Yellow Pages Opt Out: prime example of marketing BS

Posted by & filed under Misc, Technology.

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 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:

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?

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

  1. SHobbs

    Thank you for sharing your feedback on 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.

    • Max Smolev


      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.

      • angry resident

        I’ve opted out every time I got a phone book for over 10 years now, guess what, I still get them EVERY TIME MY NEIGHBORS DO!!!#!
        Here’s the thing, they pay people to deliver the books per unit so they have no incentive to not deliver to everyone.

        • Sarah

          I had that problem after opting out of mailers such as PennySaver and Redplum. Even though I had opted out, the mailman kept delivering copies to me, with different neighbors’ addresses on them! Apparently he just didn’t pay attention and stuffed whatever into the mailbox. I finally had to post a sign, “Dear Mail Carrier: DO NOT DELIVER MY NEIGHBORS’ PENNYSAVER! It was SO frustrating.

      • Kenneth Haag

        Max, if you haven’t already done so, have a look at the LSA website referenced in Hobbs’ “full disclosure”. Since it is the nature and purpose of such entities to do what they do, there may be little we can do to ‘opt out’ of the entanglements they construct for us and for which they pride themselves “until the heavens ring”.

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • Some other dude

      Do you see the comments here? What is your reply to the points raised? Your company is inflating its numbers, killing off trees, and then putting silly barriers in the way of opting out.
      This is 2014. The responsible thing for your company to do is to make receiving these anachronisms “opt-in”.
      What do you think?

    • Michael J Moore

      Who ever deliver the phone book throws it in the grass every time Iam hadicap I don’t want the book anymore.

    • Margaret Wyrick

      Please save half a forrest and do not send me the yellow pages. Can’t imagine why there has to be so much verbage just to opt out??? It just makes it confusing and time consuming.

    • Joe Mama

      What a crock! You need to send info to my email address to complete registration. You aren’t getting my e address, I’ll continue to deposit directly into the garbage can as I’ve been doing for years.

  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.

  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.

  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!

  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
    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

  6. Dick Hurts


    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.

  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.

    • Sick of the Greed

      I’ve opted out every year for 10 years and STILL get one yearly. Somehow you got lucky.

  8. Another Disgusted

    I made an account at about a year ago and opted out of everything available in my zip code but I still got one of the ones on the list recently Not only do they make it very difficult for you to stop getting these dead trees but they don’t even honor it when you jump through the hoops and opt out!! There was a phone number listed for the publisher so I left a scathing message on their voice messaging system.

  9. Another Disgusted

    Oh, BTW, when I tried to submit my comment just now, I was FORCED to enter a URL in the Website field. WTF? I don’t have a website. I tried several fake sites but it just kept saying “enter a URL”. I finally entered and the form accepted that. You complain about making you jump through senseless hoops and then you have one on your own page.

    • Max Smolev

      Sorry about that. It’s the default WordPress behavior, I’ll try to fix it up in a few days.

      • patricia zona

        I really do not need another phone book. Why are there so many–constantly. I thought we all were to be aware of waste–the environment etc. We have too much government waste and inaction. If it doesn’t make sense, just do it anyway. Keeps the masses busy. I do not need another phone book…And, I didn’t want to include my email address either. So, don’t email me either…

  10. Julia Long

    stop these yellow books because I’ve never send a place with all books and not only housing but other places.

  11. Tree Hugger

    I would like to see the responsible companies that insist on delivering this now mostly worthless collection of publications, in addition to those responsible for the overwhelming amount of unsolicited junk mail that I never read that I find in my mailbox, held accountable for the environmental impact that they are causing. I honestly think that we have reached the point in society where the list of people wanting these books is shorter than the list of people that don’t. Maybe they should only be delivered by ‘opt-in’ instead of ‘opt-out’. I realize that these companies’ future and the jobs of a few people may be at stake here, but like everyone else, adapt or become extinct.

