A couple of days ago I wrote about the San Francisco Board of Supervisors wasting time going after toys in Happy Meals. Today, I praise them (well, the Land Use and Economic Development Committee subset of the Supes) for their unanimous vote to require a customer to opt-in for Yellow Pages delivery before getting one (or seven) of the books dumped on their front door step.
Here’s the thing: We live in San Francisco, one of the most wired cities in the country. We’re in a high-tech mecca where the release of the latest iPhone means blocks-long lines, and a glance at your fellow commuters on Muni will show that 95% of them are playing Angry Birds, Facebooking, texting, or Googling the bar they’re heading to for happy hour. Translation: everything is online now, and in today’s wired world, the Yellow Pages directory is an anachronism, a throwback to an era when to find a plumber we asked a neighbor or two (the old-school version of Yelp?) and checked the trusty Yellow Pages.
Now, before you say, “But my grandmother doesn’t have a computer and she needs her Yellow Pages!” give me a second to explain that our fearless Supervisors are not suggesting a ban on Yellow Pages. They are saying that the distributors couldn’t just dump them on the door step without an opt-in (a phone call, a letter in the mail, or even, according to a blog on the Wall Street Journal, leaving a sticky note on your front door).
The Yellow Pages industry, as well as some labor leaders who fear the loss of jobs and some business owners who fear the loss of eyeballs on their ads, are vowing to defeat the effort to set up the opt-in. They say it’s an infringement of their free speech rights, and they prefer an opt-out approach, in which consumers would have to tell the Yellow Pages delivery elves not to come to their home.
The opt-in gets two thumbs up from me. When there are 1.6 million bricks — or books — left at homes in SF each year, which cost $1 million to dispose of each year, it’s time to reduce the wasteful production and give the books only to the customers who request them.
In the meantime, go to http://www.yellowpagesoptout.com/if you’d like to opt out. And prior to March 29, when the full Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote on the measure, get a little civic action by contacting your Supervisor and making your voice heard.