Well today I talked with Mr. Neg Norton, the president of the Yellow Pages Association which represents 158 phone book companies, and he explained that opting out is actually good for business.
"We have absolutely no interest in delivering directories to people who don't want them. It just irritates the consumers, irritates the environmentalists and doesn't do anything for our advertisers," says Norton. "If we deliver a phone book to someone who just throws it out, it just increases our cost." That surprised me, seeing as a study in Oregon showed that 80 percent of phone books wind up in the trash.
Even though there were so many people trying to opt out of the Yellow Pages that it overloaded the website's servers on the day the site launched, Norton says he does not anticipate laying off any delivery people. "When you think about it, it actually makes their jobs more important and complicated. Now they have to go down a street and say okay, 'This person gets no directories, this person gets two directories.'"
On the other hand, they're only in favor of the population opting-out up to a certain point: Norton is adamantly against Oregon's proposed law to make phone book delivery opt-in statewide. "We think that's very anti-small business. Anything as dramatic as opt-in really hurts small businesses ability to market themselves," says Norton.