Monday, August 11, 2008

Want to Stop Getting all those Phone Books?

stack of phone books

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]


Michele said...

I, like many people, take the bag with the phone book in it directly to the recycle bin before going in the house. What a waste.

Louise said...

As far as I can tell, there is only one sure-fire way to avoid having a phone book dropped off at your house or apartment.

Have no house or apartment.

Thanks for reminding me of one more thing to be thankful about our on-the-road lifestyle! :-)

Jeri Dansky said...

Michele, that's exactly why it would be nice to have an opt-out option!

Louise, I can't argue with your conclusion!

Anonymous said...

My name is Philip Cantwell and I started the organization Michele and everyone else that has posted here can contact me at our site at anytime and we will get back to you. We are NOT affiliated with the Yellow Page Publishers. We are a 3rd party organization that contacts the publishers on behalf of people that sign up at to stop the delivery of books. Some of the publishers accept the request and some do not. We have thousands of signs per day. has worked with organizations around the world in setting up similar sites to stop the unsolicited deliver of telephone books. We are currently working with some local governments on the proper working of ordinances to ban the unsolicited delivery of telephone books and have been contacted by a US Senator who wants to review our registry system.

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