8.20.2007

Don't Get Spammed By Similac With Unwanted Formula

So here's the story: Today I received two parcels from Similac (owned by Abbot Laboratories) of free formula - each parcel had 2 cans, 8 oz. each, one milk-based and one soy-based, of Similac formula. I received 2 identical parcels because, according to the first customer service rep that I spoke with, apparently 2 memberships in the Similac "Welcome Addition Club" (www.welcomeaddition.com) had been created for me by Similac out of info they had obtained about me from customer lists that they had purchased from BabiesRUs, ToysRUs, Motherhood Maternity, Mimi Maternity, A Pea in the Pod, and, as the customer service rep who I spoke with on the phone said, pretty much any baby-related business. I asked her to remove the two memberships, and asked her if it was Similac's policy to send unsolicited free formula to every mother whose information they obtained, whether or not she had indicated an interest in receiving free formula, and she said that yes, that was their policy. I registered my recommendation that they alter the policy so that they only send formula samples to women who have requested it, and ended the call.

I called back later to see what could be done for other moms who shopped at these places who DID NOT want to receive free formula, and this customer service rep said to make sure to instruct these businesses not to share my personal information. The problem, however, was that she couldn't give me a complete list of all of the businesses that Similac purchases customer information from. Moreover, she also confirmed that the mother's information could be picked up if someone else buys her a gift from one of these businesses. I explained that keeping her information from Similac was not entirely within a woman's control under these circumstances, and that I was simply looking for some means for a person to communicate in advance to the company that they did not want to receive free formula samples from Similac. She put me on hold for a couple of minutes, and when she came back she told me that mothers who wanted to make sure they did not receive formula samples from Similac could call the Welcome Addition Club customer service at 1-800-232-7677, and ask to be put on the "Do Not Mail" List.

So why all the fuss over receiving free samples of formula, you may ask? Why not just toss them? Well, actually there are several studies confirming that providing unsolicited samples and coupons for formula to women either through their "hospital discharge pack" or via their OB/Gyn office conclusively increases the rate of early abandonment of breastfeeding. As I've said before, breastfeeding is hard. It hurts; getting the latch right is hard; thrush, mastititis, engorgement, leaking through your shirt in inopportune moments, and painfully clogged milk ducts all add to the challenges. Lots of women unnecessarilly doubt whether their milk is "good enough" for their child (as the milk becomes higher in protein it takes on a more "watery" appearance that can be misleading, for example). So it's no wonder that studies find that thrusting formula into the hands of women who didn't ask for it will increase the rate and timing at which they give up.

Let me be clear - I have nothing against formula generally. Many women are unable to breastfeed, and it's wonderful that there is an option available for them that, while not quite as beneficial as breastmilk, is still perfectly adequate and safe. Many women simply choose not to breastfeed - see above re "hard" and "painful". That's their option, and they should have access to all the coupons and free samples they can get the formula companies to send them, because that stuff is not cheap. But if a woman is determined to breastfeed, she'll want every support and advantage on her side to help her be successful. Aside from picking doctors who support breastfeeding and will have resources available to help her deal with the challenges, finding lactation consultants in her area if they're available, and asking for the support of her family and friends to help her not feel the need to run and hide every time her child wants to eat (as is my own inclination, although I have nothing but admiration for my friends who manage it so effortlessly), she would also be wise to make sure that there isn't free formula getting put into her hands and mailbox - based on the information available about how this will diminish her chances of long-term success.

I hope this helps anyone out there who would like to not receive unwanted formula samples. I've forward this story to the Lactivist blog for wider circulation in case the author opts to pick it up. Ultimately it would be good to see something happen in the legal sphere prohibiting formula companies from sending free samples to women without first confirming whether they are interested in receiving them. Sheesh - there's a law against unsolicited emails; you'd think there could be a law against unsolicited formula for criminy's sake.

46 comments:

Anonymous said...

I would love to start a group to explicitly prevent this from happening. Do you know of anybody taking legal action against it? I was so mad when I got the samples in mail for my breast fed preemie. And I heard that these formulas are sent to parents that have lost a baby and are devastated. Thank you for posting this

Liz said...

