Please Stop Delivering The Phone Book To My House.


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I have not opened a phone book in over 3 years. In case the phone company did not realize it, the internet tends to have most information that people need and it is much easier to use than their gigantic yellow book. I am sure that most people use the internet now (well, other than my grandmother) to look up information that they need so the big yellow books are kind of a waste of paper. I think they should change their system for delivering these monsters to a “request-based” system instead of a “we will just throw thousands of these at everyone’s door” system. When I took mine out back to the recycling bin, there were already 9 of them in there from my neighbors. Multiply that times the amount of apartments and houses in my town that have thrown them away and you get a huge number. Multiply that times the entire country, and you have enough tree pulp to plant a new forest in every city in America. (*well, I would think so, but I did not do the math exactly…)

So how do you get the phone company to stop delivering the new phone book every year? First off, don’t think that because you don’t have home phone service that you automatically get taken off the list…cause you don’t. I have Vonage and thus no service from the phone company and I still get the book. Just an FYI. Secondly, the phone books themselves have nothing in them with a number to call to stop delivery; I guess they just assume that I want a free 50 pound book delivered to me every year that I have to haul out back the minute I get it. The only thing I could find after searching for some information online was a place called The Directory Store, which seems to be a clearing house for phone books all over the country. Again, there was no place to just fill out a form to stop delivery, but they do have phone numbers to call…but not for stopping delivery either. Anyway, I am going to attempt to call these numbers this week and see what it takes to remove me from the phone book delivery list, but I am sure it is no easy task.

Please… phone companies… save some trees and some cash by making people opt-in to receive the phone book. I mean it when I say that I have not used the books in years and most people I know haven’t either. But if you cannot do that, can you at least give us an option to stop receiving the books?

And if anyone out there knows of a sure-fire way to stop the deliveries, I would love to hear about it!

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  1. I cannot believe advertisers actually still pay to be in it…I would think that throwing my money on the ground with my company named typed on it would be more beneficial to them!

  2. The problem is that this would ruin their revenue model. They make money on those books by selling ads, who’s value is determined by the size of distribution. Allowing people to opt out (or requiring them to opt in) would just reduce that circulation number and then they wouldn’t make as much money off the ads.

    I don’t see this changing until the advertisers conclude that their money is better spent elsewhere. As soon as these companies are loosing money on each phone book, they’ll disappear nice and quick.

  3. I think it’s a great idea. I’m going to call our telephone company and find out whether I can opt-out of receiving the book, and call the Yellow pages and Thomson Directory too. If they don’t allow it, perhaps a campaign is in order.

  4. I don’t think you can opt-out. I’m sure a guy is payed to drop off a phone book to every house on your street. I don’t believe there is a “list” per se, maybe a list of streets.

  5. I live in a rural area where the primary means of getting on the Internet is through a dialup ISP (yes, these places still exist). So, in the case of my area, phone books are still a viable alternative to the internet. Both of my parents own businesses and they both advertise in the phone book. They also advertise online. However, when we survey our customers as to where they heard about us, the phone book wins by a large margin.

    Even in places where broadband is everywhere, theres still a huge chunk of the population that looks for their phone books when they want a service. In fact, at my university, I received no less than 3 phone books in one year.

    The days of the phone book are clearly numbered, but they still have about a decade left in them. They’ll go the way of the Sears catalog soon enough.

    The first poster explained why your opt-out/opt-in idea wouldn’t work for the phone companies.

    Some apartment complexes do have something resembling an opt-in system where they put a huge stack near the entrance and let anyone who wants one take one.

  6. In addition to everyone else’s comments, I don’t think calling the phone company will help (is that ever a viable solution?)

    I don’t think that the phone company actually publishes the books, and that’s why you get 7 of them. There are many companies competing.

  7. All very valuable comments everyone! I still think the best way to reduce the waste and save people money is an “opt-in” system where you can either receive or not receive the phone book. Like I said, most people in my building already disposed of theirs out back.

    I do understand that in some rural areas it might be the only way to get information, but again…”opt-in” would work here!

  8. I still use the phonebook since we don’t keep a computer wired to the internet on the main floor only the furthest top and basement. Yes the internet could easily replace it but sometimes it is nice to have cause when the next year comes around you suddenly have a monitor prop, fire kindeling, etc, etc.

