Yellowbook Yellow Pages Shows Opt-Out Incompetence

A year ago, I unsubscribed from print delivery of Yellowbook’s yellow pages directory. I haven’t used it for years, and decided it was time to cut off the distribution of this piece of marketing waste.

A quick phone call removed me from the list. Or so I thought. In reality, Yellowbook spammed my house with yet another yellow pages directory after I specifically asked to be removed (which they politely acknowledged last year).

I decided to return my piece of spam to Yellowbook’s local office at 1210 Northland Drive in Mendota Heights, MN. On the way there, I noticed that some of my neighbors hadn’t bothered to remove the spam from their steps yet, so I swept up what I saw along 45th Ave S. Later in the day, I did the same on 42nd Ave S and made a second trip to Yellowbook’s offices with the bonus stash of print spam.

In total, I found 102 books that hadn’t been picked up days after being delivered to the neighborhood. Those books were found in 22 blocks worth of streets. It looks like there are around 28 homes per block, so ~616 homes. So on those blocks, 16% of the Yellowbook books ended up back in Mendota Heights. The other 84% were either brought directly to the recycling bin, thrown in the trash, actually put to use, or maybe Yellowbook honored their opt-out list in some cases? Either way, the chances of finding a home that depends on Yellowbook’s printed yellow pages directories for local business information is probably pretty slim. Keep in mind that Yellowbook is one of three print yellow pages companies that carpet bomb Minneapolis every year (Qwest Dex & Verizon Superpages being the other two).

Local advertiser: Let this sink in a bit. Do you realize that you’re paying for the printing, delivery, and disposal (through tax dollars) of Yellowbook print directories delivered to those who’ve specifically requested to no longer receive them?

Yellow pages companies claim that they’re capable of treating local advertisers and consumers with respect by creating and honoring do-not-distribute lists. This is just one more example illustrating how incompetent they really are.

145 thoughts on “Yellowbook Yellow Pages Shows Opt-Out Incompetence”

  1. Ed – I was home when the yellow book was about to be delivered. I told the delivery guy that we were registered to not receive yellow pages. He offered that he wasn’t made aware of anyone who opted out of yellow pages delivery, and was glad that I was there to let him know. This is a source of frustration for him because he has to return and retrieve the books when people call and asked that they be picked up. Bottom line – it appears as though yellow book is doing nothing with the opt out list, at least not in my case.

  2. It’s nice to know I’m not alone in my disdain for the ‘litter’ left on my front step. Can they really demonstrate ROI to their advertisers?

  3. Interesting move, Ed. I enjoyed the video. I think you and I would get along well. This is the sort of stunt I can really get into. However, I still just don’t understand why this is such an important issue for you. I know it’s not the inconvenience factor – driving all those books back took WAY more time and effort than 30 years of just dropping unwanted books in the recycle bin with the rest of your junk mail.

    I got a phone book dropped on my doorstep yesterday. It will probably just sit there for another week before I bother to toss it in the recycle bin. You can have it if you’d like more ammo. 3300 block of 15th Ave S.

  4. Ed –

    I understand and appreciate your frustration. This might sound weird coming from someone who works at Idearc Media, a company whose legacy is as the official publisher of the Verizon print directories.

    I could try to explain how/why a company messes up and delivers to a house or business that opts-out (or to a house or business that is obviously empty). I’m not going to do so. Bottom line is it shouldn’t be happening.

    I can’t speak for others, but seeing your videos and blogs – while funny in some regards – doesn’t help my business at all (and I am the first to admit either does getting the delivery wrong).

    Couple of things I’d like to point out to you and your readers. First off, there are several sites floating around to opt-out on. The one site that will provide you and your readers with the right information is – – On this site, you can include your zip code and all the publisher’s that deliver in your area will appear with their opt-out information. Before you say it, I know this site doesn’t mean anything if the companies can’t/won’t honor your request. Specifically to opt out for us, 1-800-888-8448, option two.

    I can honestly tell you we are trying to get it right. We understand a yellow pages ad doesn’t work if it isn’t used (I draw a comparison to the Seinfeld episode where Jerry says, when trying to rent a car, something like “anyone can take a reservation, keeping a reservation is something else”).

    We also understand that SOME do see a value to the print yellow pages. We know this because of call tracking numbers we put into the ads that show our clients how many calls they are receiving.

    Fact is (I won’t bother with the studies that show this), people do see a value. Problem is, as technology and the sophistication of consumers increased, the industry was defending the validity of the product (and delivering multiple products with pretty much the same info) instead of differentiating it.

    I understand my opinion is skewed, but I do believe one yellow pages that offers something special is a great resource to have. Again, unfortunately, folks like yourself get inundated with directories that have almost the identical information.

    Now I know this is going to sond like a sales pitch, and it is. We pride ourselves on not being your father’s yellow pages. We’ve introduced something new and different for consumers that is available online on our resource and in print in the yellow pages. Our free SuperGuarantee program is designed to put your mind at ease – – when you hire a contractor, auto mechanic, painter, plumber or other of our service provider clients, we will stand by their work. If something goes wrong, we will step in and try to make it right or, if we can’t, we will give you up to $500.

    Now I understand you may be thinking since the program is available online, I still don’t need our yellow pages. Fair enough, but I do think you would agree our yellow pages would be a great resource to have if you needed a plumber, a mover, etc. One yellow pages that provides you with something special.

    In this blog and in others you’ve mentioned advertisers are basically throwing $$ away by advertising. Thanks for that. πŸ™‚ Wanted to quickly share with you something we are offering our clients as a way of providing additional value to them. Our SuperTradeExchange ( provides businesses with a network of other businesses to barter with – – a great opportunity during a recession.

    Ed, as an industry we need to get the delivery right. As a company, we are trying to be more transparant. We are also trying to become a company that offers a great product and service to consumers and local businesses.

    Thank you for the opportunity to respond.

    Andrew Shane

  5. Glad you mentioned SuperPages. Not only do I continue to get phone books delivered to my doorstep after opting out, but SuperPages calls my business phone 3-5 times a week to sell me advertising. Not so super.

  6. Ed: I really could have used those yellow plastic bags for my three dogs. Would you consider retrieving them for me? Thanks so much for that…

  7. Hey Graham ,

    I can only assume that you ( are being facetious – right? If not, what is the rationale behind your defense of YellowBook in this instance? Does the Bureau of Public Affairs have some sort of horse in this race?

  8. Thanks Aaron – I thought so but wasn’t sure given his snarky response to Ed on Ed’s Twitter account:

    “hammerikaner: @edkohler monetizes his blog with local ads. And he wants local ad institution YellowBook put out of business. Coincidence?”

    May need to fine-tune my sarcas-o-meter πŸ™‚

  9. Ed,

    Did it ever cross your mind that maybe the people living in the houses where “you’ unilaterally decided to pick up the new books might actually want a print YP? I am not going to defend the “do not deliver” processes of Yellowbook – they can do it themselves. But really man, what makes you so sure those people don’t want their books. You even said, they had just been delivered a few days ago. Now what are they going to do when they want to find an alarm company to prevent their other belongings from being lifted.

  10. I dislike these books and the ignoring of opt-out just as much as the next person, but not as much to trespass onto other homeowner’s property and steal their belongings. I’m not so sure it’s up to you to assume what the homeowner does or doesn’t want, or of their current situation or why it’s still on their steps. I’m sure a good number don’t really appreciate you making that decision for them. Maybe some just returned home for a business trip and have to go through the trouble of re-ordering. If you had asked them if you could take and return it, then that’s fine. But technically, what you did was theft….not even vigilante-ism. I realize it makes a bigger statement and a better video to have been able to pile up lots of books instead of just yours like last time, and maybe you’re willing to drag other innocent and unwilling homeowners into your crusade, but then this starts to reek less of idealism and community activism and more of egocentrism.

  11. Jim, thanks for sharing your story about dealing with a delivery person. It’s pretty pathetic how poorly YP contractors are treated.

  12. @Reuben, I think it’s fun to try to scale solutions. It seems ridiculous to me that every household in Minneapolis has to go through the routine of disposing of spam 3X a year. So, like email spam, I think it’s worth creating systems that make up for the shortcomings of businesses with no social skills.

  13. @Andrew, thanks for the comment. I agree that yellowpages can be an effective marketing tool for many businesses. However, I think we can both agree that the ROI is negative on books that are never opened for a wide variety of reasons.

