VM at least 10 times a year. It’s never addressed (as that would fall foul of my Mail Preference System opt-out). It goes straight in the recycle bin unopened.

      On the positive side, distributing this sort of stuff is valuable income for the Royal Mail and, maybe, it will go some way to keeping postage costs lower than they would otherwise be.

    2. Avatar Clark says:

      “… It’s never addressed (as that would fall foul of my Mail Preference System opt-out).”

      You can not be a member of that or similar as stuff which is unaddressed is exactly what it stops. Anything addressed “To home owner” “Occupier” and similar is what it should be stopping.

    3. Avatar Steve Jones says:


      No, the MPS only deals with direct marketing mail. That is addressed mail.


      The Royal Mail has a separate system for unaddressed mail, but if you sign up for that is blocks all unaddressed mail, including important stuff you might get from the local authorities.


    4. Avatar Clark says:

      Ah could be the second link i am subbed to which has stopped 99% of the carp that used to come through my door from BT. Still managed to get me when they released their over priced mobile offerings as they had some poor sap hand delivering leaflets round my way.

  2. Avatar Captain.Cretin says:

    I refer to the stuff as “Loft Insulation”; this also includes the local freebie newspaper.

  3. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

    Personally our home tends to get about two from Virgin Media each week, with BT doing one every couple of weeks. Virgin’s is almost always the same promotion (a letter that displays as a sample bill to show how much could be saved etc.).

    In the place where we lived before it was Sky that hit us with one spam a week, while Virgin Media came a more distant second at twice a month. The building actually couldn’t support Virgin Media’s service, but still the promotions came.

    We also saw the occasional one from TalkTalk in our old home, but in the new place we haven’t seen any. I often wonder what metrics the ISPs use to target specific areas.

    1. Avatar nknklnkl says:

      They’re the ones I get too.

      Have had 2-3 from Virgin every week for about 4 years.

  4. Avatar Pete Woods says:

    The most annoying ones are the BT ones trekking me to upgrade to Infinity, when it’s not available in my area.

    1. Avatar Pete Woods says:


    2. Avatar Craski says:

      You’ve got to love getting those “High speed fibre broadband is now available in your area” cards through your door when it clearly isnt …

  5. Avatar tonyp says:

    I shall grow flowers/tomatoes/potatoes on the composted remains of the flyers (well at least the addressed pages – the rest gets recycled) so I’m happy about the situation – Not! Mind you, I get quite annoyed with Virgin and BT’s bumpf indicating that I can have superfast broadband when my locality is not even on the local ‘Connected Counties’ list of postcodes due to get FTTC/P.

  6. Avatar rage says:

    royal mail shouldn’t be allowed to deliver junk mail.

    1. Avatar tonyp says:

      For what it is worth, I believe the Direct Marketing Authority(?) can allow you to register for no advertising material (junk mail). Like the Telephone Preference Service. Not that I think it is worth a candle and it wouldn’t stop charity junk mail (especially to pensioners) anyway.

    2. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      The problem is that only stops promotional leaflets and un-addressed mail, but it doesn’t prevents marketing letters that on the surface look legitimate and are addressed directly to the home owner. At least not in my experience. Most of the letter spam is addressed personally (such details can easily be found).


    3. Avatar Steve Jones says:

      If the Royal Mail weren’t allowed to do this the downside would probably be an increase in postage charges. In any event, if the Royal Mail didn’t deliver this sort of unaddressed marketing mail, some other outfit would do it (I get enough stuff from local pizza places and the like).

  7. Avatar Sean McRobbie says:

    In addition to the junk mail Virgin turn up at my doorstep every few months even though I am already a customer! An infuriating waste of my monthly subscription.

  8. Avatar JamesM says:

    And now we are being told BT offers better streaming than VM (something the ASA have been told about because it’s lies) then we can expect to get a lot more.

    I pile them up and every few months send then back at the companys expense.. they stop after a while 🙂

    God bless freepost addresses 🙂

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