Thanks. I don't know of any group trying to form a class action to sue Abbot Labs et al. for violation of privacy laws/misuse of personal information, but I would think there would be a case here if someone felt strongly enough about it to pursue it.

Abby said...

Just tonight I found a sample box of Similac products on my doorstep. This completely perplexes me, as I have a 5yo and 3yo, and haven't signed up for ANYTHING baby related in well over 2 years. I don't believe I've even purchased a baby gift that wasn't bought in store from a gift registry. Now beyond this blatant waste of product, what irks me is that I signed up for various sample and new baby mailers when I was expecting my two and got maybe 1 sample, a couple formula checks for a brand I didn't use, and... that's about it. Now, mysteriously, during the last year I got numerous mailers from my local hospital system regarding expectant mother wellness, new baby info, Gerber GoodStart checks, and Pampers swaddlers coupons. This was during a time when mailing for Pullups and Easyups coupons suddenly stopped (which I needed). I contacted Gerber and they said my info was received March of that year, but she couldn't (or wouldn't) tell me from who.
I even asked for samples from the hospital to have on hand with my second, and used Good Start while I was on an antibiotic and to keep at the g-parents houses since I was not overpumping since I quit work. Apparently it is their practice to deliver products and offers only to people who don't request them, as requesting them seems to put you on a do not mail list. Pampers still randomly sends me swaddlers crap, even though I've gone online and made sure my child profile is accurate on the website.

Just super annoyed and found your blog post ;)

Linda said...

Abby, I'll go you one even better - MY sons are now 26 and 28, and I just got a sample box from Similac!! I was going to drop them in our church's "food basket" donation box, then started thinking - "What if they're BAD or something? I didn't ASK for these, I didn't sign up for them... why did they get sent to me?" So of course, had to start Googling and that's how I arrived at this page too. I guess it sounds like they're fine, so I'll drop them in the box at church - but it sure seems like a big waste of money and time for the Similac folks, if they're being given lists of 50+ year old 'moms' to receive NEWborn formula samples! LOL

Anonymous said...

we have just receive this in our mail box and we are wondering why they send it to us. my wife just got miscarriage in the past year and she has gone some traumatic experiences. we don't have kids yet and we are still struggling. I don't know if they know the feeling of receiving this sample while you are still struggling to make one.
anyway I just come across this blog while goggling why we receive this similac club package from PHARMACOMMUNICATIONS DIRECT MKTG.

thank you for your blog it make us clear out some of our questions.

Anonymous said...

we have just receive this in our mail box and we are wondering why they send it to us. my wife just got miscarriage in the past year and she has gone some traumatic experiences. we don't have kids yet and we are still struggling. I don't know if they know the feeling of receiving this sample while you are still struggling to make one.
anyway I just come across this blog while goggling why we receive this similac club package from PHARMACOMMUNICATIONS DIRECT MKTG.

thank you for your blog it make us clear out some of our questions.

Anonymous said...

Egads, I'm going to be a mom! As a 68 year old grandfather, I was a bit surprised to receive this package in the mail. Had to sign for it at the post office....

Wendy said...

I'm not pregnant and do not have children, of any age (unless you are counting my 15 year old JRT!) So I was very surprised to have these samples show up in my mailbox and worried if I was going to be stuck in another scam like the magazines I finally got rid of receiving! Now I don't know what to do with these formula products or how to stop more from coming to my doorstep!

Anonymous said...

It is good info to know that other people are going through this same incident.Yes it is good to get this info out and talk about it.Yes myself have recieved 2 pkgs in mail and no we do not have children and are not pregnant.I called similac club and let them know what was gng on and said please to stop sending them.

Anonymous said...

We just received the samples today and are now worried that one of our single daughters might be pregnant but hasn't told us yet.

Gee thanks, Similac!

Anonymous said...

I received the free sample of Similac. Sent to my maiden name, which has not been used in nearly 10 years. I am not nor can I become pregnant. Someone sold out my name and address to this company and they carelessly sent this package. I agree with the statements that Abbott has violated privacy and misused personal information.

Anonymous said...

As a 67 year old grandfather, even if I self-identified as a woman, I regretfully will forever be denied the birth experience. Consequently, the only portion of my lovely gift that I can use is the pacifier. All in all, while I was brought up to never look a gift horse in the mouth, with my advancing years I would have preferred diapers.

