I’ve been trying to stop phone book deliveries for about half a decade, with limited success. Why? While phone directory companies do offer opt-out services, these services have tended to be unsatisfactory.

The main problem — as I’ve gathered from my years-long anti phone book crusade — seems to be that the independent contractors often hired to actually deliver the phone books are either 1) not given the list, or given an outdated list, of people who’ve opted out and thus don’t know which homes to skip, or 2) not adequately motivated (financially or otherwise) to check said list when making deliveries.

This meant that even when I went through the trouble of calling every phone directory maker or filling out all the web forms to opt out, I continued to get the directories dropped off — which in the end demoralized me from continuing this crusade.

So imagine my surprise when I got this voicemail after ignoring a call from a number I didn’t recognize this morning:

Hi this is Jordan with Supermedia, publisher and distributor of the Verizon Superpages. Our records indicate that you had requested to be removed from the delivery of our directories. We recently completed delivery throughout the neighborhood, and I am calling to ensure that your request was honored. If you did not receive a directory, there is no need to call me back. However, if you did receive a directory and would like to have it picked up, please call me at [number redacted], and I’ll be more than happy to arrange for pickup. Thanks, and have a great day.
I indeed have not received a directory from Verizon recently! It seems that the general anger and backlash against these phone books have been growing — forcing the phone book companies to finally deal with the opt-outers seriously. And I guess Verizon had kept my opt-out request on file all these years, even if the company didn’t actually honor that request until 2010.

So — I encourage everyone who doesn’t use phone books to take the time to opt out from getting future unwanted wads of paper. The task’s now easier than ever, now that Catalog Choice — the anti junk mail site created by environmental nonprofits that lets you stop junk mail at the source — has expanded to include phone books and lets you opt out of all of them on one website. Another website called Yellow Pages Goes Green offers a similar service, though it won’t help reduce your other junk mail.

If the phone book companies in your area are less vigilant about honoring their opt-out lists than Verizon is in my ‘hood, here’s a tip from Kathy Price-Robinson, formerly a blogger for L.A. Time’s home improvement blog, Pardon Our Dust:

I tacked a sign saying NO PHONE BOOKS on the post holding my mailbox, with an arrow pointing to the ground where the books are typically thrown, and the throwers indeed skip me.
Got more phone book avoidance tips? Share them in the comments.

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