    I’d love to see Idearc pit some money where there mouth is on the consumer side of the equation. How about extending the SuperGuarantee program to you opt-out list by offering a $500 gift to anyone on your opt-out list who receives a Superpages?

  14. @Neal & LM, I think you’ve done a fine job making the case for an opt-in system. Neal, wouldn’t people rather not have books sitting outside their homes, making them breL-in targets? MJ, as you explain, getting as many Yellowbooks as you’d like is as simple as making one phone call.

    Did you know that you email provider regularly deletes spam before it ever reaches your inbox? Is that a form of tresspassing? Are your rights bring violated by gmail by not allowing you access to commercial messages you never asked to receive in the first place?

  15. Trust me — I absolutely agree that opt-in should be the default by law. However, whether or not your readers or I think it’s ok for you to have taken it upon yourself to be a filter is irrelevant. That’s purely a legal issue — it makes no sense to debate with us what things should be after you’ve already taken action outside the accepted legal processes (that debate would have to be with law enforcement and judges — not us). That’s why we have legislators and a government, so every Tom, Dick and Harry doesn’t just make things up as they go based on how they feel that day, or that any elite-minded personality doesn’t make decisions for and push them down the throats of unwilling neighbors. Either way, comparing yourself to a benevolent ISP is an invalid analogy (unless this was staged and you knew those whose books you took), you otherwise never had your “clients” sign off on any “service agreement” prior to your actions. You’ve theoretically never even had contact with your “clients”. Think about your actions on a larger scale, say, if more people believe your process is acceptable; I’d rather not have an army of strangers roaming into my yard and house and taking things, that, in their personal opinion, I don’t need. Who knows — maybe you’d then have anti-environmentalists showing up and taking the city’s recycling containers that you never asked for.

  16. All fair points, MJ. But theory and reality seem to ash on this one. Here’s something to slippery slope:

    I think my chances of running into legal trouble for removing unsolicited phone books from doorsteps days after they’ve been delivered about as likely as being arrested for shoveling a neighbor’s walk days after a storm.

  17. Ed –

    Thank you for posting my comments (some bloggers will block responses they may disagree with) and responding in kind. Judging from the other comments, it is evident you will post and respond (when appropriate) to all relevant comments. I appreciate that.

    I hope you appreciate I’ve tried to be upfront with my comments. I absolutely agree with you that an unopened yellow pages does nobody any good. That is why I shared with you and your readers our opt-out # and the url that will provide opt out info for all publishers.

    I’d like to clarify something. Idearc (my company) publishes the Verizon Yellow Pages and produces As I mentioned in my comments, I think we could both agree that part of your unhappiness surrounds:

    – the way the books have been delivered
    – delivered to vacant/abandon buildings
    – receiving multiple books with the same information
    – receiving books when you have opted out

    Again, I can’t speak for other companies, but I can tell you that we:

    – are making concerted efforts to speak w/ our vendors on the proper ways to deliver
    – invested $$ on technology for our vendors to assist in the deliver to the appropriate houses and honoring opt out; again, we absolutely understand an unopened book does nobody any good

    We’ve also introduced programs to differentiate ourselves to local businesses and consumers who are interested in our products (print and online). While we are not going to do what you suggest, we are holding our vendors and our employees to task related to opting out and the delivery of the books. We are also providing a value to consumers.

    Andrew Shane

    At the risk of sounding too salesy (I was accused on Twitter that I didn’t “get it” and was just trying to sell)

  18. Andrew, thanks for the follow-up. I really hope your policies and programs pay off in practice. Dex managed to honor some opt-out requests locally earlier this summer. Will Idearc be able to do the same or better? Time will tell.

  19. True, the likelihood of legal trouble might be low; but the public shouldn’t be committing crimes based on likelihood of charges. But more to your point — that you were performing what was, in your mind, a public service, equating it to shoveling snow. That’s really the whole problem with this incident; you’re assuming your opinion is equally shared by your neighbor, and not even giving them the chance to say otherwise or explain why they didn’t bring it inside yet (shut-ins? sick? away?). When you start believing that your opinion is the only correct one, must be common sense, everyone else must obviously agree, and there is no alternate acceptable explanation, and thus make decisions and take actions on their behalf without their voice in the matter, you get accused of elitism, arrogance and detachment. People have been known to be upset with elected politicians for less.
    I think it’d be easier (and ultimately more successful) to make your case and acheive your campaign goals (which I support) by making it less about your own stunts with unwilling participants, and rather by a mass of willing volunteers through the appropriate process. You may actually hurt your credibility and cause with overbearing, crude antics; the IdeaRC defenders can now trivialize you as an adolescent prankster rather than respected and influential equal.

  20. LM, your latest post read like Charlie Brown’s teacher was talking to me. That may make me elitist, arrogant, or detached, or someone who’s talking about a specific situation while you keep throwing slippery slope arguments at me. It sounds like you have a better grasp on what my goals are and whether my tactics are effective in achieving those goals than I do. BTW, the topic of this post is Yellowbook and now Idearc, although Idearc has received some play in the comments thanks to Andrew.

    Sarah, I did grab yours. Are you offended by that? Now that you know this, have you lost all respect for me? Do LM’s theories hold up in the real world?

  21. From above: “I’m sure a good number don’t really appreciate you making that decision for them” — I intentially wrote that because there were, I’m sure, another good number thrilled that you saved them some work and helped the environment. But are you really ok with having inconvenienced, angered or scared those that weren’t thrilled?

    If the only places you went were acquaintances and abandoned homes, then I have no problem with your methods. Speaking of abandoned homes — if you were truly enacting a public service of de-littering, why didn’t you pick up the papers, too? That certainly may have happened off camera…

    Sorry for using Idearc — suppose Yellowbook is more appropriate, but in general, it’s meant to be the organizations and individuals in the industry with which you’ve been debating.

    You might want to have mentioned that some (several? most? all? do tell…) of those you had picked up were those of friends and acquaintances and not just random strangers — takes some of the invasive feel out of the exploits, unless that’s what you’re going for, and the goals are strictly towards publicity….

    It certainly is a bit annoying to have someone else presume your goals, desires, opinions and intentions. Like the handful of homeowners who would rather have their books today. Perhaps acting for and angering a few innocents is worth the bigger cause.

  22. My experience is similar every year. This week was like this:
    After 5 days of staring at a pile of books stacked haphazardly on the front step, (some in beautiful bright yellow baggies and some shrink wrapped to increase the resource burden, trash level, and increase recycling effort,) I carried 12 books around the building directly to the recycling bin. (In my case, I am responsible for aspects of the building’s maintenance.) Having not counted them when they were delivered, if the correct number were delivered, at best one person wanted one. At best. More likely they felt compelled to take it upon themselves to recycle the one intended for them. Or they just picked one up out of habit never to be used. Or possibly only 12 were delivered. Despite small sample size I would suggest that this may have indications that the vast majority of the demographic of my building, 20 & 30 somethings from a good cross-section of social classes, AKA the present and future population of this country, don’t want one.
    At any rate Mr. Yellowbook, congratulations on your distribution statistics and thank you.

    Cheers to Ed for championing the fight against this ridiculous, antiquated, wasteful, toxic, irresponsible, nuisance .

    Aside: most apartment dwelling folk don’t opt-out since by the time they get some crap delivered which reminds them they don’t want it, then get around to tracking down all of the opt-out forums, it’s time they move on.

  23. I will add however that while clearly Ed is passionate on this subject, obviously his approach is controversial. Next time I would suggest a more effective approach at activism would be to knock on folks doors, discuss their position and inform them of opt-out methods before collecting their books. Also his method of delivery leaves something to be desired. πŸ™‚

    Finally I’ll speculate on the problem of opt-out addresses based on my limited experience with delivery work years ago.
    Imagine you’re living on the margins and get an extra job with your limited spare time to deliver phone books in your own car for OK money and no benefits where you’re paid by the route, not time. How much effort are you going to put in to avoid certain random special “land-mine” addresses to not deliver to? It’s probably actually easier to come back and pick them up if someone actually follows through and complains than to figure them all out. Also the route is a one-time deal, not like for example you could remember which houses on a paper route got Saturday-Sunday only, and which get it all week. More likely they are in a completely unfamiliar neighborhood not even sure which street they are on. Not that this is an excuse, but it is a difficult problem. Imagine what advertising sales would be required to cover increased delivery cost to fewer recipients.

