While unpacking three years ago, I realized, sadly, that I had moved approximately 10 pounds of smudgy Yellow Pages from Chicago to Minneapolis. But I just felt bad tossing them out – such a waste.
I got over it immediately when 10 new pounds showed up at my front door here. Year after year the only time I look in, look at or look for the Yellow Pages is when I replace them with the new ones. So I jumped at the chance to find out if there was some way to stop them from coming all together.
Let your fingers do the walking
Here are the numbers that should work to opt out of receiving the Yellow Pages – at least from these three companies. If you need to check on which Yellow Page companies deliver to your area, start at www.yellowpagesoptout.com.
Yellow Book USA, Inc.
R.H. Donnelley / Dex
I started by following a lead suggested in a story in The Deets, and going to www.yellowpagesoptout.com. The site is run by an association of yellow page providers. By entering my South Minneapolis zip code, I got a list of the three companies that supply books for my area.
After years of pulling my hair out during calls to Comcast, where I could never reach a person and my problem didn’t fall into any of the categories provided, I decided to start my opting-out odyssey with Dex, the company I thought would be easiest.
My first visit to the Dex website pretty much set the tone for the rest of my research. There is nowhere on the Dex site (that I can find, and I really looked long and hard) to opt out of getting the yellow pages. It is possible that there used to be, because several blog posts I read mentioned that there was, but there isn’t anymore. I could choose between several supplemental versions of the book to be delivered to my home, or I could get information about how to recycle the book I had, or would get, but no way to prevent one from coming.
Frustrated, I tried making phone calls, starting at the top of my list. Which is how I learned my second important lesson: you cannot opt out of the yellow pages on the weekend.
Monday morning I tried again.
I started again with Dex because I was still holding out hope that they would make it nice and easy. I called the number and I talked to a person. He took my name, phone number and address, then said he would add me to their do not deliver list. He was about to hang up when I asked when the book usually comes out, so I could tell if I didn’t get it. He told me May or June was their delivery time and to have a nice day.
Quite satisfied that things were looking up, I moved on to Idearc Inc. I followed their prompt suggestion and pressed two which connected my directly with someone who could help me – sort of.
I explained that I didn’t want to get the phone book anymore and the customer service representative tried to talk me out of it, insisting that it was a bad idea and I would be sorry.
He pointed out that even though the computer is convenient a way to get information – what would happen if the power went out and I realized that a pipe had burst in the basement? Then I would be glad to have the Yellow Pages! I told him that I lived in a building where I would never be the one making those calls.
Then he tried another tack: what if people drop by and I need to order a pizza? I told him that, since he asked, I have junk mail from several pizza places filling a drawer in my kitchen, so I’m not that worried about it. And, if he could help, I would like to stop that junk mail from coming, too. He moved on to my potential need for car repairs, and I told him that, actually, I get around by bus.
Which is when he gave up. He took my name, address and phone number, checking several times to make sure he got those right. He also took my email address so that he could send an email when they did the deliveries next October, to confirm that they had honored my request and passed me up.
I was a little surprised by how hard he fought to keep me on the list. But the double checking he did on details of my information made me realize that the first guy hadn’t even asked me to spell my last name or taken my apartment number. I’m starting to think that one might not stick.
One more name on my list: Yellow Book USA. The first time I called, I followed their prompt suggestion and pressed one. I learned in short order that I was connected to someone who could neither help me to opt out, nor connect me to someone who could.
I hung up and started over, this time selecting prompt three. It connected me directly to a woman who could help. She didn’t argue, but just took my name, phone number and address. She offered me a confirmation number for my request and told me that it was good for two years. After that, she explained, they will send me a postcard to confirm that I still reside at the same address and asking if I want to continue opting out or would like to again receive their book.
I did a little more fishing on the web and found several sites that offer to contact direct mailers, like the yellow pages, and stop their service. But on the websites of each of the providers I called, they had strict declarations that they never accept opt out requests from third parties.
Even though it took a little time and frustration, making the phone calls was the best thing I could do to try to stop the yellow pages from being delivered to me again. Of course, I can’t tell yet if it worked (and I have a funny feeling that the Dex guy wasn’t very serious.)