Anonymous said...

I'm a 31 year old single guy who just received samples of this in the mail. I have no children and I am certainly am not expecting any. I contacted them about this to try and find out where they got my information. It will apparently take 24hrs for them to find out, but they are, in theory, tracking it down for me. Really annoying. What a waste time, energy, resources, and formula.

Liz said...

Don't forget folks, if you know anyone with kids under 1 year old who *are* feeding formula, or if there is a church or food bank taking food donations, you can at least put these to good use by giving them away.

Anonymous said...

We just received a Similac package yesterday. I am freaking out because, I have a 22 y/o son. I asked, did you have a baby and he said no. The package came addressed with our last name but with a first name that none of us know (not my sons gf's first name) I'm sort of relieved to see that others are receiving the Similac packages but still am wondering if there is something that I don't know..... Hmmm.... BTW, I'm 50 and neither myself nor my husband can have children any longer.

walkinbyfaith said...

I also started receiving mail for being a "new mom" and then today got a box of the formula. Before the formula I called a number to see why they were sending me stuff since I was not pregnant. They claimed it was cause I bought a baby gift or shopped at a baby store... I haven't ever done either, no did I sign up for anything. It's driving me nuts all the mail I've been getting. Will have to find someone to give the formula to.

Anonymous said...

I received free formula too. Addressed to my maiden name. My kids are 14 and 10 and I am not and cannot have any more kids. Who the hell sold my name and address? I am now receiving coupons for formula. I Ned my name off this list!!!

Anonymous said...

I received this as well. My children range in age from 12 - 27 years. Not one of them has not been weaned from breast milk/formula. How strange to want to send me something I clearly don't need. The people currently using their products are paying for this. Could their products be overpriced? How sad that money is being spent on this wasteful distribution rather than helping those that could really use help with adequate nutrition.

Anonymous said...

I just got sent a package. I'm single, have no children, and right now, there is NO CHANCE that's happening any time soon. Called the number to get myself off the list and am giving the box to a friend who is expecting. This is crazy!

Mike said...

Hi, I am a Single Male. I just received my Welcome to the Club sample at the post office. The only thing I can imagine this is connected with is my new boat. I emailed friends with jpg pictures and the title line was "my new Baby"....I sent it from work but a lot of my friends had Gmail addresses (I also have Gmail address and may have cc’d myself.) I was baffled when the post office staff handed me this.
I don't give my name to stores and have not purchased anything baby related in 7 years.

Mike said...

Hi, I am a Single Male. I just received my Welcome to the Club sample at the post office. The only thing I can imagine this is connected with is my new boat. I emailed friends with jpg pictures and the title line was "my new Baby"....I sent it from work but a lot of my friends had Gmail addresses (I also have Gmail address and may have cc’d myself.) I was baffled when the post office staff handed me this.
I don't give my name to stores and have not purchased anything baby related in 7 years.

andi taylor said...

i'm a 30 year old single woman from birmingham, alabama, and, i too, received a rather large box of similac samples in the mail a few days ago. i do not shop at any toy and/or maternity store - i really don't even like kids - so this clearly befuddled me. i then remembered that the store 'buy buy baby' is a conglomerate of 'bed bath & beyond' - a store in which i frequent. i am also signed up so i can get the 20% coupon that is periodically mailed and emailed to me. with that said, does anyone else on here shop at 'bb&b'?

andi taylor said...

i'm a 30 year old single woman from birmingham, alabama, and, i too, received a rather large box of similac samples in the mail a few days ago. i do not shop at any toy and/or maternity store - i really don't even like kids - so this clearly befuddled me. i then remembered that the store 'buy buy baby' is a conglomerate of 'bed bath & beyond' - a store in which i frequent. i am also signed up so i can get the 20% coupon that is periodically mailed and emailed to me. with that said, does anyone else on here shop at 'bb&b'?

Anonymous said...