    The directory advertising sales is a wicked lever. I come to you and say ‘we’re printing a directory, do you want to advertise in it?’ Do you want to risk not having your business listed in this directory on the chance that your customers decide to use this directory instead of another? People only need one directory, but having 3 in town necessitates businesses advertise in them all. So it’s not really directory competition / a spreading thin of advertising revenue, it’s collecting multiple times to support them all.

  24. I usually never post these as I actually work and have a life. But this video and rant is too much to not respond. Are you “f____ing kidding me. This is what you do in MN to occupy yourself. Ge a freaking life man- what a loser. Going to other peoples houses and walking on their property and removing phone books… wow! This from the same people that voted Jessie Ventura into office and now the real “sane” Al Frankin. What a loser! It nice you have passion for something, but maybe our country would be better off if you took your passion and placed it towards your carreer or to help our service men and women instead of entering peoples private property and pull phone books. It is a shame this is what our country is coming to. If you do not want the book then just pick it up and throw it out and move on to something that will actually help our society. (like maybe you staying inside on your computer) It is a shame that our old way of life where kids would come home from school and go out and play in the yards has now turned into kids coming home and playing video games and hiding in doors. (My guess is this was you)
    Sorry for the tone but after seeing his nasty actions it got me to think that he does not desrve to be addressed in a civil manner. Get a life man!!! Do some good for the poor, the hungry, the service men, and for gods sake stay off of other peoples property. I would like to video the police coming to arrest you for trespassing and thefy and post that you idiot.

  25. Man! Are you serious? With everything that is going on in the world today, this is your concern??? You have too much time on your hands my friend.

  26. Awesome job, Ed — but why didn’t you pick up the one on my porch (which will be there for at least three more weeks)? Just a huge amount of unnecessary waste. Shoot me an email for the next round; I’ll help out.

  27. You did? Awesome! Thanks! Although I do have another bag inside the porch that I haven’t gotten around to recycling yet.

    And MKEL, relax man, maybe you should use a little of that angst on something good yourself! Ed is far and above the best hummanitarian I know.

  28. I don’t think you necessarily need an opt in system. The problem with the current opt out system is that there are no consequences for the YP providers for failing to honor their own lists. What about a statutory requirement that if you erroneously receive YP’s after properly opting out (i) they have to come and pick them up, and (ii) give you $25 for the trouble.

    After the first few thousand claims, I’m betting they would find a way to keep from delivering to the opt outs.

  29. I have been dreaming about this for years. Think of all the paper wasted by people like me who simply put every single phone book into a paper bag to be recycled without even looking at it.

    Maybe phone books could be similar to a catalog subscription. If you want it contact the company. If you don’t then you would unsubscribe.

  30. I agree with Mikel, Ed is a dumb f er. Get a girlfriend, its obvious your single and have lots of time on your hands.

  31. I saw mine on the front step when I got home yesterday and thought of you right away! I walked it right around back to the recycling, so as usual, it will not even make it into my house (might go retrieve that yellow bag for the dog droppings…). I knew I’d be reading a phone book post from you soon. Thanks for being diligent on this, and for entertaining me. I know for you it is really maddening, and that kind of makes it better for me. You be mad, I’ll just cheerfully dump mine and get mad about some other thing. Like slow drivers in the fast lane or something πŸ™‚

  32. Great Video. I particularly enjoyed the phone book toss.

    That could be an annual event with the longest toss winning a prize or something. Maybe a charitable event for a greener environment.

    Just had our annual advertise in the yellow pages visit. Pushing their mobile App for BlackBerry and their internet presence. Tried the App it failed to find my business when i typed in the name and the city. Pure Junk.
    Online the search experience is based solely on ads that are purchased versus relevancy and content.

  33. Awesome post/video Ed! The comments are great. It is amazing how many people do not know when to use “your” vs. “you’re”. Now hurry up and start helping society by supporting service men instead of the environment.

  34. Just wanted to clarify that I was indeed joking as Aaron pointed out and, yes, also joking about Ed’s “ulterior” local advertising motive. Ed’s model is actually very much welcome as a local advertising platform that provides actual use and content. Yes, yellowbook does serve it’s function as well but the way in which it annoys those who do not welcome its largesse on their doorsteps and its effect on increasing neighborhood blight are my concerns.

    Also: these comments are mine alone and have absolutely not been approved or sanctioned by my employer and do not in any way represent the views of the United States foreign policy establishment. πŸ™‚

  35. EK,

    When i think of you “stealing” other peoples phone books, i hear Col. Kurtz in my head. “Oh the horror…the horror.”
    If they come after you for being thefy, I promise to hide you and your yours until the smoke clears.

  36. The crew at the Seattle weekly “The Stranger” did this a few years back too. Even if no one sees your delivery at a bland “Office Space” looking building – the photos and videos make a large and relevant impact.

    Thanks for keeping it up. I continue to document every dump that’s left at my door throughout the year, by various competing companies. People in cities large and small need to be taking photos, videos, and documenting the ENORMITY of this garbage.

    It’s just like removing “street spam” signs (which I hate.) The more people that do it, the larger an impact it makes…


  37. If you do get arrested you will bring more attention to your cause. You’ll be an “anti yellowbook” martyr. ha
    Some of these comments are hilarious to read. Good stuff.

  38. so if I go around and drop a bag of poo on everyone’s door step, would Ed be “stealing” if he went around rounded up all of the shit?

    how is it theft if you never actually requested or paid for something?

    i agree w/ others who said his approach was a bit controversial, but realize there was a humor factor involved in his video (ie: get a sense of humor, Ed doesn’t need to get a life) too.

  39. Don’t you have anything better do? I guess not since you live in MN. I usually don’t comment on blogs but you sir are just plain ignorant, not to mention inconsiderate. First of all, the major yellow page companies all have multi-million $$$ recycling and environmental initiatives that help to offset paper consumption and environmental impact. For example, the yellowpages is now printed on a fraction of the paper it used to be.

    Secondly, are you so selfish that you don’t think about the hundreds of thousands of people who are employed by the yellow pages? These people have to make a living and feed their families. In this economy that is no easy task. All you are doing is basically telling their customers to think about what a big waste the yellowpages are, which does nothing but show your ignorance – the yellowpages have some some of the highest Return on Investment in all of advertising. But it sounds like your biggest worry is opting out of the delivery. Ignorance is bliss!

  40. Josh, nobody should be implored to or obligated to tolerate a wasteful or antiquated topic simply to keep the staff employed. If sympathy drove business them Memorex cassette tapes and GM/Hummer would be enjoying record numbers. Actually I have no idea where Memorex is, but I haven’t bought a cassette tape in years, and save for the rare CD-RW I haven’t purchased physical media in years.

    Also – I work in an industry adapting to change – and internet/on demand/satellite has taken a fair share of our customers away. The “long tail” trend has hurt many industries, but innovate people and companies will adapt. Few see the yellow pages companies as being on of those.

    I suspect YP

  41. sorry that got sent too quick.

    I have not idea whether “Al’s Garage” get’s a decent ROI, but Ed here has examined the numbers of various YP companies and the numbers aren’t pretty.

    The economy, or saving jobs, should not be an excuse for using an ancient product. And it certainly shouldn’t be an excuse for tolerating wasteful distribution and marketing practices.

  42. Ed-
    For all the people who believe that you’re doing a disservice, maybe you just need to take it to the next level.

    Next time perhaps you just need to get your Michael Moore on and take a little extra time to video yourself knocking on doors and asking people if they wouldn’t mind if you remove the book from their front porch. Hm…I wonder what the overwhelming response would be.

    And/Or…organize a (new word) Littermob. Start a “Unlitter your Neighborhood” or “Give your Litterbook back” campaign. Set a time and a place where everyone can drop them off in a big pile or deposit them into a drive-by recycling bin. Or, sure, have everyone meet you at the headquarters. Turn it into a party. Let the local news know. See what happens. “Littermobbing” could be huge!

    When you’re done with this project, may I suggest moving on to either:
    a) The ultra annoying front door hanger litter industry.
    Or, b) the put litter on the windows of cars people.

  43. well, this is the paradox. When someone writes a blog on the internet, their audience is people who are actively using the internet. If that person asks “How many of you use print directories?” the answer will be little to none. Duh.

    But how can a blogger, who can not replicate this question in a non-internet medium (the newspaper for example), find out how many people really do use the directories?

    If you want to write another article, why not call 100 people at random and ask them “if your pipe burst right now, who will you call and how will you get the number?”.

    Ironically, the easiest way to do this experiment, by obtaining a long list of residential phone numbers sorted by city, is to grab the white pages portion of your directory, if yellowbook hasn’t already deleted it from your books there.

