By Rob Pegoraro
Sunday, August 30, 2009; G04
QHow can I get the phone company to stop sending me phone books? They go straight to the recycling bin at our house.
AFor a lot of people, the Internet made the yellow and white pages obsolete sometime in the past decade -- the last time I flipped through a phone book was six years ago in Italy, where I was delighted to see so many listings with my last name.
But directory publishers can still profit from these products, and so they keep depositing new copies on our doorsteps.
Furthermore, I've yet to see a phone book offer clear instructions about how to opt out of distribution. But you can now look that information up online at http://yellowpagesoptout.com, a site launched this month by two trade groups, the Yellow Pages Association and the Association of Directory Publishers.
Plug in your Zip code, and the site will list publishers operating in your area, with phone numbers to call to opt out of distribution. In my case, the site found four companies -- Idearc Media, which provides Verizon's phone books; Yellow Book USA, a competing firm; Chinese Yellow Pages, which has yet to send me a directory; and Your Community PhoneBook, a publisher of smaller, neighborhood-specific directories -- and provided numbers for the first two.
At Idearc (call 800-888-8448, then press 2), I waited on hold for about three minutes, then only had to give a polite, cooperative representative my phone number, address and reason for my cancellation. At Yellow Book USA (800-929-3556, then press 1), I waited a minute before reciting my address and name to an equally genial rep.
Mission accomplished -- assuming these companies keep their records straight. Now if I could just stop Comcast and Verizon from sending me two fliers a week about their TV and Internet services.
Rob Pegoraro attempts to untangle computing conundrums and errant electronics each week. Send questions to The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071 or email@example.com. Visit http://voices.washingtonpost.com/fasterforward for his Faster Forward blog.