  9. I very much like this idea. I also get a lot of catalogs and flyers in the mail advertising products and services. For example, all the local grocery stores send me a circular every week. I would like those all to be opt-in as well. Also, I get alot of e-mail spam for things like viagra and watches. Sending those e-mails to me obviously takes alot of electricity. It would be a big savings for everyone if those were opt-in as well. I also occationally drive by billboards on the sides of the road. I don’t like seeing those, and they obviously cost alot of money and resources to put up. How about I just call the advertisers when I want to see things like that?

  10. Good idea Johnny, but sending them back won’t do a thing other than cost us all a fortune in postage. I am going to work with someone on creating something we can all do very easily.


  11. I work at a dealer location for my phone company (Manitoba Telecom System, or MTS) and the way it works here is we order phone books, and anyone in the community who wants one can come grab one. No door to door delivery, and no one getting books they don’t want.

    I, however, still do not like phone books. Not just because people waste my time asking where the phone books are, only for me to direct them to the large cabinet labeled “PHONE BOOKS”. That’s how I feel though, I never use a phone book because I got off a 56k connection over 6 years ago, and I find they just waste space and paper.

  12. That’s how it should be Doug! I think I am going to work on organizing something to start a movement on getting rid of automatic delivery of these books as most people do not even use them.

    Thanks everyone for the great comments!

  13. Plenty of people still use the phone book, and advertising in it as a business is still very effective, otherwise businesses wouldn’t advertise there, think about it.

    Phone companies and independent publishers (Like Yellowbook) are getting a stronger presence online as they transition, but don’t look for the book to be going away any time soon.

    Having an “opt-out” list would cost the company more than the money they save on printing (plus their “subscriber” number would go down.)

    If you don’t want the book, throw it away, rip it in half to impress your friends, use it as a doorstop, or whatever. The book isn’t going away any time soon.

  14. I spent 7 years at Bell Atlantic/Verizon Yellow Pages in directory advertising sales in NJ and PA.

    What a business! I started out in telephone sales handing customers who spent $2.50 per month up to $300 or so per month. Our job was to “run money”. What does this mean? Renew, renew, renew. See, when the customer keeps their ad the same, I got 10% of the monthly cost in commission.

    In the late 90s and early 2000’s the renew rate was 85-87%. So, you had to up-sell and sell new businesses and non advertisers to make any money. We got 125% of the increased monthly revenue and Verizon got the rest. Where do they make their money? Renewals. I sell a $500 per month ad and get $600 in commission this year, and next year I get $50? Yeah.

    So, when the yellow page rep calls you – they want to first upsell you on ANYTHING, then renew you to move on. Be vigilant with them – don’t trust their marketing numbers.

    For example in the Allentown area in PA, they hired Gallup to see how many people used the Verizon directory vs the competitor, who has a book, who actually uses it, etc. Well, the numbers got so bad a few years back – they stopped publishing the studies they spent thousands of dollars to have Gallup study. What are they using when they call you: OLD DATA.

    Lastly on the buyer beware line – if they automatically renewed your ad with a letter or never called and it just got renewed – you DO NOT HAVE TO PAY. Call the claims department and push until you get it free. If you want a free ad, send a certified letter to arrive on the last day of the advertising close date and tell them you wish to cancel. Chances are great they won’t call you and you have a claim.

    On the issue above – they are making BILLIONS off of the phone book and off of advertisers that keep it the same year after year because they don’t know what they are actually receiving. It will be an uphill battle to get them to opt-in or get an opt-out list. But all this green earth, you could get a senator or congressman who wants to get their name out there to sponsor a bill to eliminate killing millions of trees.

    /off soapbox/

  15. maybe we can organize a campaign to mail phone books back to the company headquarters in a coordinated fashion. or mail them to congress.

  16. it’s all well and good to use the internet instead of the phone book until the electricity goes out and you need to look up the number for the power company.

  17. My (retired) parents used to help a company deliver phone books for a little extra cash. They were given lists of streets they were required to deliver phone books to. There was no opt-out list and management would do spot checks to ensure that they hit every house.

    I hate to tell you this but you can forget about not receiving a phone book.

  18. I think anyone who doesn’t want a phone book delivered (myself included) should look up the local address for the company which delivered the book and then drive by their offices one morning and just leave the book on their porch.

    If enough people did this, I think the message might get through.

    Could you imagine if the workers at Embarq or SBC or whatever had to walk past piles of phone books outside their offices every morning?

    I mean, if it’s perfectly legal for them to hire folks to leave trash in your driveway, it ought to be legal to return the favor.

  19. Jesus people, get over it, seriously. I know you all like to think you can make a difference or whatever, but mailing phone books back to the company or leaving them on the doorsteps won’t do anything.