    I am just saying I have seen a hundred of those “no one on the internet uses print” articles but this would be an article I haven’t seen and you might be the person to do it.

  44. Doug, among the groups that I’m pretty darn sure don’t use phone books yet continue to receive them from companies like Yellowbook include:

    Foreclosed homes
    Closed businesses
    Unoccupied apartment units
    Those who’ve attempted to unsubscribe
    Those who let the books rot on their front steps
    Those who bring the books directly to their recycling without ever bringing them into their homes.
    Those who use the books as booster seats for their children.
    Those who use them as step stools for their children.

    I was thinking about your “pipe burst” scenario the other day and recorded my thoughts on that topic. I’ll publish them in another post just for you.

  45. @Jeff — you’re using your personal opinion about phone books to place equivalent value. It’s not yours or Ed’s call to presume to know what value random strangers place on items on their property and thus, in their possession. You and I place the same value. But I’m not going to speak for my neighbor. Say they placed more value — maybe it’s a bag of money that gets delivered the same time, unsolicited, every year — I’m sure if it disappeared from your front stoop you’d be calling the cops. This part of it is a legal argument — not philosophical. I’m sure we could both benefit from some review of state property law. Let’s not assume we’re omniscient and believe we know better than the homeowner.

    @Christian and @Brian — well said! This is just a small tweak away from being a true, honest public service — simply knocking on the homeowner’s doors — at least trying to reach out and make contact with those who are being pulled in to the protest — would have removed the uneasiness and most of the controversy of this protest. I wouldn’t have even needed to see it on video, and I’d be thrilled if it were 100%. I fully expect it would be a high percentage. But at least the homeowner had a choice, and at the very least, notified. @Ed — any reason why you didn’t knock on their doors? Any chance you could do a follow up visit and talk to the people (and perhaps give the pipe-burst survey) whose books you did grab (the strangers, not the acquaintances)? This would help restore some credibility and dispel controversy, and show that the cause isn’t about you and stunts, and that it’s bigger than you expressing your personal opinion. And then we can go back to the humor.

    I’m sure the edginess makes for more hits, though…but I’m not cynical enough to believe the controversy was intentional for PR purposes or Google ad revenue…

  46. @LM. Time.

    While the Yellowbook employees dropping comments semi-anonymously on this thread (fake names but they’re posting from IP addresses) seem to believe I have nothing but time on my hands, I have a few things going on these days.

    I believe I now have a good idea what it would take to increase my credibility with you on this particular topic. I can assure you that I don’t do stuff like this for the money. Sure, I make some money off the traffic to this site, but that’s just a nice side effect. I’ve found that people would wouldn’t help a little old lady grab a bottle of Metamucil off the top shelf in the grocery store have a hard time understanding that there are people in this world who will do things without a direct financial reward. To be clear, I’m not suggesting that you’re one of those people.

    The last thing I’d want to do is dispel controversy. What fun is that?

  47. Unfortunately, intentionally seeking out controversy makes it about attention, and without the community engagement, makes it about your attention. I really wouldn’t think that people like you, who are otherwise so helpful to the elderly in grocery stores, would rather these stunts be only about them. And given the amount of time you spend on your personal blog, I have a hard time believing you couldn’t carve out a little more time to follow through with this public service. All you need to add some power behind this action is to follow up with those strangers for whom you performed your public service. And I’m not saying we need a video production of it.

  48. I find it really strange that people question why Ed “cares so much” about such an “insignificant issue.”

    What issue related to your neighborhood isn’t insignificant in the grand scheme of things?

    Yes, there’s a black hole in the center of the galaxy that will eventually eat us all. Yes, mankind will surely die out due to war, pestilence, famine, or some other kind of death-dealing blow. Yes, we will each individually someday give up the ghost and face nonexistence, eternal bliss, eternal damnation, or something inconceivable to us mere mortals. True dat. All dat.

    But in the face of its ultimate and complete insignificance in the face of eventual galactic destruction, Ed’s interest in fighting YellowBook spam is perfectly justifiable. He enjoys pursuing it as a hobbyhorse. Ed’s video dramatizes an issue of waste and a common modern (or post-modern?) nuisance.

    Ed enjoys making YouTube videos. Ed enjoys sticking it to the man. Ed enjoys trying to make a connection with other people who might feel similarly about the scourge of Yellow Pages stoop spam.

    Ultimately, will Ed’s davidic “crusade” bring about the destruction of the YellowBook Goliath? It’s highly unlikely.

    But I really, really, really, enjoy the result of one man’s decision to not let a lazy afternoon that might otherwise be wasted, oh, say, watching television or commenting on someone’s blog and instead give a out-of-touch company a taste of their own medicine.

    Keep it up, Ed. I’ll be watching.

  49. To all the haters,

    It’s time to recognize that agree or disagree with Ed, he has an audience. A group of people who would prefer not to receive phone books. That’s the point of opt-out.

    Your arguments about the value you see in this “service” testify that some people want these publications. That’s great. Don’t opt-out.

    Until then, you should recognize that every keystroke you hit only increases the traffic to this thread, exposing more people to the paperless Book of Kohler (hallowed be his name)

  50. Geeze, Ed, what’s the matter with you? Don’t you realize that you could have spent all that time playing video games or drinking yourself into a late Sunday stupor? Priorities!

    Oh, and to the commenter who suggested Ed get a girlfriend…while that would probably work out great for him, I’m sure his wife might feel a little put out…

  51. Pingback: SpinningMedium
  52. @LM, I’m afraid that you’re going to be routinely disappointed by my actions based on the bar you’re setting for me. Your comments wreak of someone who’s invited to dinner then criticizes the cook. A Yellowbook Monday morning quarterback. A YP spam back seat driver.

    As I see it, we have different perspectives on what a community is in 2009. In the case of print yellow pages spam frustration, the community is national and international. There is nothing unique about Yellowbook’s incompetence in Minneapolis. Both the company involved and the location are irrelevant to the larger issue. I’d love to see my “stunt” replicated wherever yellow pages companies are treating consumers and local businesses like crap.

  53. Yawn, I’ll take a shot at LM lack of logic–
    Let’s see, first the concern was trespassing
    –trespassing? Well, wouldn’t law enforcement go after the original trespasser, the YP delivery person who dropped off the steaming YP bag in the exact same manner that Ed used to remove it, especially at locations that used Opt-out? Then Ed removed less than 100 books, according to the post YP trespassed at 616 locations in this same area…and countable other locations in the extended area–so, prosecutors out there–who would you rather go after for trespassing?

    –attention? Where is that coming from…this is the internet, not high school; grow up LM, this has nothing to do with some lonely attempt for attention. This is a call to action, for all the others who have been quietly walking these various YP bombs to the recycle bin for years. If you truely are in the YP business, grow up again–look at Shane above if you need a mentor!

    But, here is the bottomline–people are upset, why does someone take some of their valuable time and drive their neighborhood looking and picking up garbage? People have expected YP to change and improve, and they did not; people have given them suggestions where it seems YP could not find their own, and they did not take them; people have asked nicely for YP to change or they would contact their legislators, and YP still did not improve; and people did contact their legislators and the slow moving bureaucrats talked up an opt-out idea that stunk, but YP even still did not improve…and that is how you end up with people chucking yellow baggies at suburban boxes.

    LM, you got a problem with this, you need to take it up with your co-workers and bosses…why? Because guys like Ed (and I and the other people here) aren’t stopping just because you want us to.

    We have had it with bad business–
    –I think its time for the boy scouts and girl scouts collecting books and handing them to our legislators.
    –I think each summer parade should have a YP collection trailer with the queen of the festival doing the pasted smile and beauty wave on the back.
    –I think each county fair should give five free dunk tank tosses at the mayor for each YP handed over.

    And we should continue doing this until YP is finally creates an OPT-IN system for they 10% of people who still use and truly want these legacy books.

  54. @TheOtherMike — a few things to make clear: 1) I’m most certiainly not employed by or connected to anything close to a YellowBook or Idearc or any other remotely related company. 2) I totally and fully support a legislated and enforced opt-in system 3) I absolutely appreciate and support just about every aspect of Ed’s innovative and humorous method of book return — with the sole exception of not notifying his neighbors first. That’s my *only* issue, and I think others in this thread (those on Ed’s side — not the pro-spam blurters) have agreed. Perhaps that does make me a YPSpam backseat driver…all I really am trying to do is offer suggestions on how to improve the process.

