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Yellow Pages Faces Another Ban

Two cities are pursuing legislation to ban or restrict distribution of the Yellow Pages, as the directory publishers themselves launch a website to help customers opt out of deliveries.

In San Francisco, Board of Supervisors president David Chu is leading the push to ban the books, which he says are wasteful and becoming obsolete. Chu has proposed prohibiting Yellow Pages distributors from leaving them on doorsteps without advance permission. Distributors could be fined up to $500 for each violation.

The law would make San Francisco the first U.S. city to ban unsolicited distribution of the Yellow Pages, the San Francisco Chronicle said.

“If we’re serious about the environment, it’s time we recognize that phone books are a 20th century tool that doesn’t meet the business or environmental needs of the 21st century,” Chu told the Chronicle.

Seattle City Council voted on Monday to keep pursuing plans to levy a 14 cent fee for every Yellow Pages book distributed, despite a federal lawsuit against the city, the Seattle Times reported.

Directory parent companies Dex One, the Yellow Pages Association and SuperMedia filed suit in November, saying the Seattle ordinance restricts their right to free speech.

The city is no longer pushing for the $148 tonnage fee it approved in October to help pay for recycling the books, the Times reported.

Also last October, the council voted to create a registry for people wanting to opt out of phone book delivery. It plans to launch the site in April.

But some distributors are trying to beat the city at that game.

The Yellow Pages Association (YPA) yesterday launched an upgraded website, www.yellowpagesoptout.com, to allow consumers to opt out of some or all Yellow Pages deliveries.

The association says the redesigned user interface makes opting out more convenient for customers by reducing the need to contact multiple publishers. The website was developed together with the Association of Directory Publishers.

“The site, supported by directory publishers across the country, illustrates our ongoing commitment to not delivering a directory to someone who doesn’t want one,” YPA president Neg Norton said.

The associations said that Yellow Pages companies have cut the amount of directory paper they use by 29 percent since 2006, and use paper that is either recycled or made from leftover woodchips from the lumber industry.  Three-quarters of U.S. adults use the print Yellow Pages every year, the associations said.

“We believe print remains a central component of our industry’s growing portfolio, which today includes digital and mobile platforms,” Norton said.

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5 thoughts on “Yellow Pages Faces Another Ban

  1. Yay. Wow. This is great. Eventually there will be an opt-IN option. In face, there probably should be an opt-IN feature NOW, instead of an opt-out. If everyone knew about this new feature (I wonder if YPA will run a publicity campaign to save themselves all that money on paper?) SO many people would opt out that it would show they should simplify things and have only an opt-in feature. I think my parents are the only ones who use phone books anymore, and perhaps people without internet at home or without internet access on their phones.

    I would like to see an opt-out feature for all the junk mail I get every week — the pounds and pounds of newspaper advertisements and coupons. The mail man doesn’t even put the stuff in the mailboxes where I live. He puts it all on a table in the hallway. No one picks it up. Someone eventually puts it in the recycle bin outside the door sight unseen.

    This waste is probably equivalent to 100 phone books per year just from my building alone. And I live in a college town where there are dozens of streets with similar buildings that probably never look at their advertisements either. Such Waste is a sin, a shame, a sham and a scam. The Post Office gets paid to deliver that waste, so we need someone like San Francisco’s Chu to do the same thing with this junk mail scam.

    Thank you Paul for running this story. It’s definitely an issue I hold close to my heart.

  2. Sorry Yellow Pages, you are a dinosaur. Move on. Your silver fish bait is no longer needed in tiny apartments and condos everywhere. Your matress sized block of paper, recycled or not, is completely unneccesary. Providing jobs to a few operators for those who need directory assistance will be paid for by cutting the production and distriubtion of these items. and the recycling later? the delivery of these books should be like needle exchange – one for one – you take one back when you deliver the new one. I have seen them discarded in regular garbage, overflowing recycling bins, or filling up garages and basements. As a business owner your advertising rates were exhorbitant and failed to deliver – except for other lazy advertisers calling because they saw we spent with you. Na na na na,hey hey hey, goood bye.

  3. Not a good idea, there’s still to many people who use the phone book and rely on it. Not everyone has a computer, internet access, smart phones. We need to wait at least a few more year before making a decision like this.

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