OMG. You won’t believe what happened Friday. I still don’t believe it myself. Here’s the story.
After hassling with Valley Yellow Pages (not to be confused with AT&T Yellow Pages) last year to be taken off their automatic delivery list, I was finally assured that I would no longer receive their unwanted plastic-bagged phone books. So you can imagine how irritated I was when a new one showed up on my doorstep last week.
Immediately, I sent the following caustic email. I was irritated and probably hormonal. I usually prefer to catch my flies with sugar, despite being a mosquito in their bedrooms. But hey, no one’s perfect.
From: Beth Terry
To: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Date: Thu, Feb 18, 2010 at 12:57 PM
Subject: Re: Re: Please stop delivering directories to me
Dear Valley Yellow Pages,
In April 2009, I opted out of the Valley Yellow Pages. As you can see from the response below, I was assured by Sue Shoemaker that I would be opted out from any future directories. And yet I just received another one. In a PLASTIC BAG!
I do not want it. EVER. In fact, I would like you to send someone over here to pick this one up. Since you have not kept your promise not to send it to me anymore, I would appreciate if you would fix this problem and take this unwanted, unsolicited junk mail off my hands.
It is NOT acceptable to tell residents that they must opt out every year. You know that no one will remember to do it. This is your way of greenwashing your book, when in reality is appears that you have no intention of opting anyone out.
Sending unwanted paper and plastic to people who don’t want it is an incredible waste of resources and is hard on our environment. Please stop. And please come and pick up this book.
I am cc’ing this message to the California Product Stewardship Council.
So, um, the following day? A guy shows up at my door and says, “I’m here to pick up a phone book.”
“Are you from Valley Yellow Pages?” I asked.
“Yeah. Do you have a phone book for me?”
Holy crap. I never thought anyone would really come. The phone book was still sitting on the shelf inside the front door, but I’d already stuck the plastic bag in with my collection for February. I ran to go get it and then handed the guy both book and bag and watched as he trotted away. It was as if the whole delivery had never happened.
So Valley Yellow Pages, I will give you props for sending someone to come and fix your mistake, and I am sorry I was mean.
Nevertheless, you have to change your policy to let people opt IN for the phone book instead of delivering it automatically. Your opt out page reads,
** Please note – Your Opt-Out request must be submitted annually at least 8 weeks prior to the distribution of your areas directory. To review our distribution schedule click here.
But see, that’s not good enough. First of all, most people won’t ever see your opt-out policy. And second, even if they do, who’s going to remember to call every year to opt out? Most people are not as tenacious as I am, nor do they have time to keep on top of what phone books are delivered to them. I’m sure there are some residents who still want the phone book, but quite a few will just throw it out, opting for the Internet version instead. What a waste of resources.
Just so you know, I’m supporting several efforts to help prevent unwanted phone books like yours from being delivered in the future.
First, California Senator Leland Yee has just introduced legislation (SB 920) to prohibit telephone companies from delivering the white pages unless the customer opts-in to receiving it. I’m all for that bill and will do whatever I can to help it gets passed. But SB 920 only applies to the white pages. So,
Second, I am joining the Yellow Pages Goes Green campaign to allow residents to opt out of unwanted phone books. Valley Yellow Pages, I hope that you will honor all opt-out requests from this organization.
Finally, I’m urging all Fake Plastic Fish readers to take action against unwanted, unsolicited deliveries of phone books or junk mail or door hangers, or anything else. I’m asking them to call or write you and your friends to complain. Raise a ruckus. But also? To be nice. See, I don’t believe you guys are trying to irritate us on purpose. But if we don’t speak up, how will you know?
Feb 2011 Update: It is now easier than ever to opt out of all Yellow Pages directories. Visit http://www.yellowpagesoptout.com/ to manage your Yellow Pages delivery options.