  55. Last time I checked, this was still a free country (in theory) and in a free country with free market enterprise, businesses are allowed to solicit customers in the manner in which they choose to do so as long as it isnt harmful to the consumer or their property. And the last time I checked, I got to decide if I still want a phone book. Or a newspaper. Or the Subway coupons I get in the mail. If you dont want a phone book, how much time will it take you to pick it up and walk it out to the recylcing bin? Is that too hard for you? Have you all become that lazy?

    What’s next for you Ed, you gonna come take away all those Chinese food and pizza flyers off our door handles? Are you going to start rummaging through our mailboxes and yank out all those mold removal flyers with the hideous microscopic close up of a dust myte? You gonna save us from all those business cards the gardeners leave on our doorsteps? Realtor note pads be damned! And for the love of all that’s holy, PLEASE come and remove the rock in a plastic baggie samples that innundate my driveway!!

    It doesnt matter what business youre in these days, we are all feeling the effects of the economic downturn, and businesses have the right to try and get all the sales they can and on the flip side, the consumer has the right to decide what media they use. And Yellow Book, Dex and Verizon all have the right to distribute their phone books for free.

    And despite your “focus group of me” mentality regarding the phone book, they are still being used by consumers who get fed up with 3 million pages to sift thru from a simple Google search. You want my focus group of me? I’m in the Gen X 34-49 demo $75-100k income bracket with high speed wi-fi internet and an iPhone who still uses a phone book when it comes to the simple act of calling for a pizza to be delivered or if I need a plumber or other household emergency and I keep all three copies in case one doesnt have the information that I’m looking for. (You know what else? They also have great dry cleaning coupons in the back!) A dirty little secret you may not know about Google is that they dont manage their free listings. They buy it from third party vendors and let them sit for years and depend upon individual businesses to clean up old phone numbers and addresses.

    It is an individual’s right to choose in this case, and I for one would appreciate it if you would just leave that up to me and if you dont want a phone book or a newspaper or Thai food flyer, then please get off your lazy ass and throw it out.

  56. Lemme get this straight: I’m lazy if I choose to try to put an end to a recurring waste of my time, the environment, and local businesses money? And lazy for attempting to scale the solution beyond myself. And lazy for attempting to hole company’s accountable for not living up to their PR & promises. Noted.

    I see another flooded basement scenario in your comment. Dang, you’re consistent with your antiquated justifications.

    I’m very aware of theYP industry’s Google bashing. Please take a glance at the financials of YP vs Google for another perspective.

    FWIW, I have managed to successfully unsubscribe from most printed advertising. Most companies love to know that they’re wasting money by sending you ads. For some reason, the YP industry is deaf to common sense in this regard.

  57. I’m really getting tired of people posting responses to this post as concerned citizens and ripping the author for his stance and/or tactics with your “free market/theft/trespassing” smoke screen comments. It’s obvious that many of you work either directly or indirectly in the “Yellow” industry.

    In fact, the more I think about it, the more I’m convinced “yellow” is the operative word here: “Cowardly. Dishonest in editorial comment and the presentation of news and/or opinions.”

    You are all too clever by half.

  58. Maybe YB needs to read this book off your wishlist Ed –Can We Do That?! Outrageous PR Stunts That Work–And Why Your Company Needs Them. They obviously need it more than you.

    Ed, maybe the adjectives you use to describe the yellow pages are your perception but obscuring your original point, that I totally agree with, “opt out” is “opt out” If they are unable to deliver on their opt out promise, then it is just marketing BS.

    Most people probably saw this blog because they have a google alert set for yellow pages or yellow book, etc. I find it interesting what kind of lens that puts on the discussion.

    My point about writing the other article where you poll some residents and actually ask them a question about what and why medium they may choose to find a number of a business they need to reach, is that no one has done that article. I do have google alerts set for this industry, so I see every opt out or YB article that google finds. But, they are all very similar, though not as involved, legally daring or edgy as yours. They are all as the other commenter put it “focus group of me” writen on the internet by internet people with broadband, who use the internet for work.

    Id be glad to hear your thoughts on that other article, you have my email.

  59. @Jeff, see my comment. The keywords in this article are almost certainly on the “google alerts” list of anyone in industry. These people were not fans of ed or searching on google for yellowpages opt out by chance. By the very article being written it gets sent by google straight to their inbox, it was sent to mine. That is how it works. I get 3-5 of these similar articles a day, most do not get read; they are not interesting.

    I am not slighting the authors following; this is in addition to the people who just like his videos and blogs.

  60. I would also like to point out that many times the Yellowbook distribution is done as a fund raising effort by local charity or youth groups. So by simply providing a doorstep for delivery you are helping out your local community. I would hope that if some on this post realized that they may lay off the criticism of the distribution, but then again I know better than to assume things about people.

  61. @Doug My issue with the people who are obviously affiliated with Yellowbook or related companies posting here is that they’re not identifying themselves as such, while at the same time making some rather ridiculous arguments against Ed and/or his tactics. If you have a pony in the race, just say so – it actually increases your credibility.

  62. I like the idea, I’m not so fond of the execution. I don’t see anything wrong with picking them up from outside buildings a few days after they’ve been delivered. However, randomly dumping them outside of a building in an office park that supposedly houses their local office isn’t quite ‘sticking it to the man.’ All you’re really doing is annoying the poor bastard who has to pick up the mess you’ve made, and that poor bastard probably doesn’t even know anyone who actually works in the YellowBook office. I think what you should have done is taken things further: collect many more books (possibly even soliciting for unwanted ones) and deliver them en-mass to the actual office, not just dumping them outside.

    Right now, you have a mildly amusing youtube video and a blog post about your mildly annoying prank. That’s not going to actually affect any real change. I’m all for citizen activism, but if you’re going to bother, do it well.

  63. Yes, yes yes!! I love what you are doing. Years ago I got fed up with Verizon delivering their trash to my doorstep. I searched long and hard in one of their phone books to find a way to stop delivery . I finally found a number and actually found a human being to talk to who said she would cancel delivery to my house. She dutifully took down my address and I was thankful…..until the next time they delivered several books to my house. Some time after that I came home one day to see a van driven by one guy while another worked throwing the directories onto people’s doorsteps. I felt like a fool. What’s more, when I tried to find a number in the book to reach the Verizon folks I couldn’t find it. It wasn’t there. At least they had given up the pretense. So I took some of my books and dumped them at the Verizon store in Uptown.

    For those who call we who do not wish to deal with this trash and deplore the waste of trees lazy, I’d like to make the case that I am an atheist and I don’t believe in the hereafter and therefore don’t wish to waste my limited time cleaning up after crass capitalists. This includes unwanted mail and phone calls also. Call me crazy, but the wasted time adds up. If I want something, I can figure out how to get it. And I don’t want much, which I guess makes me a bad American.

    Ed, thanks for your action. It makes people think and not feel so alone in their judgments about what we are doing to our environment and what our priorities are, and how much we have come to accept passively. I would love to see a revolution about our ridiculous overuse of plastic. How do we dispose of it? Burning it is a bad idea and is poisoning our air, water and earth. We have all the solutions but we need to start demanding them from our “leaders”.

  64. @Jeff: Full disclosure — I work for an Interactive Ad Agency. My bills are paid for by managing my clients ad placements on major search engines and their industry related websites. I am not at liberty to disclose the name due my company’s social media and blogging policies that contain opinions that my not reflect those of the company, but it is in the top 25 by billings in the U.S. Our company directly benefits from transitioning some clients that relied on yellow pages in the past to search engine marketing today. I was merely offering my “focus group of me” to demonstrate that it is dangerous to use finite terms like “no ones uses” without having sound and reliable research to back it up and not just one person’s or even 30-40 people’s opinions.

    @Ed: My point was that to me, it’s all about freedom of choice across the board and consistency from all angles: the freedom for YB, et al to sell ads and distribute books; the freedom for you the consumer to keep it or trash it.

    I’m not against opt out, but you have to look at it from their perspective, you’re asking a company to diminish the perception of the value of its own product by reducing distribution which would most likely lower ad rates and result in lost revenue and profit for that company. Anyone out there working for a company that would bend over backwards to accomplish that, especially these days? It’s no wonder they move so slowly on these types of requests for opt-out lists. Until the FTC develops a policy for “Do Not Distribute” in the same manner in which they created “Do Not Call,” of course these companies are going to drag their heels and manipulate or flat ignore opt out lists.

