Yellow Pages Publishers Sue Seattle Over Phone Book Ordinance


Their main lawyer's Dave Burman, who a little bird tells me doesn't usually fuck around. This could be interesting.
Phonebooks are the new buggy whips.
Gus, as I've said many times before, given the Supreme Court's current position on corporate speech, this will not only be "interesting," it will more than likely be successful.
@3: And given the average Seattle resident's opinion on the yellow pages and Citizens United, it won't get particularly interesting until after the case plays out.
If it's not in the interest of the yellow pages folks to deliver to folks who don't want them, then why did I just get one? If they had given me a prominently displayed opt-out link, I would have gone there, but no. So this law is a slam dunk as far as I'm concerned.
We're looking at the complete death of an industry. Of course they're going to fight tooth and nail to save their own lives. But it's inevitable.
I've probably said this here before, but if you really want to see them go away—and I don't necessarily, just wish they'd stop dumping 50lbs of their recycling on my building's steps—maybe someone should just audit their actual circulation (no longer count dumped, unclaimed units, like in the rest of the publishing world). Their ad space probably wouldn't be worth the paper its printed on.

If they violate the opt out, scratch out your name and address, put "Return to Sender" and drop it in a mail box. When they get a few hundred thousand of them back...well.
Where can I go to opt out of these useless chunks of paper?
My parents would be upset if they stopped getting a phone book. Of course they're in their 60s, and they've gotten a phone book every year of their adult life. I don't know that anyone 30 and under would want a phone book nowadays, but people over a certain age should still receive them. Someone who is 90 years old is not going to jump on yelp to find something -- they use the good old codex telephonus.
It's not like the council woke up one morning & decided to burn the phone book industry at the stake. The council is acting on complaints from people. A few years ago, if you complained to the city, they'd tell you to call the company and ask to be left off the delivery list. Since the companies didn't comply, the council took some action with a monitored opt out list.
Such pests.
I love how they are complaining that they can't deliver to people WHO SAY THEY DON'T WANT IT. If their own opt-out system is so effective, why are they complaining about an alternative?

By the way, I just went to their national opt-out site, and the link they gave me for opting out of the local "Dex" only has options for signing up, and none for opting out.

5280 is probably right. But then again, how is this any less constitutional than the national No-Call registry?
So, if there's some sort of license to leave piles of printed matter around, I assume The Stranger will sign up for that, right? Because your business model isn't a whole lot different, really.
How do I get on the opt-out list?
Andy @6... sounds about right.

Bailo @8... For once, you might be on to something ("Sun shines on a dog's ass every once in a while" was how my grandfather would phrase it).

Usually I don't advocate punishing 'B' because I'm pissed off at 'A', but in this case, I would make an exception. The junk mail I get through the USPS over one year far outweighs the phone books I get. Maybe this would kill two birds with one stone. Back @6 for the full circle on dying businesses.
Fnarf, the Stranger does not dump their papers on my front porch against my wishes. The Stranger is completely opt-in. I can choose to go get one at a newsstand, or not.

The Yellow Pages can probably make a free speech argument for printing their phone books. But I don't see how you can possibly claim that you have a constitutional right to dump them on my door step against my wishes.

Fuck off, yellow pages.
Fnarf... the independent weekly rags don't leave them at my house to dispose of if I don't want them.
Yah... RP beat me to it.
@13: Distribution of The Stranger and most papers is upon request and all newspaper boxes are heavily regulated by SDOT and the SMC with permits required in a lot of cases.
Oh, and "it is not in our interest to deliver phone books to those who didn't want them" is a bald-faced lie.

Yellow pages make ALL of their money by charging hefty fees to the businesses listed in them. The fees they charge are based entirely on the circulation numbers. They can charge businesses more if they can claim to deliver 1,000,000 phone books than if they only deliver 200,000 phone books.

They have every incentive in the world to inflate their distribution numbers as much as possible: $$$$!
They make very poor toilet paper. Too rough, too much ink that rubs off too easily.

Straight to the dump.
Fucking Luddites.
So YPs has a 1st amendment right to tresspass on my property and dump shit there? Good to know where to take my excess trash, Yellow Pages' corporate offices.

@9 and @14

the stranger published the link to where to go to opt-out above with this hyperlinked phrase "opt-out service". while i understand that may not be clear enough for you here is the full URL -…

if you need someone to wipe your ass for you though, you'll have to ask someone else.
i just went through the yellow pages association's "opt-out" procedure.

