DESPITE complaints about unsolicited 'junk mail', only a handful of people have signed up for the opting-out service offered by the Hong Kong Direct Marketing Association. The association's chairman, Godfrey Rooke, said all the research he had seen indicated people might refer to 'junk mail', but if they were offered the opportunity to stop it, generally they would not because they were afraid they might miss something. This prospect is spelled out clearly in the association information booklet, An Offer You Can Refuse, which stated that those who registered would no longer be sent information on the following: Free gift and special purchasing opportunities. News of store openings. Advance notice of store sales and special events. Subscription opportunities for local and international newspapers and magazines, satellite and cable TV services. Opportunities for investment, insurance and financial products. Invitations to donate to charities. The opting-out service applies to mail from the association's 50 members, a diverse group of direct marketers including some of Hong Kong's biggest companies. The association's main activity over the past few years has been helping to shape Hong Kong's data protection legislation so it will not unduly hamper members' activities. The legislation is required to conform with European Community rules on transmission of data across unprotected borders. 'The direct marketing industry around the world has been one of the most active in helping to shape the legislation so it provides the right level of protection without hindering normal commercial practice,' Mr Rooke said. The legislation will require direct marketers or any company which keeps information on its customers to inform customers it has the information. Customers will have the right to prohibit the use of information, including its transferal to third parties. Association members are party to a code of ethics which ensures, among other things, that offers of goods and services are clear, that testimonials are bona fide and that the terms of any guarantee are clearly stated. The association also holds lunch and evening meetings and will soon launch an education programme.