Phone books = freedom of speech? wtf?

I realize that there are a lot of crazy things in the news this week and that this may seem trivial, however it’s a real pet peeve of mine, so I just have to write about this.

You see, In my household and all across my neighborhood there’s been a running battle to get the people who deliver the phone books to stop delivering them. I’ve called number after number, year after year, I’ve been assured they only deliver to people who want them, despite the fact that I don’t want them and keep getting them. I’ve even tried to stop the actual person dropping off the book in my yard, only to be told they are required to leave it, and it isn’t their problem if I don’t want it.

According to
“Did you know that up to 5 million trees are cut down each year to create the white pages phone book and that taxpayers are spending $17 million each year to have these books recycled? ”

It’s not just phone books around here either. A local paper puts out a weekly coupon/ad supplement that also gets tossed into every yard, even after phone calls to the paper and neighborhood petitions to end this “service”.

From my standpoint, this is not only litter (it all goes straight to the recycling bin. I can’t recall the last time I actually used a phone book, hi internet!) it’s a public safety hazard. Books sit all afternoon in driveways, alerting those casing houses that no one is home. Circulars pile up in front of empty or foreclosed houses, only to later blow all over the neighborhood until the rain plasters them to a solid surface.

So when I read that Seattle had instituted a ban on companies just leaving phone books lying around unless someone specifically requests it, I was overjoyed. Go Seattle! Now bring that option here!

Except wait a minute. In what can only be described as an incredible case of hubris, the publishers of the Yellow Pages are actually SUING the city of Seattle, saying it is their right of free speech to distribute these books as they see fit.
“Dex Media West, SuperMedia LLC and the Yellow Pages Association claim in U.S. District Court in Seattle that the law passed by the City Council last month violates their First Amendment rights to free speech and will hurt them financially.”

Seriously? Free Speech? Oh Yellow Pages, how could you be so arrogant? You force a pile of dead tree onto me that I find morally reprehensible, then make me pay to get rid of it thru recycling fees. Yet somehow YOUR rights are being infringed when someone says that is not right? You should be ashamed.

Until someone at the phone company comes to their senses, if you’d like to add your voice and your address to the list of people opting out, you can hit up for more info and to sign a petition to make opt-in a national standard.


4 thoughts on “Phone books = freedom of speech? wtf?

  1. Those companies sounds ersatz. If you weren’t aware, deregulation a few years ago opened the yellow pages market up to “competition”, so it’s not just the phone company making these…and distribution wars happen, where rivals collect each other’s phone books and replace them on delivery day…etc. A request-only system will overwhelmingly favor the local phone company…no one knows to call these competitors, or how to reach them.

    I work for the AT&T Yellow Pages, and in most markets book delivery is by-request-only. I think Atlanta and other big markets are excepted right now, but they’ll eventually be phased in.

    • Yeah, I actually get 3 different sets of books, despite repeated calls to every number I can find. The problem is, “opt-out” means nothing, they don’t bother following it.

      • Not to sound like a pimp, but the competitor companies have no reason at all to honor cessation requests. AT&T, on the other hand, is more than a yellow-pages publisher…the advertising division is moving towards web and digital media, and they’re distributing by-request only in most markets to decrease publishing/printing costs (since the stats are clear and at this point not-reversible- fewer and fewer people use YP directories).

        Just saying. The competitors are more on a par with circular mass-marketing advertisers…and they operate on the same premise as email spammers: if you respond to them, that means you exist and you picked up their book, so they’ll send you 20 more.

      • AND, as with spammers, deterence legislation would probably have very limited effect on the competitor companies. There is *so* many areas of plausible deniability…

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