    The ones you mail back they can either redistribute or recycle, and if you leave them on the doorstep, no matter how many, the only person you’re affecting is the janitor. The people who make the decision won’t even notice you did it. Or care.

    You won’t make anyone change their minds.

  20. This is the way I feel about most of the stuff the government does “for me” – I don’t need it, I don’t want it, I don’t want to pay for it and they’re hurting the environment.

    Stop, just stop.

  21. I get 4 or 5 different phone books from different publishers every year. How’s that for waste? I send them out with the trash in the recycler bin the next day. Some are better than others, but I use the internet for looking up numbers anyway. The print books are nothing but advertising space.

  22. Just wanted to say hello.. stumbled across your page. I don’t use phone books either.. not with the internet.. should be obsolete by now..

  23. lavi d – that was my idea as well, but with a twist. Why drop off their phone book on their front door? I would drop off my weekly recycling on their front door. If they can do it, so can we.


  24. May I suggest a twist: Instead of dumping the phone books at the door step of the distributor, or the phone company, dump them at the biggest advertiser, with a cover letter explaining why. Something like: “I don’t have any use for phone books, and the phone company does not lett me opt out of getting one. By advertising in the phone book, you support this behavior. Please enjoy my copy.”

    Since phone books mostly exist to sell advertising space, making advertisers unhappy should be an effective way to lobby the publishers.

  25. I still use my phone book. Mainly because not everybody advertises on-line and my town doesn’t have a good online directory. Of course my phone book is also the government directory, and guide to local By-laws. None of the Chinese restaurants I order from have an online presence, but they do have their menus in the yellow pages. To each they’re own I’d say, but the book is hardly obsolete. An opt-out list would be good.

  26. The phone companies would be loosing money if they stopped publishing these monstrosities, because they get big bucks from the ads especially the full page ones.

  27. People who use phone book and do not have good access or habit of internet are least likly to offer their comments here. But out of some other experiences I am sure that print media has strengths far greater than electronic world.

  28. I called the phone company several times requesting to stop delivery of their phone books. I was assured each time that they would stop. When I received yet another one today, I called again. I asked the operator what the deal was and she said they pay a company to deliver their books and they give them a list of people who have opted out. She said they probably just ignore the list and deliver the books to everyone on the block. So, other than an executive order or a large sign in the yard that reads “NO PHONE BOOKS”, I don’t have much hope that they will ever stop harassing me. Maybe everyone should sue the bastards! Why not? It can’t be any less legitimate a claim than the judge who’s suing his cleaners over a pair of pants.

  29. 33 comments, thats great! Seems most people would like to do away with the phone books or at least make them available on an “opt-in” system. Hopefully I can figure out some way to make this known to the advertisers that and the phone companies, because it is obvious that it is a waste of ad dollars and paper. Thanks everyone!

  30. If someone puts unsolicited items on my front doorstep, isn’t that littering? It looks like this could be a “civil infraction” in Washington State, which carries a $50 maximum penalty.

    RCW 70.93.060
    Littering prohibited — Penalties — Litter cleanup restitution payment.
    (1) It is a violation of this section to abandon a junk vehicle upon any property. In addition, no person shall throw, drop, deposit, discard, or otherwise dispose of litter upon any public property in the state or upon private property in this state not owned by him or her or in the waters of this state whether from a vehicle or otherwise including but not limited to any public highway, public park, beach, campground, forest land, recreational area, trailer park, highway, road, street, or alley
    (2)(a) Except as provided in subsection (4) of this section, it is a class 3 civil infraction as provided in RCW 7.80.120 for a person to litter in an amount less than or equal to one cubic foot.

    RCW 7.80.120
    Monetary penalties ”” Restitution.
    (c) The maximum penalty and the default amount for a class 3 civil infraction shall be fifty dollars, not including statutory assessments;

  31. But if I dont want or need one, why cant I simply opt out of receiving one? I have not touched a phone book in years and years and would like to stop getting one. I just dont know why that is so hard to accomplish!

  32. OK, speaking from experience, local businesses are often hard to find without a phone book. Phone books have them arranged in categories, but search engines are not quite as helpful. Most small businesses (like restaurants) do not have websites so the only way to really find out about them is to look at their phone book ad. The phone numbers of some government offices and schools are sometimes difficult to find online as well. Also, computers are not always handy or operable when one needs to find a phone number. Like if the power is out, how are you to find the phone number of the power company without a phone book? The book is free, at least potentially useful, and recyclable, so why complain? At least it’s not made of plastic.

