Would you opt out of junk mail ? Anger over Royal Mail's junk mail warning By BECKY BARROW A junk mail revolt was underway last night as Royal Mail was accused of blackmailing millions of householders into receiving unwanted post on their doormat every morning. Customers driven to distraction by the daily flood through their letterbox have been flocking to an opt-out offered by the postal giant whcih promises to weed out junk mail. But they have been angered by a letter sent by Royal Mail to applicants which contains a veiled threat that if they decide they do not want to receive unwanted post they will miss out on key Government information too. The response yesterday infuriated householders, with critics accusing the offer of being an empty promise. 'Effectively it is blackmail since one cannot exclude government publications - eg local rates info etc,' said one angry customer, who contacted the Daily Mail. Harry Thompson, 75, from the Wirral, Merseyside, said: 'People are getting fed up with the junk mail. If the Royal Mail is not prepared to stop it, it might be an idea to put the stuff back in the letter boxes.' The furore follows Royal Mail's decision to suspend a postman who tried to help people who are fed up with junk mail. Roger Annies, 48, sent a letter to customers in Barry, South Wales explaining how they could opt out of receiving the mailshots by filling out a form. He has been suspended on full pay pending an inquiry into alleged misconduct. Spurred on by his example, thousands of householders tried yesterday to sign up to the postal giant's opt-out service. But as their phone hotline went into meltdown it emerged that even if they are successful in signing up, there is a substantial catch. For if you ask to opt out, you are sent a letter by Royal Mail which warns that it wants you to be 'fully aware of the implications.' It says: 'It is not possible for us to separate advertising material and information that you may want, such as leaflets from Central and Local Government and other public bodies. 'Opting out from Royal Mail door-to-door stops all unaddressed items.' Door-to-door only means junk mail that is 'unaddressed', as it is legally obliged to deliver anything that has your address or is sent to 'The Occupier'. Consumer groups insist customers must have the right to opt out, without being kept in the dark about Government information. It could include anything from vital information about changes to rubbish collection times to Home Office handouts about dealing with a terrorist threat. A spokesman for Postwatch said: 'People must not be frightened into not opting out.' Junk mail is a vital and rapidly-growing part of Royal Mail's business - and it is set to get even bigger. Last year, it delivered a record 3.3 billion items through its door-to-door service, a rise of 12.1 per cent on the previous year. At present, there is a strict limit that it cannot deliver more than three items of junk mail every week to each of the 27 million households in Britain. But this limit will go in the next few months, depending on negotiations with the Communication Workers Union. The amount of junk mail will jump although strict rules about how much each postman can carry will impose a natural limit, the firm insists. The first bag of mail every day must weigh less than 16kg and each subsequent bag must be less than 11kg. The Government-owned firm insists it is not possible to filter out some door-to-door items from others, making an opt-out into a black or white decision. When a customer opts out, the postmen is alerted who must then make sure not to include these items when sorting out their post every day. A spokesman said: 'Royal Mail delivers less than a quarter of the UK's unaddressed mail. 'If we do not deliver this mail then rivals will - and they already handle more than 75 per cent of this mail with no-opt facility. 'The revenue from unaddressed mail helps keep Royal Mail's stamp prices among the very lowest in Europe. 'We believe our customers would prefer our uniformed postemen and women to deliver this mail, rather than someone else.' To add to the confusion, many customers said yesterday that the number to opt out, 08457 950 950, was not working yesterday. After calling the number, they had to go through an automated service but were not able to speak to anybody or even leave a message. Many were greeted by the message: 'Sorry we are unable to accept messages for opt-out at this time. Now please replace the handset.' One of Royal Mail's biggest rivals, TNT Post, which does not have an opt out service, insisted yesterday that junk mail is popular in some households. Charles Neilson, managing director, said: 'Customers like some of it but not all of it. 'They want the pizza leaflets and the offer to try a new brand of Persil at a discount.' Figures from the Direct Marketing Association said junk mail is responsible for about Â£67 billion of sales every year. The industry employs more than 800,000 people because it has proved to be a very successful way of winning customers and boosting sales. The association's boss Robert Dirskovski said: 'We support the right to say no to direct marketing but we hope consumers understand the other side of the coin. 'By prohibiting such direct marketing, they may exclude themselves from hearing about a wide range of products and special offers in which they have a genuine interest.'