Seattle reports over 75,000 residents, businesses stopped almost 420,000 phone book deliveries through opt-out program, saved 375 tons of paper; planners expect as many as 25,000 residents, businesses to opt-out this year

Kendall Sinclair

Kendall Sinclair

Apr 24, 2012 – City of Seattle

SEATTLE , April 24, 2012 (press release) – More than one-fifth of all Seattle households and businesses have used stopphonebooks, made a phone call, or mailed a postcard to opt out of telephone book deliveries since the service was started by the city, last May 5.

“We know there are still many residents and businesses who want to stop unwanted phone books from landing on their porches and we’re working to reach them this spring,” said City Councilmember Mike O’Brien, whose leadership resulted in the phone book opt-out legislation last year.

“Ultimately, we hope every resident and business will let publishers know whether or not they want to receive a phone book.”

More than 75,000 residents and businesses have stopped nearly 420,000 individual unwanted phone book deliveries — saving 375 tons of paper. Those savings will continue every year because opt-outs are permanent until the user opts back in.

“Right now is a good time to go online or make a phone call to opt out, because the 2012 phone book delivery cycle begins in June,” said O’Brien. “Opting out of all or some phone books now can stop deliveries for this year – and permanently.”

May 22 is the last day to opt out to stop deliveries of Dex phone books this year, according to Seattle Public Utilities (SPU). Under the regulations established by the city, residents and businesses must opt out at least 30 days before deliveries start, giving phone book publishers time to remove opt-outs from their lists of delivery addresses.

As many as 25,000 more households and businesses are expected to use the stopphonebooks system this year, SPU planners said.

Dex delivers in June and July. Two other companies, Yellowbook and Supermedia deliver yellow pages in the fall. The stopphonebooks website allows users to opt out of some or all phone book titles, including residential listings, the “white pages.” Phone book deliveries can also be stopped by calling (206) 504-3066, an automated line.

The city expects to open a Spanish language version of the call-in line in June.

Seattle businesses and residents using the opt-out system have stopped an average of 5.5 individual phone book deliveries per address, so it appears that many of them have canceled all of the six phone books that were slated for delivery last year.

City regulations allow SPU to fine publishers $125 for each valid complaint that a yellow pages book was delivered despite a timely opt-out request when errors exceed one-half of 1 percent of total opt outs for any one title. In the 2011 delivery cycle, all three publishers stayed under the limit and none were fined.

The stopphonebooks web pages are operated under contract to the city by Catalog Choice, a company which runs similar opt-out programs for other governments including King County, Chicago, Berkeley and San Jose, Calif., and Kansas City Metro, among others. Once on the site, users can opt out of both phone books and junk mail. Or for junk mail, they can go directly to stopjunkmail. There is no phone service for stopping junk mail.

Residents and businesses outside Seattle can use King County’s site, KCecoconsumer to stop both phone books and junk mail.

Learn more about Seattle Public Utilities.

Follow SPU on Twitter.

In addition to providing a reliable water supply to more than 1.3 million customers in the Seattle metropolitan area, SPU provides essential sewer, drainage, solid waste and engineering services that safeguard public health, maintain the City’s infrastructure and protect, conserve and enhance the region's environmental resources.

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