Yellow Pages Opt Out: prime example of marketing BS

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Ah.. the wonderful world of printed advertising. Even more wonderful world of phonebook based printed advertising. Ten years aro companies were fighting to the death to be on the Yellow Pages cover and payed dearly for a bigger font or for an ugly frame around their “ad”. Because people did use those giant books, and if something unexpected (toilet leaking, cat barfing, lawn needs mowing, whatever) happend they’d just grab the big yellow book, find corresponding section and pick a company.

Except that’s not the case any more. First thing — to google for that service. Then yelp.com. Then whatever else online world will offer (except, probably, for the Angie’s list, because I am not willing to pay for a referral service — it’s just a matter of principle). And while most of the customers moved on from heavy paper-based data sources of questionable value (reviews of providers, anyone?) all those “directory” companies couldn’t follow. Some, of course, even started their own online sites with directories. But traditional Monopolies, like AT&T, continue to churn out these door stoppers.

And when phone customers started to complain about dead tree based product being thrown at their door and immediately moved into recycle bin, it took providers a while to realize, that people might actually care enough to try to opt out from the book delivery. So, there is now a unified opt out site: http://www.yellowpagesoptout.com/.

Fantastic, you’d think. Let’s just opt out and be done with waste, right? Well, not so fast. Because the act of opting out reduces printer’s reach their marketing department concocted a wonderful scheme involving “registration”. You see, normally while phone company might know your name (if you have a plain old telephone line) and even publish it in white pages (unless you pay their $5 a month racket to not do it), Yellow Pages were different. Carpet-bombing the territory never involved names or phone numbers or whatever. But now, when user cares enough to try to stop this, companies demand to know your:

- Full name (first and last)
- Email address (which is so important, you have to enter it twice)
- Phone number (what if they decide to call you?!)
- Delivery address (finally)

So the simple question is why. Why is it that you require me to give you my email address and register for a freaking site. You expect me to change my mind every few months, log in and do something? Why do you want my name now, when up until now you never actually bothered to learn it to deliver a few pounds of paper to my door? Phone number? I don’t have a land line phone number. Heck, that’s the reason why I am trying to opt out, yet here you claim that “A valid telephone number is required in order to process and verify all opt-out requests.” What, without phone number address doesn’t exist? The whole scheme is to prevent an unfortunate prank of someone unsubscribing someone else from precious information source? Hello, you leave giant mountains of new Yellow Pages at every single post office. And office building. And there’s a phone number one can call to request out-of-turn delivery. Why is it that you want me to register for opting out?

The only thing the opt-out system needs to do, is to have one field: Address that needs to be opted out. And one button: Please don’t deliver me directory books. That’s it. It doesn’t need to ask you for a separate entry of zip code to “customize opt-out” — what, if I don’t want AT&T book I will want the other one instead?

Let’s have a look at Yellow Pages Opt Out’s privacy policy:

We value your privacy and will not share your personal information that you provide us with any third parties, other than yellow pages publishers to whom your directory delivery preferences will be communicated, unless it is necessary to comply with legal or administrative requirements, or if we believe you are violating the terms of use of the Site.

So if you look suspicious enough to make them believe you’ve somehow violated their terms of use (which, by the way, do not exist as a separate page), they threaten to sell your private information to telemarketers? Cause I’m not sure how else to interpret this. Along with the fact that your information is given to the yellow pages publishers along with your desire to opt out (and there’s nothing here that says they can’t sell your info to someone).

In other words yes, you can theoretically opt out. But doing so requires you to register and have a phone number, and provide all other information to this broker. WTF?

10 Responses to “Yellow Pages Opt Out: prime example of marketing BS”

  1. SHobbs

    Thank you for sharing your feedback on http://www.YellowPagesOptOut.com. I want to assure you that we do not use consumers’ personal information for any other purpose than to give directory publishers the background they need to implement opt-out requests. As you can imagine, it’s a big task to collect opt-out requests for 200 publishers across the country. In order to do this, we need to make sure that we have accurate information that isn’t duplicated, confirm its authenticity, and provide consumers with a record of their opt-out requests. We take your concerns seriously and have updated our privacy policy to better reflect our commitment to protecting private information. Full disclosure, I work for the Local Search Association.

    Reply
    • Max Smolev

      Stephanie,

      Thanks for commenting. However this does not fully address my concerns:
      - I do not have a valid land line number, thus opting out becomes impossible
      - Name is never used when phone book is delivered. I could understand using email for one-time “please click the link to confirm” but requiring registration doesn’t seem to be warranted
      - De-duplication can easily be done by the most important field — address.

      Thank you.

      Reply
    • Some Guy

      Bullshit. Why the hell do I need to register to opt out? Complete and utter bullshit. I’ll continue to throw the fucking thing in the trash before it enters my house. Of course, this will pad the numbers you claim of actual readership. I cannnot wait until these utterly useless publications are finally put down for good.

      Reply
    • SuZieCoyote

      Baloney. I will NOT give you my personal information to stop you from delivering a book I have not requested. Your publishers don’t need my personal information and I don’t need to give it. So keep on delivering the book and I will move it from my front door to my recycle bin. What you are doing to our children’s world by wasting theses resources is appalling.

      Reply
  2. Disgusted Homeowner

    We opted out. On 2-15-11 and it was supposed to be good for three years.

    I watched the deliver driver roll past the sign prohibiting unsolicited deliveries (it specifically listed the dozen or so we have been inundated with, INCLUDING PHONE DIRECTORIES), open his hatch and deliver a bag of directories to our massive carport. Then, he turns the car around and drives back up our long driveway WITH THE BACK HATCH OPEN, thus preventing getting the vehicle license plate. He knew it was wrong to do.

    We have put in messages with our local law enforcement and the AT&T Real Yellow Pages “Opt Out” people who confirmed we are on the opt out list. Sadly prosecution may be limited to a $1000 fine plus court/attorney costs but the delivery dude didn’t look like he could afford a $10 fine, let alone a grand.

    What a crock.

    Reply
  3. Stefan

    I opted out on “May 31, 2011 at 6:12 pm” yet I received TWO of the same YP books and plastic bag sometime today (7/18/12). I called the 800 number and got a script reading drone. Yuck.

    Reply
  4. Sam Franks

    I have “opt out” twice over a two year period. And today (10/2012) I received a copy of the YP directory in a yellow plastic bag. Yellow Pages customer service simply informed me to put the YP book in the recycling bin or trash… sad!
    <>

    Reply
  5. Paul Howard Duran

    Funny how each year twice a year Verizon and
    A-T-n-T deliver hundreds of phonebooks to
    homes businesses apartments and whathave
    you!
    And I have been looking in hundreds of Downey
    dumpsters and I kid you not each phonebook
    season I find over 300-400 phonebooks in these
    dumpsters! Most are for that part of the year while some are of the previous year.
    I had 450 2012-2013 phone books in my garage
    most were Verizon some A-T-n-T and YP’s.
    I wrote a letter to Verizon to have somebody come

    Reply
  6. Dick Hurts

    Yellow Pages OPT OUT PHONE NUMBER
    1-866-329-7118

    AVOID DATA HARVESTING! Lie your ass off!
    Give a bogus name.
    Claim no land line & give a bogus cell #.

    Just lie, none of this is verified.

    Reply
  7. Succesfully Opted Out

    I opted out sometime last year and this year when all my neighbors got their new Yellow Pages all I got was a postcard reminding me that I had opted out and giving info on how to opt back in.

    None of the info you give them is checked against anything, so just put whatever in the other fields with the correct address.

    Reply

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