Don't want yellow pages? Seattle puts teeth in opt-out system

May 5, 2011

Starting today (Thursday) a new online registry will allow Seattleites to choose whether or not they receive yellow pages phone books. But an industry group says it’s redundant, because there’s already such a website in place nationwide.

The City of Seattle site is www.seattle.gov/stopphonebooks.

The city says about 2 million yellow-page phonebooks are recycled every year at a cost of about $350,000 and homes and businesses receive an estimated 17,500 tons of unwanted paper in the form of junk mail and yellow pages phone books.

But the Local Search Association said Thursday there is already a nationwide industry website, www.yellowpagesoptout.com , and says the Seattle site is redundant.

“We believe that the city’s site will only confuse residents who may be unsure of which site to use, or even feel the need to register with both," Neg Norton, president of the Local Search Association, said in a press release.

But Seattle Councilmember Mike O'Brien countered to the Seattle Times that the new ordinance has teeth:

The main difference is theirs is voluntary. They can choose to obey what you put in there or not. Ours is mandatory and we enforce it".

Under the ordinance, yellow pages publishers can be fined up to $125 per phone book if they deliver directories to residents who opt-out at least 30-days before scheduled delivery.