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Why Yellow Pages industry members are suing the city of Seattle | Seattle Times Newspaper

July 12, 2011

Opinion | Why Yellow Pages industry members are suing the city of Seattle | Seattle Times Newspaper.

There is an interesting little law-suit going on in the Democratic People’s Republic of Seattle right now that most of us in “the rest of America” aren’t aware of.  See, the city council of Seattle has decided that the free Yellow Pages you get on your door-step are evil and have created an “opt-out” city government website for residents to notify big brother they don’t want the large yellow nuisances anymore.  If Dex One (the company who distributes the Yellow Pages in Seattle) gives a Yellow Pages to someone who has chosen to opt-out, it’s a $125 fine.

On its face it seems like a good idea right?  I mean, I never use my Yellow Pages unless the power is out.  Or the internet is down.  Or I want to see a menu for a restaurant.  Besides that, I hate the big books that I get for free.  They are killing the planet!

Plus, according to people who don’t know what they are talking about, no one uses them anymore.  This can be evidenced by the brilliant comments responding to this opinion piece at the Seattle Times, like this one from some dude named jkaps:

7 in 10 have used a phone book recently? Not buying that. I know no one except my 70 year old mom that has used a yellow pages in the past 5 years. Drop your suit Neg, your opt out site is a pain and your product is worthless.

The 7 in 10 he is referring to is an industry statistic quote in the piece, “Another misperception fueling this ordinance is that no one uses phone books. Burke researchers say seven out of 10 adults use print Yellow Pages, and eight out of 10 users plan to make a purchase.”

The only thing I have to say to jkaps is, if only you were this skeptical of climate science!  Like the “scientists” in the global warming charade, the printers and distributors of Yellow Pages are in it to make money, it behooves them to know who is reading and using their product.  Here is another “yellow-pages denier” commenting, named toejam99:

Printed directory listings are going the way of the rotary phone and the switchboard operator. If you asked people under age 30 about their usage of such listings, it would be far lower than 7 out of 10. This is simply a dying business that is thrashing around as it makes its way to obsolescence.

Apparently laws are only created for the under-30 crowd?

This is a common occurrence in our country with regards to the creation of local laws and ordinances – an individual only thinks of their current station in life and assumes it must extend to everyone else.  Many of the comments reference a “tech-savvy” Seattle as if everyone owns a computer, Ipad and Iphone in that city.  I assure you that is not the case, as jkaps alludes to in the first quote, stating that the only person he knows who has used a Yellow Pages is his 70-year-old mom – nice to know he doesn’t feel his mom should have a directory to reference for services.

As statistics show, Seattle might actually be more “tech-savvy” than other cities, with 75% of households having access to some sort of internet, but only 35% of people over 65 use that service in any given month.  Of course, that leaves 25% of the population a little screwed if the assault on Yellow Page distribution were to continue and the 65% of seniors who are not as “tech-savvy” as their bratty offspring.

A lot of commentors are suggesting an “opt-in” solution, whereby if you want a yellow pages, you get on the internet and tell the company so.  Obviously, given the stats, if you don’t even have internet, that solution would totally screw you.

I have no skin in this game, and I don’t really have a problem with local government doing its thing – what I have a problem with is people thinking they know how businesses operate and suggesting they use faulty data or faulty logic to defend their business model.  Many companies go out of business because they fail to see a fault in their operations, I am not suggesting companies are infallible, but I am saying that I defer to people who have a monetary stake in the issue to at least be more diligent in their data collection to someone who is just trying to get rid of a “nuisance”.

The sheer number of advertisers paying for inclusion in a Yellow Pages should be obvious to anyone that the medium is NOT obsolete, unless we are to believe companies just love to waste money.  Even with economies of scale taken into account, the printing of a single Yellow Pages book has got to be a relatively expensive endeavour, one they wouldn’t do unless they were making money off the printing, obviously they are or they wouldn’t do it (this ain’t government, they actually need to have positive results to stay in business).

People need to think things through before they knee-jerk support ANY legislation their government proposes.  There are always winners and losers in any law nowadays, in this case, its poor people and old people.  Not a stance you would expect from the liberal stronghold of Seattle…yeah, and I’m a Chinese Jet-pilot.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. July 12, 2011 1:58 pm

    This reminds me of the bubble during the nineties when everyone assumed print was dead.

    Well, it aint. Not by a long shot.

    oh, and Seattle is a cesspool saved only by the fact the Peoples Republic of Seattle is still not San Francisco.

    • July 12, 2011 2:38 pm

      Yeah, people are pretty ignorant when it comes to their worldview. “I don’t read the newspaper anymore, thus it will be dead in a few years.” Except for my Kindle, I have yet to find an electronic medium that is easier to read than the actual printed word. Computers suck to read at. As technology progresses, more and more devices will be created that will bite into the printed word’s market share, but it will be a LONG time before it is obsolete.

  2. July 12, 2011 2:54 pm

    People get tons of junk mail. But somebody is making money off of it and people are employed in the production and distribution of it. The Yellow Pages is the same type of thing. what are we going to do? Shut down all businesses that “we” don’t use? Give me a brake.

    • July 12, 2011 11:30 pm

      Like I said, I don’t mind local governments passing laws, that’s the way the system is supposed to work. I just hate the morons that don’t look into an issue before assuming a law is “good” or not. That’s why we have 85,000 Federal regulations now, not to mention all the state and local ones. People don’t think about the big picture, only their little slice of the world.

  3. July 13, 2011 1:55 am

    In SF everyone is Opt-Out unless you Opt-In.

    • July 13, 2011 3:09 pm

      I assume you can call them to opt-in? Wonder how you get the phone number?

  4. Otis P. Driftwood permalink
    July 13, 2011 5:24 pm

    I feel like such a dinosaur – I used the Yellow Pages just yesterday. Little did I know that I was behind the times. A while back my local newspaper included a Yellow Pages CD in an issue, for my home town (Jacksonville, FL), but I find it is just as fast to look it up in the book as it does to look it up on my PC.

    • July 14, 2011 5:52 am

      Yeah, I use it to. I don’t like the results I typically get online.

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