Technology Tuesday: PaperKarma

I used to get bombarded with telemarketing calls and junk email. Using Google Voice as my primary number and taking advantage of their spam filters & National Do Not Call list, I rarely, if ever, get a telemarketing call these days. Likewise, with GMail’s automatic Spam filtering, and unsubscribing from senders that get through, it is also rare for me to get junk email anymore. BUT: what about all the paper junk sent through the mail? My mailbox is completely out of control. Pounds and pounds of junk mail every week. Ever try to get yourself removed from these junk mail senders? Not easy. Typically, you need to write a letter and mail it in.

What if you could use your smartphone and take one picture of unwanted catalogs, magazines, credit card offers, newspaper solicitations, phone books, etc. and magically stop getting this junk mail? You can!

PaperKarma is a free new app available for iPhone, Android, and even for the 27 of you using Windows Phone.

What’s the use of this app? Billions upon billions of pounds of mailings are sent yearly that never get looked at: from the mailbox and right into the trash bin. Regardless of the environmental impact, this is just plain annoying. PaperKarma will put a huge dent in this problem. It’s like a Spam Filter for your REAL mailbox.

Sweet! How does it work?

  1. Download the app.
  2. Open app.
  3. Take picture of offending mailing.
  4. Click ‘Unsubscribe Me’.
  5. Wait.
  6. Profit!

Just take the picture of the logo, return address or other identifying mark and make sure it is clear. If not, you can re-take the picture. After clicking “Unsubscribe Me,” the picture will upload and PaperKarma analyzes it to figure out who sent it. Upon successful identification, they will handle writing the cease and desist letter on your behalf.

[Results screen from PaperKarma]

How long does this wizardry take? Snap a picture & upload. You are done. Nothing more to do for you. On PaperKarma’s side, the identification can take anywhere from several hours to a day or more. Once identified, the processing of unsubscribe requests can take another day or two. You can see from above results, for example, that a New York Times’ subscription solicitation (that I get monthly) was successfully completed as were a couple of catalogs including Pottery Barn and The Wooden Soldier. Soft Surroundings has been successfully identified but not unsubscribed, and there’s a couple still waiting to be identified.

How accurate is it? Uncannily accurate. I have uploaded a couple dozen pictures (unsubscribe requests) so far and barring the most recent ones that are still being identified, all of them were 100% matched with the appropriate sender. Amazing!

I can’t speak to the follow through as it is too early to tell if those mailings will continue or not. My money is on PaperKarma though if the design of the app & the execution of the identification mean anything.

Will I be able to stop all junk mail? No, sadly not. The crap you get that is mail bombed to every house in your town can’t be stopped since that is not a mailing list and just an advertiser paying for bulk distribution. However, many different types of mail CAN be stopped.

Bottom Line Gorgeous design, simple to use, painless and free app that harnesses technology to help save the planet and you the grief of opening the mailbox and dealing with volumes of junk mail every day.

Imagine having to open every catalog, mailing, and solicitation that you are no longer interested in, researching unsubscribe details, writing letter requesting to be removed from mailing list and spending the money on postage and envelopes to get this Herculean task done.

This app is a keeper!

Happy PaperKarma’ing!


Hidden Track Technology Tuesday
email: [email protected]
voice-mail:  (781) 285-8696

Have an idea for an article? Product, app, or web service you are passionate about? Feel free to get in touch with me.

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One Response

  1. Weird! Last week I was thinking the same thing: How I have successfully managed to [almost] completely rid myself of spam email and tele-marketing calls but my real mailbox is totally blowing up!

    Such odd coincidence: Now I find this! Totally cool.

    Already downloaded and snapped a few shots…waiting for identification.

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