Monday, January 19, 2009

Saving 1-800-Got-Junk

It’s time again for me to save the 1-800-GOT-JUNK people from themselves by removing their signs.

Another way I'll help is by using the 1-800-GOT-JUNK name a lot in this post.

They'll like that, I know because the company likes having the 1-800-GOT-JUNK name everywhere.

That's the problem.

1-800-GOT-JUNK signs are going up AGAIN all over the neighborhood.

I really should invoice 1-800-GOT-JUNK for my sign removal work. Then again, I do get paid off in their 1-800-GOT-JUNK signs, which I keep after removal from the shoulders of our streets.

I’ve probably collected four or five dozen 1-800-GOT-JUNK signs over the years. I’ve even found 1-800-GOT-JUNK signs on Terwilliger Parkway. Who knows, 1-800-GOT-JUNK may plant its signs in our parks and cemeteries.

To 1-800-GOT-JUNK, the entire city is a billboard.

The 1-800-GOT-JUNK signs are moderately useful to me because they usually have a blank side where I can write with my medium-point Sharpie. When my wife has her annual pottery sale, I write stuff like “Pottery Sale today!” on the blank sides and put the signs up early in the morning.

I’ve also written “Impeach Bush” and “Peace Now!” on 1-800-GOT-JUNK signs.

Of course I mask out the “1-800-GOT-JUNK” on the other side.

Besides getting free signs to write on, why am I doing 1-800-GOT-JUNK a favor?

Well, it’s clear that 1-800-GOT-JUNK signs, which are not intended to come down after a day’s exposure on our streets, are littering the public right-of-way. You’ll notice that, with the exception of Realtors (who, alas, are a special case), 1-800-GOT-JUNK is the only company (except, until recently, Jobdango) to put up signs in the neighborhood. Oh, a few gutter cleaners and painters post on utility poles, but they are fairly cooperative when I tell them they are breaking the law.

Obsessed as I am, I carry a long metal rod in my car for knocking down such signs.

But 1-800-GOT-JUNK doesn’t seem to care that it is breaking the law by putting up the signs. 1-800-GOT-JUNK knows the city has better things for its police to do than bust 1-800-GOT-JUNK.

Still, what company in its right corporate mind actually wants to be known for so blatantly and visibly violating the law?

And the answer is … 1-800-GOT-JUNK.

Not smart. So I’ve taken to making 1-800-GOT-JUNK folks look smarter than they are.

Right now I have five newly removed 1-800-GOT-JUNK signs in my garage (see photo). I happen to know that each costs about $10, which I suppose is pretty cheap publicity. In this case it is cheap BAD publicity. And it junks up the neighborhood. Got Junk indeed.

In the past, I have called the owner of our local franchise to inform him about the problem with 1-800-GOT-JUNK signs. His name is Tom. His number is not 1-800-GOT-JUNK (which gets you an operator in Peoria or some distant American burg where they now actually pay people less than folks in phone call centers in Bangkok or Mumbai).

Tom’s number is — should you ever be so moved to call (hint, hint) — 503-209-9253. Tom is actually a very nice guy. After listening to me politely but firmly inform him of the downside of his sign advertising, Tom always assures me that he never. EVER, will put up 1-800-GOT-JUNK signs in Hillsdale again.

A few months go by and, as sure as the daffodils sprout in the March and local coyotes munch on neighborhood cats, out come his 1-800-GOT-JUNK signs.

Tom clearly has a recall problem. I’ve come to think of it as an occupational hazard resulting from years in the 1-800-GOT-JUNK business.

So I’ve given up on Tom’s getting the message that he’s breaking the law and alienating a lot of people like me. I also tell him, as an extra incentive, that I will publicize what 1-800-GOT-JUNK is doing, but he just doesn’t care.

A likely possibility is that Tom is getting his orders from 1-800-GOT-JUNK corporate headquarters in someplace like New Jersey, the Cayman Islands or Southern California where breaking the law in places like Oregon is written into franchise agreements. (Okay, okay, my on-line research tells me the 1-800-GOT-JUNK headquarters is in Vancouver, B.C. where they ought to know better.)

I sometimes dream that when the world is a much better place, the CEO of 1-800-GOT-JUNK, who turns out to be one Brian Scudamore, will call to thank me for my years of service on behalf of the 1-800-GOT-JUNK company.

Until then, I’ll keep busy helping 1-800-GOT-JUNK in my own unassuming way.

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Anonymous jesse said...

hey there! my name is jesse, i used to work for tom maryschak at got junk and have personally defaced portland on behalf of got junk with more than just plastic signs.. of course i thought it was ok.. until- that is- i started my own junk removal company.. a couple months ago i stuck two signs up in portland and boy howdy did i hear about it.. i was immediately contacted by the police department with a cease and desist order or something like that.. they even photographed my signs just to remind me in case i had forgotten. needless to say the signs were removed never to reappear.. i guess i just wanted to say- from the "inside" that i agree with what you're saying. not because i'm a competitor- but because i'm guilty. my only question now is how the hell does got junk get away with it? there's a per-violation fine for littering as there is for placing unauthorized advertisements.. and yet they've never gotten more than a phone call. tom used to joke about it frequently- he'd say "if the police arent calling me- then you're not doing your jobs." (totally paraphrased).. anyway- randomly came across your page and wanted to throw in my two cents.. thanks!

4:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're not the only one pulling down their signs in Portland, there are a couple of us on the eastside doing our part - you can recycle the signs at any Farwest Fiber recycling depot.

Keep up the good work

BTW - there are two GJ franchises in Portland here's a link.

1:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find this quite humorous, so I'll add a should be a bit more accurate with your information, as Tom has not lived/worked/etc. in Portland since 2005!! Not sure who's answering that phone number you posted!

10:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with you that these signs are illegal in most places. However, you should call your local code enforcement officer and let them deal with this legally. You are a private citizen and you could be charged with theft for taking the signs. Also, by taking them down your may actually be hindering the investigation by the code enforcement officer. You have good intentions but let the people that are paid to deal with this issue handle it.

9:17 PM  
Blogger Rick Seifert said...

Actually, I did call the code enforcement folks, and they did write 1-800-Got-Junk to tell them that they were in violation of the law. The signs have not appeared since.

As for "theft" of the signs, I doubt that if I leave something in the public right of way, it's theft if you take it.

9:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also have snagged several hundred of these signs over the last few years, from my own region in Pennsylvania. I think it is a national (international?) problem sponsored by their corporate HQ. Herbalife got smacked down in 2002 for their sign policy, the same needs to happen to 1-800-GOT-JUNK.

As for the "people that are paid to deal with the issue" -- in most localities they are not doing it. So until the problem is solved at the source (1-800-GOT-JUNK office HQ), it's pretty much up to local citizens to do their part in keeping their communities clean.

7:25 PM  

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