Yellow Pages Industry’s Hostile Opt-Out Behavior

A couple comments in the StarTribune’s yellow pages spam story point out that just because a phone book company provides an opt-out system doesn’t mean you’ll actually stop receiving phone books (as Future Gringo found out in Denver last week).

NOT AS EASY AS YOU THINK – I deliver phone books

I have delivered Yellowbook for the last four years as a fundraiser. We are given route sheets to follow with addresses listed on them. Our instructions from Yellowbook are that if there is an address NOT listed on the route, we ARE to deliver a book to that address anyway, then write down the address on the route sheet so that it can be added to the next printing of the routes. I can tell you, too, I have seen it myself where I will deliver a book to a residence and before I have left the property, the book is off the doorstep and in the recycling bin.
posted by wireman on Feb. 2, 09 at 10:46 AM

Sounds like an “open wide because here comes your phone book” policy. The industry is also notorious for delivering to vacant properties, which proves that they don’t care if a human evers sees the ads they sold to local businesses. Yes, yellow pages advertisers. That’s what you’re paying for. Ads delivered to people who don’t want them and to properties with no people.

Good luck getting it done

I’ve tried and tried to get myself on the list of do not deliver. I have called every year for the past 4 years, yet I still get about 6 phone books! My husband actually caught the guy as he was dropping the book off on our driveway. They guy delivering said that he ignores the list because it’s too much work. Great. What a waste.
posted by jrumley on Feb. 2, 09 at 11:54 AM

Some businesses treat their customers and consumers with respect. The yellow pages industry is the exception. Yellow Pages eater and spokesperson, Amy Healy, think the industry can self-regulate. Above are two more examples of the industry failing to do so. Talking the talk has gone on for too long.

People are thrown in jail for spamming people via email but the yellow pages industry can spam and litter with impunity in almost every city in America. What’s up with that?

12 thoughts on “Yellow Pages Industry’s Hostile Opt-Out Behavior”

  1. Actually, this is one of the few areas in which market forces will make a timely and radical correction. I predict YPs will be gone within three years with or without any legislation.

    Why? Because the tipping point has been reached. Only morons and truly ambitious tort lawyers will run anything bigger than a boldfaced listing in the next set of books, and that will be the end of phone books forever.

    The Yellow Pages companies shouldn’t be slowed by that development, but since absolutely none of them [ZERO] have come up with an online site that even for a second pretends to be consumer-friendly, there’s just no point to them anymore.

    And, if any of your readers disagree, I have a challenge for them. They get all the YP sites and I get Google. Then Ed can fire consumer questions at us and I am confident I will find useful data long before online YP users can get past the paid ads to figure out what’s actually out there.

    AT&T was a nightmare in almost every sense, but more than anything else I’m amazed by how their biggest idiots all gravitated to DEX after the breakup.

  2. I’m not willing to sit around waiting for legislation or industry changes. Fighting the “yellow demons” is a direct way of fighting for the earth. When one of those phone book delivery people drops off a phone book, time to be rude and confrontational instead of being nice. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!!

  3. Right now in the Yellow Pages industry it is a fight for every penny they can muster on the sales front. If you look at 2 of the largest YP publishers in the US, Idearc (Verizon) and RHD (Sprint and Dex), both have been down graded to penny stocks. This is why they are pushing the delivery of as many books as they can.

    Then there is Yellow Book. The saving grace for them is that they are still privately held. Their parent company in the UK (Yell Group) has been hammered on the stock market though. They have also poured a lot of money and resources into their YellowBook.com site, and even recently launched a series of interactive commercials to get people to go to their site. The funny thing is that the person that is heading it all up now is a former VP from Verizon that was in charge of SuperPages.

    The entire print model, and their pricing is based upon delivery. For the small Mom and Pop shop out there, they are forced to put ads in the Yellow Pages because of all of ROI (Return on Investment) hype that they are fed.

    So lets take a plumbing contractor. He has a half page ad in 3 directories, which costs him (depending on where he is in the country) roughly $50,000 a year. His YP ads now cost him roughly $1,000 a week. That converts, on 40 hours of work, into $25 an hour that he has to charge to cover his YP ads. So for every $75 an hour he is charging, he is giving 1/3 to the phone book companies. Even if he gets 4 more jobs a week from those ads, he is still loosing money in the end. Where is the RIO in that?

    Oh, and for the new advertisers out there. Display ad placement goes by ad size and seniority in the book. If you are a new advertiser with a little display ad, you will go last in the heading, behind the bigger ads from those companies that have been in there the longest. Statistically speaking, a person that does use the Yellow Pages, never goes past the 6th display ad in a heading. This is where the YP publishers get the advertisers by the balls. To get the calls you need a bigger ad and as a result, spend more money.

    All to feed the over 3 billion in profits from the industry.

  4. But like that YP defender on the other posting commented, without YP, what will I do if I am trapped under my couch and my cell phone is dead?

    Oh, yeah, I wouldn’t have the YP either since I don’t keep it under my couch, eh? But, I can’t blame him, since it is pretty impossible to find a reason to use them in today’s world.

  5. Quick comment from across the pond, from a delivery company working for the UK’s leading publishers- we do have industry-driven systems here to account for opt-out (and other) requests in place here with publishers, which on the whole work well. Deliverers ARE given specific address information as to where they should and should not be delivering at individual address level for all of UK directories we deliver.

    I should however point out that the vast majority of customer requests which come our way are however of the “you’ve not delivered a copy yet – please deliver” variety rather than the other way round.

  6. Wow, why is everyone so hostile about this? The reason that the yellow pages are still around, is because people use it! Customers are not stupid. If they are not making a return on investment, then they would stop putting money into the yellow pages.

    I use the yellow pages, internet yellow pages and google. It just depends what I am looking for.

    I don’t know how I came across this website, but I am suprised that so many people are concerned about this!

  7. Meredith, yellow pages are not around because people use them. They’re around because companies continue to pay for books that are becoming less and less valuable.

    Your comment is ridiculously biased. Are you willing to admit which yellow pages company you work for?

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