Interesting information on this blog. Glad I found it. My daughter recently received a sample kit of Similac formula. She is 25 and just got married in June. The package came with her maiden name so it's possible they got her name through her wedding registries. Does this company assume a female in her mid-twenties only gets married because she's pregnant? That's the only thing I can figure out. She and her new husband also just relocated so I'm sure they have shopped at a store recently that shared their name. I hope the samples are good because I'm trying to give them away at work.

Yes, I am guilty of asking her if she needed to tell me some news. Wanted to make sure before I got rid of the samples.

Abby said...

I randomly checked this bookmark again - I stopped receiving their crap shortly after this. I believe I still got some more diaper type stuff but that has been it for awhile. I still have a credit card through babies r us but I seem to have been allowed a transition to Toys R Us since I haven't set foot in the BRU in a year and that was to buy a booster seat for an older child. I am also on the BB&B list, I'm sure it gets out from there. And then if you use a coupon with a barcode and your address, don't buy anything baby related! They will probably find you that way too. The excuse of "maybe you bought a baby gift" is ludicrous. How does that qualify you as a good target for baby paraphernalia.

Anonymous said...

Found this blog after I received something in the mail today tell me I had "2 Free Membership rewards" as I'm "preparing for motherhood." Actually, scratch that. I didn't receive this in the mail, it actually went to my MOM's house who called and asked if I had something to tell her. I'm 21 years old and am not pregnant, nor I have ever been pregnant. I don't shop at baby stores. I'm on birth control. How in the world did they get my information, and how in the world would they figure I'm pregnant? They need to consider that some people getting mail like this could cause serious problems/fights between family members. Luckily, my mom was joking and recommended I call and complain. But still. This is poor business/marketing practice.

Andrea said...

I am so glad to have found this post. I am 43, no children, yet had noticed recently I was getting various pieces of mail that seemed to target parents (health care, day care, etc) - and then just yesterday the box of Similac. I recently refinanced my home and wonder if this triggered the onslaught of unwanted mail? I certainly haven't been to ToysRUs or any other kid-related store. I think there's a larger problem here- not just with Similac - about how easily our information is given/sold to other businesses without our knowledge or permission. But I also agree that this is especially hurtful - all the posts above giving good reason why.

charlotte smith said...

I have a 17 year old daughter, why do I need formula. And I signed up for the baby registry in 1997, this is 2015. I have since moved twice, and I am also receiving baby magazines too. My husband brought the mail in the other day, and there was the formula in it, he then asked if there was something he needed to know. I said no, I am not pregnant and neither is our daughter. This is now becoming strange.
Charlotte Smith , Pensacola,Fl

Anonymous said...

I just got a box of formula from Similac as well and I don't have, nor do I plan to have, any children. I did buy some baby wipes for my french bulldog from a seller on Amazon. Thanks for posting this! It was really eerie! I had heard a while back that Target's marketers were able to determine that a man's teenage daughter was pregnant before he did based on her purchases, so I'd assumed that their marketer's were somehow tipped off by my recent purchase history.

How horrible that marketer's do this to exhausted mothers with sore breasts!!! I looked at the ingredients and the first one was CORN SYRUP!! I may be out of the loop when it comes to infant nutrition- and no disrespect to mothers who use this formula, but really??

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this!!! I received a package as well and was sooooo upset. I didn't ask for it and haven't shopped for anything pregnancy related or even told anyone about the pregnancy except healthcare providers.

Anonymous said...

I just received a box, too. As someone who doesn't have or even WANT children, I was surprised and offended. I filled out the Similac contact us form (including comments about how upsetting this may be for couples who desperately want children and can't conceive) and was about to hit submit when I realized I can DONATE THIS STUFF. Having kids is expensive, right?! So if Similac wants to keep sending me free samples that will benefit babies at WomenSafe, homeless shelters, orphanages, etc. then I'll keep donating them! Let's make something good come from Similac's wildly insensitive and intrusive campaign!

Anonymous said...

I have gotten 2 free boxes of formula this week; one from Enfamil, addressed to my husband, and one from Similac sent to me. We have only known we are expecting for a week! Crazy! Anyway, they don't bother me at all. I put them in the pantry. They don't expire for like 2 years. If something goes wrong with breastfeeding, I'll be glad to have them. If not, I have friends I could give them to and save them some money.

Anonymous said...

