Isn’t this an usually twist in the effort be more eco-oriented.
AT&T is among several telephone companies that have been asking the local Public Service Commission’s (PSC) which regulate the utilities for a change to regulations with REQUIRE them to send all home-telephone customers a new White Pages every year. The change would end the annual “automatic delivery” of residential white pages each year. Instead residents would need to ask for them. The change makes a lot of sense as the white pages phone books are not being used as frequently as they once were with the availability of operator assisted/411 type services and online directories. You would also think that such a move should please those paper book haters who believe any directory is a source of waste.
The interesting turn is that the AARP in Florida is now fighting such a change in Florida (link to article) saying that:
“The White Pages contain important contact information, such as phone numbers for doctors’ offices and pharmacies,” says Leslie Spencer, AARP Florida Associate State Director for Advocacy. “It’s one thing to say that anyone can find the same information online. But it’s another for some people to actually find information online as easily as they can find it in a phone book.”
Some people – particularly Floridians of modest means – may not have Internet access, she adds.
So finding information online isn’t always easy? Really?
This isn’t the first time an issue like this has come up before. We commented back in July of 2009, that when a similar measure was implemented in Cleveland, AT&T’s customer service lines were flooded with callers who wanted a book. That blog really twisted the knickers of the paper haters as you can see in the comments area for that blog.
So now will those same paper haters boycott AARP??? Grandma will not be happy….
AT&T through its Southwestern Bell Telephone Company (company name it still operates under in the state of Missouri) has filed for permission with Missouri regulators to stop delivering the residential white pages book to homes in the Kansas City and St. Louis areas…
AT&T noted as it has in other markets where they and other publishers have filed similar requests (here and here) customers are not using the printed white pages as much to find telephone numbers. Instead, other methods including using the Internet are preferred. If approved, the phone company will mail a copy to customers that request one. The Yellow Pages will continue to be published and will include business white pages as of now.
The changes are not final yet — the Missouri Public Service Commission still has to approve the request.
Channel 5 – WLWT in Cincinnati reports that Cincinnati Bell has asked the Public Utilities Commission in Ohio for a waiver to cease the required annual devliver of the printed White Pages to each residential customer.
This 1950’s era regulatory requirement made sense in the pre-Internet days when the Telco was the only source for numbers in the local area. But attempts by publishers in several areas to discontinue this archaic practice have been met with resistance from local regulatory groups. Most recently AT&T attempt to make this change in North Carolina and met significant resistance (source). Most commissions view it as some kind of back door opportunity for the Telco to raise 411 – directory assistance rates, even though the changes have been supported by government recycling authorities. In most markets in Canada, Yellow Pages Group is on a biennial distribution schedule for its residential white pages.
The value of commerce generate by the printed Yellow Pages is not the question here. It is the value of printed residential white pages which do largely go unused. I think the industry and consumers can gladly come together to support these type changes in every jurisdiction which still requires it.