That’s the only conclusion I can come to after reading a summary of community efforts to legislate opt-out policies for yellow pages companies.
The Minnesota bill calls for telephone directory publishers to prominently publish a statement on their directories directing consumers who do not wish to receive a phone book, and offer a toll free number and a website that can be used to opt out. The penalty for a violation, presumably the delivery of a single book to someone who has opted out, is $500. That could which could add up quickly, though a delivery in error can be offered as a defense.The bill also calls for publishers to maintain a database of names and addresses of all those who opt out of delivery.
That sound reasonable. A person asks a company to stop sending them yellow pages they never asked for in the first place. The company then litters on their doorstep with unwanted print yellow pages spam. So the company is penalized for not holding up their end of the bargain.
However, reasonable solutions and financial interests don’t always mix. For example. Amy Healy, public policy director for the Yellow Pages Industry, is no fan of legislation that says people should have a right to easily opt-out of receiving yellow pages spam. She probably wouldn’t use the term “yellow pages spam” to refer to the print spam her industry creates, but you get the concept. Here’s what she has to say about it to The Kelsey Group:
The Yellow Pages Association’s public policy director Amy Healy told us the industry plans to continue fighting to defeat each bill rather than just trying to make them more palatable.
“We are still trying to stop all of these,” she said. “We are committed to a self-regulation approach.”
While I can understand not wanting to be put in a position of facing potential fines, there is no reason why Amy Healy should be worked up about Minnesota’s yellow pages opt-out bill. All a yellow pages company needs to do to avoid being fined is to commit to a self-regulation approach as Amy Healy describes.
The law will simply act as a catalyst for the yellow pages to actually follow through on their commitment to self-regulation. That’s something Amy Healy should applaud rather than spend time and resources fighting. That is, if her word is good on self-regulation.
Walk the walk: problem solved. Only talk the talk: cough up some cash.