    Now I understand that the flip side of that is they could be inflating their sales by hiding or not keeping track of how many people keep it and actually use it. I welcome someone from YB to respond and explain this or defend any sales staistics they may throw out.

    As for the environmental aspects, I can see your point there, but there are much bigger fish to fry with regards to the environment than companies distributing phone books that people can throw directly in to a recycling bin.

    Again: The F-R-E-E-D-O-M of every phone book company and direct mail company and so on to solicit businesses for ad sales, every businesses right to choose or decline, every consumer’s right to use or throw away or ignore. Or even the freedom to sign up for that opt-out list. The market will determine how much longer it will be profitable for companies to produce and distribute phone books that — according to you — no one uses. Why would businesses continue to buy ads in the phone book if NO ONE uses them? Either theyre all fools or there are some people who decide to keep and use the book.

    In the mean time, everyone, please recycle.

  65. Bigger fish to fry? Maybe, but as long as the fryers are going…

    This is, to me, the low hanging fruit. I don’t want the YP. Don’t give it to me. It should be simple. If everyone who didn’t want a YP didn’t get one, how many gallons of water would be saved? How many tons of CO2? To the closest half-million would be fine.

  66. @RS, careful with the strawman portrayals of where I stand on this. I support the YP industry’s use of printed books for those who still want them. And, I realize this is a lot of people.

    The longer the YP industry drags its feet on opt-out, the more credibility it will lose with advertisers while simultaneously pissing away goodwill with consumers. As I understand it, the industry already has enough pr issues with local businesses over strong-arm as sales tactics, so inflating circulation by delivering to foreclosures, opt-outs, etc., simple piles on to the strikes against themselves.

    In my utopian world, companies don’t have a right to spam me with trash on my doorstep. To me, that is freedom. I tend to put the rights of people ahead of marketing companies. Crazy, I know.

  67. Re: the bigger-fish-to-fry argument about the environmental impact of unwanted phonebooks: it goes beyond just recycling and waste removal. According to the July/August issue of Mother Jones magazine, paper production has one of the higher water footprints around. It reports that it takes 1,321 gallons of water to make a single ream of white paper — far more than it takes to grow an apple, a cotton t-shirt or a hamburger. While phonebooks (made from newsprint not bleached paper) may require less water, I imagine there’s a gigantic impact on water use to have millions of copies distributed. Factor in petroleum use in manufacture and recycling, not to mention the environmental impact of vans driving to dump the things on my doorstep, and you’ve got a hefty environmental pricetag… all for something I didn’t request (and, like Ed, specifically asked not to receive).

  68. I am so glad this dude is speaking for everyone…….if it didnt make them money businesses wouldnt bother…hate people who think they know everything….dick

  69. @ryan, if you’re going to call me a dick, be sure your justifaction is accurate. I’m in no way speaking for everyone.

    That being said, I’m pretty darn sure that businesses gain nothing by paying for ads in books delivered to people who’ve proactively unsubscribed only to receive additional print YP sam.

  70. Why is “opt out” so hard for the haters to grasp?

    Some of you have noted that you collect paychecks from phone book companies, others seem to believe that if you disagree with Ed he is stupid, mean, wasting his time, etc.

    If you actually followed this blog for more than the last 80 odd posts you would understand that this is not a prohibition argument. If you had any way of defeating it soundly, you might have let your case rest 60 some responses ago.

    Instead you are filling my e-mail and those of other Kohler fans with more evidence of your hostility towards anyone who doesn’t help pay your salary or agree with your limited view of the world.

    Keep posting your garbage and testing your theory that no media is bad media. I bet the tobacco companies might not agree with you on that one.

    Personally every post I read brings me one step closer to jumping out of the peanut gallery and collecting some of these phonebooks myself. Better yet, it’s making me wonder what kinds of things I can do to petition my local city council.

  71. talk about a limited view…you basically saying your view if the total truth… i said your being a self riotious smug dick… really simple….you dont have your own business do you…and i know its not the only marketing they should door do it at all but there are people that still use it… thats a fact…only use facts not rantings of someone who probably has too much time on his hands in between porn….

  72. @Ryan, I think the YP industry has a chicken choking stranglehold on righteousness in this case. It stuns me that you can’t grasp the concept that SOME people still find the books valuable while some OTHER people no longer have any use for them. Your failure to grasp this common sense concept (a somewhat typical response from YP evangelists) helps explain why the YP industry is in the position it’s in today.

    Try asking your customers if they’re interested in paying for the production and delivery of books to vacant homes or homes that have chosen to opt-out of delivery. If you don’t care about consumers, at least listen to your remaning customers.

  73. @Ryan

    Do you have an argument or are you just hurling insults at Ed to get him to respond to you?

    Ed’s “rants” seem to be opinions with a rational and I believe Ed has illustrated them with facts. So far all I have read from you is one line characterizations and insults without footnotes.

    Is there a perspective you can articulate based upon a line of thinking? I’m not saying you don’t have one, I’m just saying that if your goal is to win hearts and minds, you may need to make a case.

    What basis do you have for your line of thought on this subject?

  74. OMG! I am thinking Ed is one of the biggest dork losers on the planet. Walking around neighborhoods looking for phone books that haven’t pick up yet so you can hurl them back at the phone company. People have priorities – I don’t pick up my phone book immediately. Dude, obviously getting a girl friend looks very unlikely for you, but you gotta find something more constructive. You realize you only have one life to live and your doing this with it. I am thinking you should see a psychologist or seek out some sort of counselor, you have some sort of mental problems it seems.

  75. @Joe

    You are entitled to your own opinion but if you read the post, you’ll find lots of lovers agreeing with Ed and lots of haters using cheap insults to try to tear down what is essential a simple and well articulated argument.

    Ed was simply providing the Phonebook distributor with the experience that they provide to homeowners who don’t want these publications dropped on their doorstep. This bit of theater got attention and A LOT of it.

    Kind of reminds me of this truth ad:

  76. Dude, next time save me a couple! I’m training for a backpacking trip and could use phone books as dead weight.

  77. @jack me hoffer, I think you meant “you’re” as in “you are a deuchbag.” And, I think I think you meant “douchebag rather than “deuchbag.” Small things like that matter when you’re throwing ad hominem attacks.

  78. @Ed

    Are the clever insults and witty screen names of your opponents disuading you from this cause?

  79. @Matt, I can only presume that Yellow Pages industry insiders agree with my statements but don’t want people talking about the industry’s environmental waste and inflated circulation policies. Why else would they choose to attack me personally rather than the issues I brought up in the video?

  80. I guess that makes me a yellow page insider since I pay over $500 per month for my ads in the yellow pages. I don’t have time to go out prospecting for new customers and depend on my yellow page ads to get me sales so I can feed my family, and feed my employee’s family too. Yes, I am a home owner which means I have a mortgage to take care of and I also have to pick-up the yellow book when it is dropped like many things left at the doorstep. In the video, it appeared you didn’t ask these other home owners if you could grab their books, which as an advertiser I find troubling. I am a small business owner but you are a total deuchbag!

  81. thank you brent….again i dislike anyone who hides behind the “this is my opinion” line then goes on and takes it upon themselves to ram there opinions down peoples throats….
    look your panties are bunched up because god forbid someone made a mistake once, by the way not all directories even have an opt out option.

    anyway, only replied because you looked like someone who needs the attention.
    go ahead and comment with the smug pretentious way you do pick on my grammar my point of view whatever…
    have opinions please but no need to act like your opinion is going to be universally be hailed as gospel
    good luck be safe and remember, jesus loves you….its everyone else that thinks your a deuchbag

  82. @ryan

    You don’t like Ed’s “this is my opinion” shield and yet, what exactly is your argument based on?
    Score the respones dear friend and you will find more lovers than haters. These people seem to be responding to something.

    Why should any of us follow you? What’s your opinion based on?

    You say that you are posting because you think Ed needs attention? I can guarantee you that Ed doesn’t need to post about the yellow pages to get attention. This guy can draw a crowd to watch him fold toilet paper.

    “This is my opinion”: You are a deuchbag. While I cannot say that you attended business school at the U, you definately have firm resolve in restating your case again and again and again withour really explaining your viewpoint.

    But, and “this is my opinion”, you are really posting because on some level deep down, you worry that maybe Ed has a point and his message might start to cut through to the masses and win over some supporters. Of course “this is my opinion” and I will hide behind it regardless of what you may post to the contrary.