1) it takes you to a list of the four potential phone book companies that will leave a small tree's worth of paper on your front porch. one of which doesn't do online opt-out; you have to call them.
2) as @12 said, dex's opt-out is a little misleading in that it appears as though one is ordering a phone book. in actuality they want you to select '0' to indicate opt-out. why they don't have a separate, dedicated opt-out site i don't know
3) of the three phone book companies that allow you to opt-out online, all require you to give your phone number with a disclaimer that missing or incorrect information will invalidate your opt-out request.

so if you have an unlisted, mobile number (that wouldn't show up in the yellow pages anyway - non-business numbers are listed in the white pages) you need to give it to these companies so they can then add you to their phone spam list. if you give them the wrong number, because you don't trust what they'll do with your real number, you give up your right to opt-out.

while i think phone books should be opt-in, i'd be fine if a state-run opt-out directory was formed. much like the national 'do not call' registry one would go online, enter their address, click 'enter' and your address is on the list NOT to get a phone book. no need to give any other information. the phone book companies would access the list before sending out their delivery crews to determine who shouldn't get a book. and if you do get a phone book and your address is on the list, you call an 800 number and report the company and they get fined. simple.
@25, thank you for that elucidation on the exact failures of the opt-out procedure.

You forgot: I don't have a phone number, they just dump off a bunch of books in our condo/apt lobby, more books than residences, actually.

F these people.
Get some facts straight. Dex phone books are made of 100% post consumer materials. No trees are cut down to produce the Dex phone book. The companies that DO cut down the trees IE: furniture manufactoring compines, provide their left over material to be used and added to recycled paper to create the phone book. In addition, all distribution numbers are independently audited. They are never inflated. Ad prices are based on references to the product and - again are from independently audited, third party sources. You would be amazed at how many people actually do use the YP to find a service. To your points, its not used as much, there is a blending of where people get the reference, and the product sits for 90% of its life. But when its picked up and used, its used. The point about "it does us no good to send books to those who don't want them" is valid..those that don't want them, don't reference them anyway, so its a moot point...where there really needs to be a change is to eliminate the White Pages product. PLUS - and this is can not tell me that every single advertiser in the product is blindly giving money to the publisher. There is a reason why there are businesses willing to pay to be in the product. People still use it and the business folks make money which helps YOUR local economy. Finally...and pay attentention..this is NOT for all on this site...but people that do not use the product, and are vocal about not using the product are not the group advertisers are trying to attract by advertising in the YP. There is a reason there are so many advertisng options out there today. The group of folks 18-24 that use digital search more than print YP have no money per se. They don't have families yet or homes that need plumbing, ac, landscaping. They typically don't need an attorney or chiropractor, etc...just an opposing thought...
@27 - You're right that the yellow pages isn't the Stranger's demo—replete with young singles, renters, etc. Slog's pages are bound to be filled with an above-average level of YP ire. I think the crux of the issue isn't necessarily the YP's usefulness, or the perceived environmental issues, but rather what had come to be little more than a nuisance with seemingly no solution. It's like being fliered—even though you already shook your head at the dude—while you sleep, and the flier weighs 50lbs, .

"In addition, all distribution numbers are independently audited. They are never inflated."

I have a hard time with the above quote. Of the aforementioned demo, how many bring the books up from their building's lobby to their apartment? 5%? How many of those books are considered in circulation? What is the methodology? (sorry to be hung up on this point, but I've always been curious about this.)
All books delivered to an actual point whether it be the driveway of a fixed home, an office complex or apartment high rise are counted in the circulation numbers. It is true that there are places all over the US (and abroad..I have done this 26 years on 3 continents) that do not take the books up. But lets be fair. Its easy to get caught up in "in my building...I don't, nor do my friends use...there are a million people and buildings in any given metro market...lots of folks and places. Not everyone is alike. It is true that at one point in time the ad's (like newspapers and magazines) were priced according to circulation. Many publishers saw that this was not the best way to go about things because of some distrubtion issues like have been(and this is not new...I was the Distrubution manager for South America at one time and even back then and over there, we had this issue)So they started pricing based on references somewhat like TV and Radio do with the listeners and viewers.Now with the digital search options, there is a trend towards blending references between all sources. Pricing is trending towards ROI, Pay per call, Guaranteed Actions, etc. Placing print, mobile, search, etc. all together on one platform to drive leads and actions.
And I am sorry, I did not answer your question fully...Methodology.
Distrubution numbers are based primarily on history. Data is secured based on population growth/decline, ect. Large users (a university I know of used to get 30,000 books, now they get 1000 and use an intranet system - counts as 1000 books delivered but with the potential of 30,000 users) are called to see how many they want the upcoming year. For apartment complexes for example, the delivery team has an "order" for "X" number of books to the complex. The complex determines where the books are placed (to be sure this is most of the time and individual places can be different) but by and large, the delivery is based on what happened the previous years. An owner/manager or occupant can always tell the delivery person they do not want the books, they only want x amount of books this year, etc. Some publishers use a GPS tracking system to determine the delivery of the books. Then all the route orders are gathered and a reconcilliation takes place. Surveys are made and an audit is conducted to get the final delivery numbers. Like I said there are many one offs, but mainly this is how its done. The biggest number one complaint I hear is not that the majority of people Don't want a book, its that they don't want so dang many of them...
my understanding from what i've read is there will be a NEW up-graded national YP Opt Out system available the beginning of the year from the YPA. I would assume obviously that each request to opt out would request a contact phone number by the party opting out in order verify & confirm by phone the information they've received is in fact accuate.