Chris Silver Smith wrote a post on saving the yellow pages over at Search Engine Land last week. He outlined 10 points that could help the yellow pages industry. Though I have tremendous respect for Chris Silver Smith I disagreed with almost each point he made. This post is about his first point:

1. Come up with some way to stop distributing books to people who no longer use them. There’s no way to explain to people why they should be getting these if they don’t use the books, and it irritates the environmentally-conscious even if the books are printed on recycled paper like you’ve been telling everyone.

This one I disagreed with because the ability to opt out of phone book delivery has been around for over a year now and the cynic in me believes that most people care about the environment only when it is convenient for them so nobody took the time to do it.

Then I did a search on the internet and couldn’t find the number to call and no one commented on his blog post like… Hey Chris, diid you know that you could do that for over a year now! So I was forced to consider the possibility that no one knows about this or how easy it is to do.

So, let’s find out. Here are the numbers to opt out of Yellow Page delivery for each major publisher. Is Chris right? Will the environmentally-conscious take the time to call? Or was the cynic in me right all along?

Idearc 1 800 888 8448 Option 2 (Opt Out Of Verizon Yellow Pages)
At&t 1 800 922 0008 Option 3 (Opt Out Of the Real Pages)
Dex 1 877 243 8339 (This will also work for Embarq)
Yellow Book 1 800 888-8448 Option 2

The funny part about this is how cleverly the phone companies disguised these numbers. Each one is published in their own directory as the number to call to order a phone book. I swear you can’t make this stuff up.

I would also like to assert that just because I disagree with what he wrote on that one post in no way diminishes how much respect I have for Chris Silver Smith as a leader in the local search industry. A lot of what I know about local search I learned reading his blog.

In future posts I will discuss the other 9 points.

 

11 Responses to How To Opt Out Of Telephone Book Delivery

  1. kenc says:

    85% of people still use the books, so why would they want to opt-out??

  2. Ken, I think the idea is that there is % of people who don’t use the book anymore and for environmental reasons they would like the option to opt out.

  3. I don’t mind the dissent at all, but it sounds like you didn’t actually disagree with this particular recommendation. Rather, you’re disagreeing with my implying that YP companies haven’t come up with a way to halt distribution to people who no longer want directory books.

    You’re right, of course, some of the top YP companies have come up with opt-out as you described. A few, like my old company, Idearc, have also accomplished #2 – “Make it clear on your phonebook covers how you’re making up for the environmental impact of the books, if you must continue to blanket-distribute.”

    But you do describe one element of the problem — to me, if it’s not abundantly clear/easy as to how to opt-out, it’s tantamount to not providing the opt-out option at all. If you’ve followed the news on this, the overall YP industry has fought the requirement of opt-out by tooth-and-nail over the last year, blocking it in numerous local governments where they could.

    They don’t feel very motivated to make opt-out easy. And, the myriad secondary directory companies don’t appear to provide opt out service at all. I think if you poll, you’ll find that the majority of print yp outfits don’t provide opt-out, while the bigger companies are. The end result on most consumers remains the same: they’ll be getting unwanted books dropped on their doorsteps and be forced to deal with it themselves.

    I look forward to more feedback from you on the subject! Also, how about some additional or alternative ideas on things YP companies could do to improve their bottom line right now?

    kenc – it’s still not entirely clear that 85% of people truly use the print books, still. That’s based upon a YP industry statistic that’s derived from polling a relatively small percentage of the U.S. population, and I demonstrated last year that this sample was definitely *not* representative of the overall population, since it neglected to include responses from cell-only households (estimated to be nearing 20% of population now).

    Even of those who use the books, I assert that a significant percentage of those only desire to receive one business directory for their area, not the 5 to 10 books that people can receive within major metro areas. So, even people who use print books have a valid reason to want to opt-out of some of the books in their areas!

  4. I have been very fortunate lately as the quality of comments on my blog are exceeding the posts.

    And here is a link to that post on yp usage alluded to earlier. Well worth a read for anyone who hasn’t seen it Yp Usage Stats May Be Inaccurate

    Chris, for each of the points I disagreed with you in sort of an ironic way.

    For instance, is it in their nature to get savvy about internet or mobile.

    I too worked at Idearc for a long time… just think of how long ago they had superpages on the go. They had such a lead… they could’ve owned mobile but they decided to charge $2/month for the service so nobody got it. This is at the absolute bottom of the savvy scale. Oh! the permission they’ve wasted.

    And don’t even get me started on video…

    And with the whole opt out thing, it was easy for me because I knew to do the opposite of what any sane human would do to get the phone numbers. So, it ended up being ironic also.

    Ultimately though Chris, in order for the Yellow Pages to survive, I think they are going to need to build a better mouse trap but I am rooting hard for them.

    Thank you for stopping by

  5. [...] they hid the number so well. By disguising it as the number to call to get MORE directories. read more | digg [...]

  6. Joel says:

    Correction to Yellowbook opt out as Verizon number was repeated. Yellowbook opt out is 1-800-929-3556 (option 2)

  7. Sabastian says:

    85% of people still use the books, – where do you get this fact?

  8. Karma says:

    I hate finding these books littering up my driveway and property. I’ve opted out but they still manage to throw these books in my yard. I travel and when I come home and see this, it really frustrates me because its a red flag to the neighborhood that I’m not home! All burgulars know this is the perfect time to burgurize me which has actually happened. I put up a no tresspassing sign and a sign saying do not leave them here which have been ignored. My local police said I could file a complaint for tresspassing.

  9. Laura says:

    I opted out but like Karma, I still get them. They don’t incentivize the delivery people to actually care about who is on the opt out list and I’m guessing they have no idea. So unless you catch them, you have no way of stopping it. Trust me, I’ve tried.

  10. Laura says:

    P.S. I just called again& they claim they had no idea. They also asked if I meant this request to be permanent.

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