Back in August 2009, I wrote a post called YellowpagesOptOut.com is Nothing but a Domain Name, where I explained, well, the title gives a hint.
Basically, YellowPagesOptOut.com redirected people to YPAssociation.org (still does) where people can type in their zip code to find each of the companies that deliver books to their homes without permission. People who no longer want yellow pages – or wish to reduce the number that they receive – can then click through to each of the sites and work through tedious opt-out procedures over and over again until they achieve their desired results.
Of course, this only puts them on the opt-out list. It’s not a guarantee that they’ll no longer receive the books, as I’ve experienced year after year since opting out of all of the directory publishers that are spamming my property.
KyleMacMac2 explains the issue well in this YouTube video:
A year later, one might imagine that the Yellow Pages Association has figured out a better way to deal with this issue. And, sure enough, they have innovated, although calling their latest work innovated is a bit of a reach. Last month, a group of Yellow Pages companies coughed up some coin to Conservation Minnesota to build a site called DontTrashThePhoneBook.org:
What is this? It’s YellowPagesOptOut.com with a Minnesota focus. That’s it. It’s just another site where people are pointed to all of their local directory spammer’s sites, forcing people to tediously unsubscribe from directories they never asked for in the first place.
One thing that I find encouraging is seeing the president of the Yellow Pages Association admit that the Yellow Pages industry should see no drop in ad revenues by scaling back deliveries to people who don’t use the books:
Despite decreased deliveries, YPA President Neg Norton said he doesn’t expect local ad revenue to decline, because those who opt out out likely weren’t using the phone books anyway.
“[Advertisers] are still going to get the same calls and leads as they were before,” Norton said.
Obviously, only books delivered to people who bring them into their houses and open them from time to time are providing value to the Yellow Pages industry’s customers. Every book that’s an over-delivery, whether it’s sent to someone who no longer uses it or a vacant residence, is taking money out of local small businesses, the Yellow Pages company’s bottom line, and local tax payers who are forced to dispose of YP spam.
The Future of Opt-Out
The Yellow Pages industry’s two largest trade groups have announced that they plan to build a universal opt-out site, and launch it in early 2011. If this lives up to the hype, it would allow people to use one online form to control the number of directories that come to their property, and from whom. That sounds like a positive step.
Of course, it still fails to address the problems we see with deliveries to vacant homes, including foreclosures. It’s also unlikely to help address over deliveries to apartment or office buildings.
However, there is a way to solve this problem. In fact, the phone directory industry supports it: Opt-In. If people have to request a book rather than have to opt-out, truly only people who want them will get them. However, at this point, the phone directory industry only supports this for white pages rather than yellow pages. This has happened in Cincinnati, OH (the phone directory company argued that phone directories [um, just the white ones] are “outmoded”)
Cincinnati Bell says most customers rarely use the printed residential directory any longer but prefer to look up numbers on the Web.
and Albany, NY
Verizon, the largest telephone company in New York with about 5.1 million lines, estimates that approximately 5,000 tons of paper per year could be saved, as well as the significant energy costs associated with printing and distributing much larger directories statewide, creating a significant environmental benefit and unburdening thousands of customers who have no need for a printed directory.
but not in Minnesota yet.