Monday, August 11, 2008
Are you tired of getting phone books (from multiple companies) tossed in your driveway, on your porch, or wherever?
Some of us still use the phone books at least once in a while, but other people don't use them at all. (As Consumerist words it: "I use this thing called the Internet. Maybe you've heard of it?") While phone books can be recycled, these folks would really rather just not get them at all.
Various legislators at the city and state levels have tried to get laws passed requiring opt-out registries or opt-in policies (where books would only be delivered to those who requested them). The Yellow Pages Association has lobbied strongly against such laws, and so far none have been passed. Update on April 4, 2013: The Yellow Pages Association is now the Local Search Association.
Is there anything you (as a resident of the U.S.) can do to stop getting the books? There are a few things you can try.
1. Call the companies publishing the books you don't want and ask to be removed from their distribution lists.
The phone numbers for the most common publishers are:
Dex Media/R.H. Donnelley Delivery Support Center
Yellowbook Distribution Department
800-929-3556 (press 2)
Verizon/Idearc Media Directory Distribution Call Center
800-555-4833 (press 4, then 5)
AT&T Real Yellow Pages
2. Sign up at YellowPagesGoesGreen and they say they will contact the publishers on your behalf.
3. Sign the Paperless Petition, although it doesn't seem like this will do anything in the short term.
However, people who have worked for the companies that distribute the phone books are skeptical that opting out will really accomplish anything.
Over on The Good Human, Eric wrote: "My (retired) parents used to help a company deliver phone books for a little extra cash. They were given lists of streets they were required to deliver phone books to. There was no opt-out list and management would do spot checks to ensure that they hit every house. I hate to tell you this but you can forget about not receiving a phone book."
There are similar comments over on the The Old New Thing, but they date back to 2003 and 2004, so things might have changed.
Apparently, in some other countries you do get control of whether or not you want a phone book. Again, quoting The Old New Thing:
"In Austria, everyone gets a little postcard which you just return without postage if you don't want a new phonebook."
"In Germany they send you a postcard and you go with it to the nearest post office to pick up the book. So if you want one it is more inconvenient as you have to make the trip; if you don't, no harm done."
[photo from merfam / Jason Meredith]