If this post had a subtitle it would read: “While Seattle City Council Wastes Taxpayer Money, Local Search Association Sets the Record Straight”
The local media in Seattle, lead by the Seattle Times have announced the start of a new print phone directory opt-out ordnance and further reported grossly inaccurate facts (hello Times — Dex, Yellowbook and Superpages are NOT owned by the Association, they are members). Fortunately, the Local Search Association (formerly Yellow Page Association) has released the following statement to set the record straight:
Duplication and waste, inefficiency, lack of privacy guarantees and an array of other concerns characterize Seattle’s Yellow Pages opt-out website according to the Local Search Association, which manages a nationwide, industry-sponsored telephone directory opt-out program already available to Seattle residents through the www.yellowpagesoptout.com program.
“Seattle residents who believe that the city’s site will protect their privacy when removing themselves from yellow page delivery lists will be sadly mistaken,” said Neg Norton, president, Local Search Association. “We believe that the city’s redundant site is not necessary and is unfairly leading residents to believe it has spent the government’s time and the taxpayer’s money on something new, when this option has been available to residents all along via www.yellowpagesoptout.com.”
The official site, http://www.yellowpagesoptout.com, offers consumers a number of advantages including privacy protections that Seattle’s site does not provide, an easy to use interface, and the ability to stop delivery of both Yellow Pages and white pages phone books.
Comments on various blogs from supposed local residents have criticized the Association opt-out site because it asks for a phone number so publishers can verify future opt-out requests. The comments show a puzzling trend from a select group of people who believe the publishers/Association are going to share that information with telemarketers. Such comments are ridiculous as the industry already works with millions of telephone numbers each day with no privacy issues. And why would it further irate a small group of people who choose not to receive their print products? However, one cannot make the same claim about the city of Seattle. Since they are obviously in a revenue grab by taxing publishers, the next logical step in their efforts to balance their budget would be to market the data they collect.
The press release from LSA goes on to question the overblown calculations of the ordinances chief cheerleader:
Councilmember Mike O’Brien and Seattle Public Utilities have also released statistics that greatly exaggerate the environmental impact of print directories, falsely implying that phone books create 100 pounds of unwanted paper each year per household. According to the city’s own estimates, the city annually recycles approximately 1,500 tons of phone books or less than 2 percent of total recyclables – not 17,500 tons as claimed.
“We are deeply concerned with the way the City of Seattle has exaggerated in its media effort the number of directories distributed within the city limits, suggesting a per/household pound estimate that is 1,200 percent above what their own research shows,” Norton said.
Gee, a government group using inflated numbers to further their cause. Have we heard this before somewhere? LSA continues in the release to explain why this new government site makes little sense:
Directory publishers remain committed to offering Seattle residents and consumers nationwide the ability to choose which directories they receive at www.yellowpagesoptout.com . Through proactive industry efforts, the amount of directory paper in the market has declined by nearly 35 percent since 2007.
Even as the City of Seattle has worked to reduce its environmental footprint, it has selected a model that only encourages waste by duplicating work that the industry has already done. The sustainable approach is a national one, where there is one standard website for consumers across the United States to stop delivery of directories. The benefits of the industry’s site include:
- No burden to cities, taxpayers, or city government staff: Industry assumes all costs and staffing associated with development, maintenance and promotion of http://www.yellowpagesoptout.com .
- Greater awareness: One official industry site will result in greater awareness for consumers across the country, amplifying the positive impact of the initiative.
- Integration with publishers’ technology systems: The website will work seamlessly with the publishers’ systems; no third-party vendor has the same level of existing knowledge.
- Library of directory covers provide better clarity of choice for the user: The website will include visuals that will make it easier for residents to identify the directories they wish to keep or stop.
- Protected personal information: Residents using www.yellowpagesoptout.com can be confident that their personal information will only be shared with publishers for the purpose of customizing their directory delivery choices and not sold to third parties or used by city governments or their website vendors for marketing purposes. The city has made no such assurances for its opt-out program or website.
Wake up Seattle. Your self-serving Council is spending your money on an ego ride it doesn’t have to be on. You can do better, much better….