  33. Phone books have been around for at least 50 years. Amazingly, many people still use them because they are useful. There are many things that search engines cannot do like giving you the name of the business that can pave your driveway. I suspect that most of the people that find phone books useless are in the 20’s and do not own a house. I bet people will change their minds about phone books when they own a house and the pipes just broke. Good luck trying to find a good plumber on Google around your area that is opened 24 hours.

  34. The only way to make a difference is to actually force them to cut back on the phone books they are printing. Most people just don’t want to deal with it so they keep the phone books, throw them out, burn them….hopefully most at least recycle them but its all so wasteful. I move to Phoenix/Scottsdale, AZ 2 years ago. Last year I cleaned out my cupboard dedicated to the phone books I received and piled them up in the kitchen….they towered to the middle of the freeze door on the refridge. 13 telephone books for one year…I had Scottsdale, Greater Phoenix, etc. One from DEX, Verizon, YellowPages, a city book…you name it. To think that everyone gets that same number in the greater phoenix area is asinine……lets say that 25% still actually use all 13 books. So 75% are ending up in landfills or at recycling facilities. Scottsdale has roughly 275,000 people, Phoenix metro has ~3.5 million. Lets be conservative and say ~2.5 million receive the same 13 phone books I do every year. If 75% of people are not using those we end up with 1,875,000 times 13 phone books a year. That comes out to 24,375,000 phone books being printed, being distributed that are not being used. 24 million a year, just in on metro area of the country. How can anyone say that is not wasteful? If you just look at the pulp to print the paper on top of the energy and resources consumed to do so and then people distributing them by cars…eliminating those would make a difference. I am not sure why advertisers are no focusing more on electronic marketing on the phone companies sites or if its just the phone companies that are stubborn.

  35. I deliver the books for Yellow Pages (and make pretty good money on the side doing it). There’s nothing you can do about the books coming to your door unless there is an act of congress or local municipality declaring ALL junk mail and regular circulations illegal. They’re just another version of junk mail that has been done and re-done by many different companies out there.

  36. I’ve also been frustrated with having to deal with the plethora of phone books deposited at my doorstep. My life is filled with those little things that take time away from the more important pleasures of life and I’d rather not have to deal with them.

    Recently someone where I work sent out this list of places to get removed from receiving phone books. I’m hoping that calling them actually makes a difference.

    AT&T/YellowPages (formerly SBC and Bell South):

    Verizon (Idearc):


    Yellow Book:
    1.800.373.3280 or 1.800.373.2324

    Someone also suggested going to to petition against the phonebooks.

    I haven’t used a phonebook in almost 10 years and I receive about 5 each year.

  37. I have thought that the large phone books delivered about four times a year here are a waste of resources and I usually have them sitting in a drawer and then recycle them. I called my phone company, Embarq, and they directed me to the publisher and distributor of the phone books and I asked not to have any more books delivered. They took my name off the list, so we’ll see!

  38. Big deal. Go get your lazy ass up and throw them away then. Phone books are still really useful and not everybody has the internet or even knows how to use it. Phone books are great because they have coupon section in them. They also have the government pages. Try finding that online. Phonebooks also now have online websites so the same information is available whether you are looking online or need to use the phonebook.

  39. Wow! What an amazingly mature and profound response. I think you contradicted yourself in the last line. That is the point, the same information is available online. I don’t use one of the 13 phone books that gets dumped in my driveway, yard, front step every year so why can’t I request not to receive them? I don’t care if other people find them useful, feel free to keep receiving them. I for one don’t and its basically all about advertising dollars and “claimed” circulations numbers for the phone companys and their phone books. Its all business and the whole proces is wasteful and shows stereotypical american ignorance( we are for the most part one of the most wasteful countries in the world).

  40. Thanks Caleb, was going to write basically the same thing, appreciate it. “Throw them away”…yep, that’s the solution, as we sure don’t have enough trash yet!

  41. I called my phone company after finding this website. I asked not to be sent any more phone books. The guy was confused by my request but forwarded me onto the local (Las Vegas) company that prints and distributes the phone books. I repeated my request to another guy’s confusion and finally got my request taken seriously. We’ll see in a few months whether I really got taken off the distribution list.

  42. 15 years ago i was doing an internship in Ohio when the new phone books were delivered to the office. grant it they were only a 1/4 inch thick, but everyone was throwing the old ones away. i collected them and found a dairy farm that shreds them and uses the paper to line the stalls for the cows. it absorbs moisture and odor better than straw and cuts down on flies. not a perfect solution, but they didn’t end up directly in the landfill.

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