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Seattle unveils yellow pages opt-out registry

Admin’s note: It is now more important then ever for a small business to have a web site and proper SEO optimization so they can be found when local people search online – Read the following story and realize the growing trend toward the internet as the new de-facto business directory. Can any business really afford to not be online any more – we think not – end admin’s note

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see original story here at the Seattle PI web site
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Seattle unveiled its new yellow pages opt-out registry Thursday, months after it became the first city in the country to require phone book companies to honor requests of people who no longer want the thick paper directory delivered to their doorstep.

The registry can be found at Seattle’s new Stop Phone Books page.

But the city didn’t leave much time for people to opt out.

Requests must be made 30 days before a phone book company starts its distribution cycle in the city. For books from Dex Pages – the largest phone-book distributor in Seattle – the deadline to opt out is May 16, in just 12 days.

The city contracted with Catalog Choice, a non-profit Berkeley, Calif.-based company, to run the registry. The service lets Seattle residents stop yellow pages delivery, or choose a certain brand of phone book.

Seattleites can also use the service to opt out of advertising and catalog mailings. Catalog Choice has reported that companies have honored 95 percent of requests.

When it comes to phone books, the city’s new ordinances call for a fine up of up to $125 per book for yellow pages publishers who deliver to residents who said no with sufficient notice.

“We heard from hundreds of people who are frustrated with the system of receiving multiple phone books every year and requested a reliable way to stop the waste,” said councilmember Mike O’Brien, chairman of the Seattle Public Utilities and Neighborhoods Committee, in a statement.

“This is it.”

The city said an estimated two million yellow pages books are recycled in Seattle a year, at a cost of about $350,000 to taxpayers. Combined with junk mail, the phone books amount  to roughly 100 pounds of waste per Seattle household a year, the city figured.

The Yellow Pages Assocation, which has since become the Local Search Association, has said the Seattle ordinance was redundant because the industry was already implementing opt out programs. The industry has also said it’s unconstitutional, violating the First Amendment.

On the same day Seattle unveiled is registry, Dex Media West and a phone book trade group filed a motion for a temporary restraining order against the program. Read that story here: Phone book co. seeks injunction against Seattle opt-out law.