  12. Jennifer in the Valley

    This is complete and utter bullshit – I do not want a phone book. I tried to opt out using a fake email and phone and got a message that the opt out registration could oy be completed once I opened the email message that was sent to me. I should not have to give a company more personal information than they already have in order to stop receiving a bunch of dead trees that I never wanted in the first place.

  13. Bill dakelski

    If we did not have a corrupt legal system a federal judge would stop this nonsense with the snap of a finger.

  14. Bill dakelski

    Perhaps the solution is to organize a few desperate “customers” to pick up these unrequested, littered books at curbs and return a few thousand of them to the company or a senators office.

    • Kenneth Haag

      Excellent idea! I’ve had results to my sending even a hefty package of my other junk mail to companies, their CEO’s, etc. Here’s the source of the latest delivery of Yellow Pages: a company called hibü Write to them (or send junk) c/o Directory, 6300 C Street SW, Cedar Rapids, IA 52404

  15. Badmoonrising

    Why a phone number? Because “publishers may do a phone survey to verify opt-out compliance.” There’s the turd in the punchbowl.

  16. Class Action

    I would like to suggest that some enterprising young attorney create a class action lawsuit against the directory companies who are willfully and repeatedly ignoring the people who take the time to signup through It’s obvious they want to keep their distribution numbers artificially inflated for the sake of their advertising fees and therefore don’t honor the opt out requests which they have legally agreed to honor. You can add another person to the ver-growing list of people who have posted here about opting out yet continue to receive the phone directories. It’s despicable that we are breathing additional pollution every day that trees could be absorbing were they not being needlessly cut down to print phone directories for people who have expressly opted out of receiving them!

  17. Another Disgusted Homeowner

    I just found a Real Yellow Pages phone book frozen in the snow and ice next to my mailbox. The yahoos can’t put it IN the mailbox because that would be tampering with the U.S. mail, but for some reason they can throw it in my yard. I’d like very much to find out where these people are based in my area and take their Real Yellow Pages Spam, hand-deliver it to them, and throw it at THEIR door. Yeah, sure, I could just toss it in the recycling bin — but why do I have to spend MY time and MY recycling bin space on something that was THROWN into my yard? If my neighbor’s dog craps in my yard, I don’t go out and clean it up myself — it’s not supposed to be there, I didn’t ask for it, and it’s his responsibility to dispose of it (and to make sure it is never put there again). The Real Yellow Pages are no different.

  18. Mike Hunt

    I’ve always hated getting these. I mean it’s 2016. With Google and Yelp WTF still uses these worthless phone books? At 7:00 AM this morning some inconsiderate jackass just cut through my freshly mowed yard (leaving footprints) to “deliver” this useless piece of garbage. He actually threw it from the middle of the yard to the front stoop by the door which made a loud thud and woke up my family members sleeping directly above. As some previous posters have stated: To opt out just create a Gmail account to use only for opt out purposes and supply your real mailing address. All other fields can have bogus information because they aren’t verified. After logging in you can always change that later.

  19. patricia zona

    And, I agree with almost everyone on this reply. I can’t believe, I’m wasting my time responding trying to stop another phone book. I have enough. Put your energy and time in work that is worthwhile and productive–not repeating the same old patterns…

  20. Linda Kestner

    Yellowbook now sends a letter in the mail saying they know I’ve opted out BUT “your address falls on a mailed route and postal regulations prevent us from stopping delivery of our phone book”. So, unless I have a P.O. Box, guess they are unable to honor my request to opt out? Sure enough, today’s mail was a new and unwanted Yellowbook.

  21. Kenneth Haag

    To All and Some: Here’s the source of the latest delivery of Yellow Pages: it’s a company called Hibü. Write to them (or send junk) c/o Directory, 6300 C Street SW, Cedar Rapids, IA 52404

  22. James Moore

    Is, as many have said, BULLSHIT that I should have to give you my personal information to opt out ;I never asked for your books, but you would sell the information to someone and I will receive even more garbage in the mail. I would ask: doesn’t your gigantic BOD have any moral compass AT ALL? The answer is obvious: more profit, more 2nd homes and motorboats for the rich guys. Do you wonder why the average person is enraged over the corporate world?


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