  83. @Brent Jones

    I’m sorry that Ed’s blog disturbs you but if you followed this blog you would know that Ed has been worked up about the “opt out” issue for a long time and no one from the YP industry really wants to work with him so much as they just want him to shut up and go away.

    I mean, how hard would it be for people to make sure to remove “Ed Kohler” from your distribution list. Seems like a small and easy way to prevent him from blogging about you. The thing is, they don’t really want to make “opt out” work for anyone.

    The problem is, these guys underestimate Kohler and his small but growing legion of fans.

  84. Brent, it’s great to hear that you’ve found a form of advertising that works well for you. If I may ask, how many sales have you made from yellow pages delivered to those who threw them away or recycled them as soon as they received them? And how effective were your ads in the books delivered to vacant homes, apartments, and businesses? Does it bother you to know that you’re paying for the delivery and disposal of books that were never opened?

    This in no way means that your ads aren’t effective or that YP isn’t a useful marketing channel. But don’t you think your ad dollars would go further if books were only printed and delivered to locations where the potential ROI is higher than zero?

    @ryan, this blog, unlike yellow pages, is opt-in. You don’t have to deal with it unless you choose to, so any pain you’re feeling is self-inflicted.

  85. I live in the same neighborhood as ED and he must have STOLE my yellow Book since I have not received yet. Bring back my yellow book you thief!!!!!!!!

  86. @Matt

    Seriously lame….it is SO not difficult to find a Yellow Book. Besides, if this was you, you left the treasured item on your doorstep for more than 3 days and didn’t post until over a week later.

    How about an address to verify that you are not just a random prankster?

    If I don’t see an address, I am going to assume you are just a bomb-thrower and not someone who believes they were wronged. If you are, I am certain Ed can find a couple of people who would gladly provide their UNWANTED copies.

  87. @ my supposed neighbor, Matt: Why do you feel the need to make up lies about me? Your post comes from the IP address which is an office of If you’re on the right side of this argument (reminder: the argument is over whether yellowbook should honor their own opt-out list as promised), you shouldn’t have to make up lies about people who point out that Yellowbook doesn’t honor its promises (as this post illustrates).

    I’d like to point out that not all Yellowbook employees are anonymous douchebag commenters or straight-up liars. I have received constructive comments from Yellowbook employees in the past, although they came on posts that were not directly pointing out Yellowbook’s opt-out incompetencies.

  88. Or Ed could track down your IP address…..

    Where does he GET such wonderful TOYS?!?!

  89. wow!!!

    hit a nerve ed

    how bout you stopgoing on other peoples property…..good idea

    love the I.P address thing…cute!

    got your panties all bunched up.
    your making this too much fun


  90. @Ryan

    Just who has their panties in a bunch?

    Or do you routinely lie about who you are when your insults fail to win arguments?

  91. @ryan, I called Yellowbook’s PR group after posting this blog post to let them know that some of their employees were doing a very poor job representing their brand by posting anonymous ad hominem attack comments. Generally, it’s a better PR move to admit you’re wrong and try to solve the problem – or don’t say anything – rather than attack someone who’s raised a legitimate concern.

    It is interesting to see watch where you’re posting from.

  92. dude,

    do you think you are actually intimidating me..

    this was fun for a minute watching your punk ass get worked up…
    all i know is that i can say basically anything i want

    block me bitch!!!!!!!!
    ohhh and i wasnt questioning if you were a little girl…now i am

  93. Dude, I can’t believe you have a job.

    Ed, why don’t you just go ahead and close comments on this post? Clearly, there’s no more productive discussion going on.

  94. @Graham, I like to leave comments open because people do tend to stumble across interesting things later. Ryan’s clearly struggling to contribute anything of value to this discussion to is probably block worthy. I’ve never had to block someone before so hope I don’t have to go there.

    @Ryan, don’t get your panties in a bunch. You’re more than welcome to disagree with my opinions but try sticking to debating ideas rather than stooping to personal attacks.

  95. @Matt, could you explain what’s unreasonable about asking Yellow Pages companies to not send print directories to those who no longer plan to use them? I hope you can bring more to the table than insults.

  96. I don’t accuse the garbage man or the recycler with stealing my garbage.

    As far as paper telephone books go:

    No one could take anything else I would more gladly give.

    The original Matt

  97. Ed,

    I’m sorry that you received a Yellowbook phone directory when you claim you opted out. Distribution is never perfect for any publication. Yellowbook prides itself on 97% accuracy that is audited.

    As far as your crusade….You need to find work or get a hobby. You obviously have an axe to grind with Yellowbook that goes way beyond having a directory delivered to your home once a year. That’s right, only once per year. It is offensive that you would take it upon yourself to “steal” a product that provides my family with a living.

    I know for a fact that most weeks you get more unsolicited direct mail than the paper equivalent of an annual phone directory. At least the phone directory provides a service to the community and it’s advertisers. In turn, that provides jobs and stimulates the local economy like you would never imagine.

    Your local plumbers, auto repair shops, contractors, etc rely on the very product that you are taking from their customers. Just because you don’t use it doesn’t mean that others in your town do not. We have the numbers and usage to prove that it does get used

    Are you going around taking everyone’s unsolicited direct mail each week? If you are on a crusade to save your neighbors from what you view as “print spam,” it looks like you have a full time job each day going after that unsolicited mail.


  98. @Dan, I believe the video illustrates that I did a bit more than claim to opt-out. I recorded the conversation I had with a Yellowbook representative who assured me that I was on the opt-out list.

    Based on your 97% figure, are you suggesting that there was only a 3% chance that I’d inadvertently receive your directory after opting out a year before? If so, I think your auditors should be fired based on what I’ve seen in Minneapolis. For example, the delivery rate to clearly vacant (stickers on the door vacant) appears to be at least 50%.

    Why are you so concerned about how I spend my time? Is it because I’m pointing out your company’s delivery incompetence?

    As I’ve explained before, Minneapolis residents receive yellow pages from three companies every year, and considering that you’re not the incumbent in this market, it’s very likely that your directory’s usage market share is well below 50%. While visiting you local offices, I noticed that the most popular book in the building was not Yellowbook but Qwest Dex. You work for one of three companies that put together abridged lists of local businesses on paper once a year. You never responded to what I believe was a fair follow-up to your comment on this thread.

    Ponder this: If your company lived up to its own promises, this blog post never would have happened.

    Direct mail is an extraordinarily weak justification for your company’s delivery incompetence. Direct mail companies honor opt-out requests since their businesses rely on quality lists. If someone doesn’t like receiving a catalog, for example, they can easily call or email the company to remove themselves. And, unlike Yellowbook, the companies actually honor those requests.

    Dan, it’s sad to see you get so defensive about your company’s incompetence when all I’m doing is asking you to live up to your own promises.

  99. @Dan, as I understand your livelihood, you sell ads to small businesses who hope to turn their investment in advertising into increased sales for their businesses. Assuming that’s the case, how exactly do your clients benefit from your company wasting small business’ money by printing and delivering the Yellowbook to opt-out addresses and vacant homes?

    Lets assume for a second that Yellowbook only delivered their print directories to those who planned to use them. Distribution would certainly be less, but there would be no drop in sales for advertisers. The money saved on print could go to things like cheaper ads for small businesses, greater commissions for you, or to Yellowbook’s bottom line. Isn’t that a good thing?

    Being arrested for picking up books that have been sitting in front of people’s homes for days would be pretty funny. While anything’s possible, don’t you think someone would have to see value in what I “stole” from their property in order to press charges?

    Dan, our interests are aligned. We both want thousands of small businesses to benefit from the money they spend on print yellow pages advertising. If you agree that that’s the value proposition that supports your livelihood, we should be able to agree that delivering the Yellowbook to those who no longer use it (or vacant properties) is a poor business practice.

  100. Ed,

    Of course I’m defensive. It’s my livelihood you moron! And thousands of small businesses rely on our product. You would be defensive if someone was attacking your livelihood also.

    Let’s stick to the facts. You receive our directory once a year. So you opted out and you happened to get one. BIG DEALIO! Ooooh you got a phone book, and you go psychotic throughout your neighborhood??? You are a wacko. Surprised you haven’t been arrested yet…

  101. @Dan

    Many people find themselves employed by industry’s that turn a profit at the expense of the public good. I’m certain that there are people paying their bills by working for companies that pollute the environment, fleece poor people and deny them medical care but that doesn’t mean that society should turn a blind eye to their business practices so that “people can make a living”.