I just got one today, and here I am googling, thinking, "Why on earth did I get this? What is the universe saying to me? Does this happen to other people?" It was a big ole package of Enfamil with my maiden name on it (got married a couple of months ago). I think the Target gift registry may be to blame. Of note, we had a "baby gate" (specifically for our DOGS) on our list, which may or may not have contributed. I am not pregnant nor have I signed up for or bought any baby related stuff (beyond the dog "baby" gate). But I've seen claims of Target wedding registry accounts getting targeted (heh) elsewhere on the web.

Anonymous said...

hi everyone i am using similac formula, if you want to donate your free samples, I'm willing to take it. thank you

E. A. Haltom said...

Hi, I don't condone sharing the kind of personal information via the blog that would be required for people to ship you their unwanted samples; also this post is from several years ago and doesn't get very frequent traffic. If you have a neighborhood or community listserve that you can post to, or a Facebook account, asking people for their similac samples and/or coupons, that may be a good way to have these supplies directed to you.

Anonymous said...

I have no children, and received this package as well. So glad I found your post and the number to call. Thank you so much.

Anonymous said...

This same thing happened to me except it was sent to my parent's house. I intentionally use incognito tab when googling about pregnancy. I have only talked to my husband about it (he scheduled the Dr. appointment) and now my mom is looking at my funny because she received the package. I feel like my surprise is ruined because of their marketing practices. Even if it was a coincidence, it ruined my day and my excitement about telling the first time grandparents. If there is a class action suit I would love to be involved.

Anonymous said...

It's still going as of Jan 2017. Happened to me because I bought Monster High toys through Toysrus online. Nothing says baby like toys for over eight year olds.

Megan said...

I just got one at my parents' house in Ohio - they called me thinking I was pregnant. I am definitely not and haven't shopped anywhere that could be selling my info in a long, long time. I've lived in New Zealand for the past four years and haven't purchased any baby things for anyone back in the US. I don't understand why they just now started sending me things to an address I haven't lived at in 15 years. Seriously creepy. I will be avoiding their products from now on because of this. How do I get off this list?! Doesn't help that I am struggling with fertility issues!

Chelsea said...

I realize this blog post is old, but I wanted to share a new resource for women who, still in 2017, are receiving these unwanted packages that serve as intrusive reminders. I've started a company looking to help women unsubscribe from ALL of these mailings from retailers and manufacturers with one easy to use form. Rather than having to contact each and every company, a woman can submit one form from the same website they can utilize for resources and support for loss moms, from loss moms. If you'd be interested in this service or know someone else who would, please have them register to help show enough interest to get it up and running completely. http://postpardon.co/register/

This service is completely free.

As one loss mom - I know how much this can really impact a person's healing process.

Unknown said...

I am not pregnant nor plan on being anytime soon. The only baby store I have shopped at recently is babies-r-us. No more than a few weeks later I started to recieve samples and junk mail from this same place. I stumbled upon this page after doing a google search so this was helpful to know it wasn't just me. I was also able to convince my husband there was no news that I needed to share with him. Lol!

Oldest Daughter said...

I am not pregnant or have I ever been and I do not live in my parents house and yet TWO boxes of Similac has been sent to my parents home in the last two weeks. I called Abbout Nutrition which the boxs says its from and they are looking into it.

Anonymous said...

I have no children, and received this package as well.Got weird looks from my patents thugh. Thank you so much

Anonymous said...

I have no children and don't plan on having any, yet still received one of these packages. Needless to say, I was a bit flabbergasted.

Now why can't companies that make equestrian goods send me a bag of sample horse treats or something I'd actually find useful!

Ms.M said...

40 year old, NO kids, just got one of these boxes. I'll find somewhere to donate, but WTF.

DKB said...

This package was sent to my mother's house, addressed to me. I have not lived at that address for 15+ years, and I am not pregnant or planning to have children. This has been upsetting to my mom, who for an entire day believed that I was pregnant. Then thought that I was pregnant and lying to her. And is now devastated (again) that I have chosen not to be a mom. To me, this is a serious breach of privacy--and is adding fuel to a decade-long emotional fire. I am working with the marketing agency attached to Similac to figure out how this package landed on my mom's doorstep.