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?
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?