    From your perspective, the services your company offers balance out the waste that Ed (and many of his blog readers) are concerned about. You are entitled to your opinion, but other people, besides Ed Kohler agree with him and disagree with you. Trying to antagonize him, galvanizes us and reinforces our feelings that you and your coworkers don’t take environmental concerns seriously.

    If Ed’s opinions are so unjustified, why do they both you so much? It seems unlikely that his blog is really a threat to your job. Isn’t it more likely you have a guilty conscience?

  102. It seems YPers like to point to the greater evil of direct mail, so let’s take a minute to point out yet another huge reason why YPers are worse–
    –Direct mail uses the delivery professionals to make their deliveries, the USPS, which employs people with fulltime jobs, who are well trained and supervised, who are given full health insurance and other benefits, and who care enough to do a good job doing their deliveries in a well-seasoned and well-understood delivery channel.
    –YPers use non-professionals, contract companies who hire people off the street for minimum wage, forces them to provide their own vehicles to haul around a ton of books doing untold damage and uncovered if a breakdown occurs to their vehicle, provides shoddy instructions and virtually no supervision (as we have seen in various comments on this and other blogs on this topic), and maybe worst of all they provide virtually zero accountability for their mistakes along the way as they hide behind this series of strung out laborers in their chain of unhappiness…which pretty much is the management 101 case study for poor management in product delivery.

    Even more pronounced in my mind–is we have seen in comments and other related blogs that UK YP has already addressed this exact problem–so USA YP can’t claim they do not know this problem, instead they have known it for easily a decade and have seen working solutions–therefore, they inaction is purely a mix of arrogance, greed, and stupidity as they use denial as a weapon to resist any improvement to their own business. They are the prototype for what is WRONG with american businesses–the inability to act in their own long-term best interests.

    Why should I feel even a moment’s concern in preserving “Dan’s” job of pissing me (his supposed customer) off until guys like him finally drive his own company out of business?

  103. Ed, I have to say – you inspire me. HILARIOUS.

    I think it’s quite b@llsy to walk up to people’s doorsteps and swipe the YP; however, if it’s been lying in the elements 2 or 3 days, odds are it’s NOT a priority, so good for you to make a point.

    If I had a nickel for every pound of phone book I’ve thrown away over the years, I could take a vacation.

    Keep on keepin’ on πŸ™‚

  104. ED- Your obsession is beyond ridiculous. The clients who pay for ads don’t give a fuck if the books get delivered to people who don’t want them. They only care about those who do want the book. Price and distribution have NOTHING to do with anything, so your redundant suggestion that advertisers are paying for a book that isn’t looked at is so fucking stupid, it doesn’t need to be addressed or even recognized. I wonder if you’re a fired yellowbook employee. What other human being would take the time to create such a moronic video. The ROI for current advertisers is probably great if they continue to use the book. Believe it or not, most people over the age of 40 are computer idiots, so the book still works for them.

    I would like to see you walk the streets of Manhattan trying to steal copies of yellow page books from people’s doorsteps, you stupid inbred. I hope someone videos the end results, lol. Things like that don’t happen here, because the streets have a way of educating sexless gorillas like yourself. I hope Santa Claus gets you a blowup doll for Christmas.

    Go feed the homeless. Go visit an old age home and do some volunteer work. How about getting a second job, or a first? Hell, go play in traffic. Anything is better than watching an ugly fuck like yourself HUMILIATE your family by creating this superfluous piece of shit video.

  105. @Jimmy, thanks for the passionate comment. Is your intent to sway my position or just insult me out of frustration with your own industry’s behavior?

    Regarding the Manhattan comment, here’s an example of yellow pages waste in NYC. How long do stacks of books have to sit outside apartments before they’re deemed waste? Do advertisers look at stacks of unwanted phone books and say, “There is my ad dollar at work?”

    The only way that price and distribution “have NOTHING to do with anything” is if they have no cost. We both know that that’s not the case, Jimmy.

    As you frame it, the yellow pages industry’s only remaining users are “computer idiots,” and based on that insult of your target market, you assume that the only way people can find local business information is through the print yellow pages (the one put out by YOUR company, of course) or online. We both know that isn’t true, but if it makes you feel better to say that, have fun.

    Jimmy, here’s something I can’t figure out: Wouldn’t life be better for yellow pages sales people if their client’s ad dollars were spent on books that are actually going to be used? What if all the money saved by not printing and distributing books to those who no longer use them went into the pockets of YP salespeople?

  106. I just received my second double batch (one at front door and one at back door) of the yellowbook. I live in a condo complex and the idiots that work for yellow book have delivered at least 100 sets of books, twice in the last week. Can’t they see the old ones lying around in halls and out in the rain? So that is 200 sets of books for 50 condos. And there are 3 other complexes on the 2 streets that we are located on.

    No one asks for these books, This is pure litter. Should be against the law. Have you noticed you can never reach a person on the phone numbers listed on the book, and that they make throwing these out your personal expense and responsibility. They hide it under the guise of Keep America/Georgia/Atlanta Beautiful, and when you call these people, they tell you they don’t have a relationship with ATT or yellowbook, and it is not their problem…why do they allow their name to be used??

    It is all a scam on the consumer and is being forced down our throats. Send out a postcard and let folks order the damned books if they want them.

    The saddest part is the waste and volume of trash. It is one of the biggest sources of litter in my neighborhood and the books just sit out week after week, as they weigh a ton, and people are lazy to throw them out. The amount of books at one condo complex cost the homeowners a full dumpster at about $100 . Someone has to volunteer to spend an afternoon picking these things up and walking to the trash. So they sit. I pick up several each time I go to the trash, and I am tired of after 20 years.

    Some of your posters don’t see a problem with this one little set of 15 pounds of litter. They need to multiply the problem.

    What is so hard about delivery of directories to those that want them by postcard or email request??

    I too have attempted opt outs, and get these books year after year.

  107. well, i was wondering, all those yellowbooks u went and took off people’s property, do u even know IF they opted out of delivery?? or, did u just assume they must’ve opted out because u did? also, even if they were still sitting outside after days, how could u know that was a message to u that they didn’t want it? btw, when yellowbook calls and verifies deliveries, the people’s yellowbooks that u took off their hands will tell yellowbook that they didnt get a directory because u took them. that will cost someone who DOES need the money (otherwise, they wouldnt be delivering phonebooks) their paycheck. I was wondering how much research u put into that. if u have no idea whether or not they themselves opted out of delivery, then u cost someone their paycheck (not everyone has a lot of money, and a lot of time to bother with such things as hunting the county for delivered yellowbooks). if this, which i imagine is, the case, i really feel u should make an eco friendly statement that doesn’t cost someone a much needed paycheck.

  108. @heather, isn’t it interesting that Yellowbook verifies whether books are delivered, yet doesn’t seem to verify whether people who’ve opted out of YP delivery did not receive a book as requested. Sadly, there are delivery people caught up in the mess created by Yellowbook’s incompetence. I also hear about people harassing YP delivery people about the spam they’re creating. Of course, it wouldn’t be considered spam if it was only delivered to those who actually want the books in 2010. If only Yellowbook and other YP companies could figure this out, life would be better for many households across the country and for YP delivery folks.

  109. Ed, you have a lot of balls!
    … and a lot of time to waste
    … and a chip on his shoulder bigger than mine
    I used to pull non-conformist stunts like this – back in my college days (1970~75).

    But I do respect you! You will be part of the change that eventually shakes things up.

    It’s possible that your act and the frustration of others will lead to laws with TEETH. But ultimately, those teeth will not be jail time or fines (a form of retroactive punitive penalties) — But rather a Vanquish like deposit-seizure activated by the poorly targeted recipient. [*]

    As others point out, you could have been arrested for both trespassing and for throwing the YellowBooks on the front lawn of the distributor. But, I suspect that if it went to trial, a jury would accept your act as both “poetic justice” and even LESS of an infraction then the distributor’s massive carpeting of every lawn in the county. (Or should I say “every lawn in the country”!! I get these books in Massachusetts too. And the Vanquish office gets about 10 for each business in the building!!!!)

    * I have created a specification for the ultimate demise of irritating and irrelevant contact. It has been tested as an email antispam mechanism for several years (with perfect results). After all, it should not be necessary to OPT-OUT of every damn spammer. OPT-OUT gives away personal contact information, confirms your address, forces action of non-participants, and gets to the leaves without killing the roots! (the ROOT list). Ref:

    Ellery Davies
    Ellery (at) starbus (dot) com

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