Mailing lists. Call-in lists. These are a bane in the lives of both staff members and public. Once you get onto a mailing list it is almost impossible to get off. It is probably one of the clearest demonstrations of the organisational “held down 7’s” in the Scientology structure.
It is also a symptom of the policy-without-judgement culture that exists. Policy stipulates that the size of the org mailing list is the best indicator of the health of the organisation. This results in a refusal to remove names, or at least make it very difficult.
In understaffed orgs (pretty much all of them), new lists are printed for each call-in event. Those lists are worked on by numerous staff (all-hands) who write copious notes of people wanting to be removed, numbers changed or no longer in existence and even people who died years ago (in one case, lists were printed with names of people that had been dead for more than a decade).
The Div6 bookbuyer lists in particular are a total nightmare as although there are thousands of names, only a tiny fraction of people are contactable or even willing to speak to someone inviting them to an event that should strictly speaking be for seasoned Scientologists only.
The problem is that once the call in for that particular event is finished, these lists with all the notes and changes are thrown in a drawer somewhere and then eventually trashed – the corrections never actually make it onto the “Parishioner Call-In-System” which the Church spent huge sums of money designing and developing. The system installed in Joburg Org has never worked properly, and no staff member may use the system unless fully hatted. At one point in 2012, there were only 3 staff members who knew how to get into the system and print lists. Since Joburg Org opened in 2003, it has only ever had one fully trained and hatted CF Officer on post – he lasted less than 6 months.
And because the org simply does not have the resources (staff or time) for someone to sit for hours correcting lists, the lists stay the same – year in and year out. And so, come the next event, the same old lists are printed with the same mistakes and errors – and on it goes. The wasted money in calls to wrong numbers is astronomical. On average, once the “core” group of Scientologists has been contacted, one is lucky if 2 or 3 names can be contacted on a list of 60 names. Imagine what this means in terms of wasted phone call costs.
Every day orgs around the world receive calls from irate people demanding to be removed from a list. On occasion people have actually walked into Joburg Org with physical threats if they ever get another call from the org, and the poor call-inners get screamed at, sworn at and thoroughly abused by the person who by now has had enough.
Even if the org does remove their name it’s not that simple. Higher orgs ask for the lists of lower orgs, the central mailing unit located in Los Angeles demands lists from everyone. The result of all this is that a public will receive mail from multiple orgs and very often from the same orgs with varied spelling of names.
And of course, every member of a family gets the same mailing, so one household can get up to 9 copies of the same promo. The result is mountains of printed and useless mail which is either returned to the org or thrown away. In July 2013, there were 10 crates of returned mail sitting in Joburg’s CF office – just dumped there collecting dust because there was no-one on post to handle them. Some of the returned mail had originated from overseas lists and had been addressed to “The High Commissioner – Johannesburg, South Africa” or “The Captain, Cape Town” and other similar undeliverable addresses. These envelopes contained very expensive press-packs, glossy magazines and info DVD’s being sent to VIP’s around South Africa. When the DSA was shown this, she shrugged her shoulders apathetically and walked out of CF. That’s another held down 7 – the sheer volume of printed mail.
The same thinking has moved to email lists. Unsubscribe all you want, you just can’t get off. And if you happen to have more than one email address (work and home for example) you will guaranteed be getting 2 of everything. Not only this, but each “section” or activity will send out the same email about an event, so one is likely to get the same email from WISE, SMI, ABLE, OT Committee, and every other org that has your name.
In 2012 it was discovered that the Joburg email promo was even being sent to the org’s creditors, so Nedbank, Stationers and any other company that had ever supplied the org with anything was also receiving the org’s promo!
The best way to get off lists of course is to be declared. During the purge of late 2013 there was clearly an effort to clean up the lists of undesireables and the mail, both printed and electronic stopped. Names were removed and instructions were sent to various Scientology-affiliated groups demanding that names be removed.
However the compulsion to have large mailing lists will resist even these efforts. We re now seeing that declared and other black-listed people are finding their way back onto lists and are again receiving mail.
It is only a matter of time before the new erroneous lists revert back to the old lists and the cycle starts again. Or there will be a recovery drive to get back old and lost people and the orgs will be getting a new round of angry phone calls from people who were angry and irritated years ago.