'It's not okay': Woolworths customer slams catalogue 'mess'

Woolworths has been blasted for contributing to an infuriating mail issue that shoppers have complained leave residential streets lined with unsightly and wasteful trails of rubbish.

A shopper accused the supermarket on Monday of being irresponsible with its distribution of promotional material, claiming catalogues were being delivered to homes with “no junk mail” stickers.

Sometimes, the customer from Sydney argued, the catalogues were tossed onto the front verge of people’s homes and often nowhere near their letterbox.

Photo shows piles of catalogues stacked on top of letterboxes in Sydney, NSW.
This scene caused the man to take his outrage online, accusing retailers of irresponsibly distributing materials. Source: Facebook

“The indiscriminate delivery of advertising material (yours included Woolies) in our local neighbourhoods is nothing short of littering, impacting on amenity and the environment,” he wrote on Facebook.

The man shared an image of dozens of rolled catalogues on top of a unit block’s communal letterbox to illustrate the severity of the issue. He said a Woolworths brochure was among them.

“Elsewhere, leaflet deliveries to houses are generally thrown on the grass verge and in most cases, not even anywhere near letter boxes,” he added.

The unwanted material often ended up “trampled” and became a “soaking mess” after a downpour he said, arguing that incidents like these were not isolated “and it is not okay”.

“Woolies, right now, you are contributing to this problem,” he wrote.

Another shopper agreed, writing in a comment to his post: “wow, what a waste of paper”.

A Woolworths spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia they were disappointed to see the man’s post.

“We have a number of initiatives in place to ensure our catalogue distributors do the right thing when delivering our catalogues so we’re disappointed to see this,” they said.

“We have raised our concerns with our suppliers for further investigation. We know how important value and specials are to our customers right now.

“We’ll continue to offer our printed catalogue alongside our digital version for the foreseeable future, so our customers can discover specials in the way that works best for them. We’ll continue to listen to our customers and tailor our approach in line with their evolving needs.”

Coles recently announced it would be ceasing the distribution of its catalogues to people’s homes, and instead have them available in-store for shoppers who wanted to use them. This has not gone unnoticed by the complaining shopper who wished Woolworths would do the same.

Woolworths has been criticised over the distribution of its catalogues. Source: Getty Images
Woolworths has been criticised over its distribution of its catalogues. Source: Getty Images

Coles has however attracted criticism over its decision, as some argued it unfairly disadvantaged senior customers who had long relied on delivered catalogues to plan their shop ahead of time.

Others argued in favour of the environmental benefits, saying they outweighed any concern for elderly shoppers facing difficulty completing their grocery shopping.

“We are looking to your decisive action here Woolies to finding more effective ways to advertise that are also sustainable and protect our environment,” the shopper concluded.

Yahoo News Australia has contacted Woolworths for comment.

‘Grossly irresponsible”

Clean Up Australia CEO Terrie-Ann Johnson told Yahoo News Australia distributors weren’t only ripping off advertisers, they were “littering and should be prosecuted”.

“The fault lies with the distributers. The advertisers that are being ripped off because they’ve paid for this material, they’ve contracted a distributor to distribute it under terms and conditions, and then people breach that contract,” Ms Johnson said.

“They’re ripping everybody off, they’re littering, they should be called out and they should be prosecuted. And it’s not okay to ignore the no junk mail advice.”

Ms Johnson encouraged the public to report receiving irresponsibly distributed materials to the The Distribution Standards Board (DSB) – a self-regulatory body of the letterbox distribution industry.

“It’s grossly irresponsible from the distributor. It should be called out and followed through,” Ms Johnson said.

If consumers wanted to go the extra mile, she encouraged them to contact advertisers featured inside poorly distributed catalogues to inform them of how their materials had been handled.

“The most immediate thing you can do is get them all into the recycling bin,” she said.

Ms Johnson expressed her support for Coles’ move to an online catalogue, however acknowledged the challenges this posed to senior shoppers who previously used them to plan their shop.

“There is going to be some teething problems, but we understand why Coles has gone down this path.”

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