Who uses printed phone directories?

I just posted the following comment to Sensis, the Telstra-owned company which distributes the telephone directories in Australia. I’ll let you know if I get a response.

How do I stop receiving printed telephone directories?

We received Sydney’s “Inner West” Yellow Pages the other day. It reminded me that we haven’t used the printed telephone directories at all for at least the last two years. Each year we receive the new directories — and they sit unused, a total waste of paper.

Thanks in advance,


P.S. Why does your website contact form make “Title” and “Surname” required fields? A surname is not a required thing — don’t have one, for example — and titles are optional. Surely to receive feedback the only thing you need is some way of contacting the person if they want a response — say an email address.

When was the last time you used the White Pages or Yellow Pages on paper? What were you looking for? Has the time come to forget about printing these things anyway?

14 Replies to “Who uses printed phone directories?”

  1. At least their website form generates an email confirmation:

    bq. Thank you for contacting Sensis. This email is to confirm that we have received your message.

    bq. A Customer Care representative will respond to your inquiry.

    But note: No tracking number, no confirmation of the content of my message (so I don’t have a file copy), no indication of _when_ someone might reply.

  2. Well when my internet was down, I did use the paper White Pages to look up the taxi number. So for those without a connection to the matrix, it provides a doorway to the light.

  3. It’s late in the evening — don’t question my mixed metaphors!

  4. They’re bloody useful for chocking open doors.

    Also, the sydney-wide yellow pages ones, that come wrapped in plastic in a bundle of two – they’re about the right height to use as a monitor stand. I’ve also seen people use them as laptop stands, when the tables are too low and the chairs too high.

    But – look anything up? If teh intarweb is down, there’s always my phone and a quick google – or even, as a last resort, a quick call to directory services.

  5. It is an interesting question that you pose but a somewhat pointless one. A little like why have 4 different news services on between 5 and 7PM each night, they all report on the same news and they are all of a similar format, the reason is choice. Some people dont like watching Bruce Paige and Heather Foord, they prefer Rod Young and Kay McGrath. Some people think 9 does NRL better than 7 so they watch that, or why have multiple newspapers serving a market. The simple answer is that it is all about preferences and individual tastes.

    Yellow Pages in Book form or Online is information about businesses and provides choice. You can also get that info in a limited form from a paper or from Google but here’s where Yellow Pages truly comes into it’s own as I found recently, try searching for an electrician amongst Google’s 250,000 search results that services your suburb at 930pm in the middle of an electrical Black out, after blowing a fuse.

    No power, no computer, no internet.

    I got a guy from the Yellow Pages in under a minute, who came out within 2 hours and fixed my fuse. Problem solved

    I have been a big internet user for about 8 years or so when many discoved it’s treasure trove of info. However in recent times using Google or Yahoo or MSN to find local info about a Doctor, dentist or Plumber quickly has become very time consuming and quite frankly a pain in the backside.

    To buy anything I will research it first online and compare prices, but to find someone who sells something, I have gone back to Yellow Pages, all the businesses are listed, i know they service my area and overall its much faster and easier and theres no pop ups! Why wouldnt you want it delivered?

  6. @Chris Constable: “Why wouldn’t I want it delivered?” you ask? I thought the answer to that would be in my original post: because I never use it, and I consider it to be an obscene waste of paper.

    Since the theme of your comment is about “choice”, why cannot I choose not to be part of this wasteful process — since I’m _choosing_ to use the Internet for that kind of information? Including the online version of the _Yellow Pages_ — which kinda makes you comment about YP being better than Yahoo or Google a bit of a red herring.

    Chris, you wouldn’t happen to have a connection with Sensis by any chance?

  7. we used the WP (commercial) just yesterday… I don’t believe the online version as they still have us as living in Samson St – where we were before we left for Sydney in 2000… and don’t have us at the current address at all… even though we have been here 2 years (even though we have been correctly shown in all printed white pages since 2000)… their update process sucks even once you notice your details are wrong – we notified them of the wrong Samson details over 4 years ago, for some reason they couldn’t remove the details…

    I agree with Chris regardling the usefulness of the paper version, but also agree with you that you should be able to opt out – easy enough for Sensis to add the info to their delivery database – it tells the deliverers how many each address requires, but the default is 1 – even if there is no landline connected.

  8. This is interesting, in that some Internet-savvy folks find uses for paper telephone directories — apart from propping up monitors. So this is starting to answer the questions at the bottom of my post about how people use these things.

    @quadrapop: Your point about accuracy is interesting. I thought the paper and online versions derive from the same database, but obviously not. If true, that’s just stupid.

  9. I’ve only lived in apartment blocks since I moved to sydney, aside from where I am now.

    120 apartments in complex == 120 sets of yellow pages piled high outside the front door. Aside from nicking one each time a door needs to be chocked open, they don’t tend to move much.

    I seem to recall a ‘recycling’ service – we’ll be back in two weeks to collect any spares, so if you don’t want one, just leave it outside. Even if I’m right about that, it’s still much less efficient than just not delivering one…

  10. to Stilgherrian re: Chris Constable. A close friend of mine used to work for Sensis for over 10 years, and first let me say that the bullying she experienced proved to me that they are all a pack of soulless, corporate bastards. Very unAustralian indeed.

    But on with this topic – I think Chris Constable is ABSOLUTELY connected to Sensis. It is my undertanding that they employ people to scour the net and make comments on forums in order to defend their products. The example given by this “Mr Constable” is almost verbatim the same type of example Sensis uses to brainwash their salespeople at the beginning of every year into once again believing that their printed product “works”.

    Sensis is absolutely scared to death of Google because every day their customers tell them “no one uses the book anymore, they just use Google”. The example provided about not finding an electrician in a blackout is ridiculous. When there is a blackout almost 100% of people just wait till the power is switched back on. They don’t all get out their torches and run to the yellow pages to find an electrician. Most of them don’t even remember they have a copy of the yellow pages anyway, because its still sitting in its plastic out thefront of the house (if it was even delivered in the first place).

    OOPS SORRY I MEANT TO WRITE “The Yellow Pages Directory (with the little R in a Circle after it) TEE HEE

  11. @Kelly: The thing about anonymous, non-specific allegations of bullying is that they can’t be proved, disproved or even trusted — so while I’ll let your comment stand for the moment, I will point out to readers that it’s just a slur.

    If there has been bullying, I strongly encourage the victim to seek advice on how to make a complaint.

    This post was originally published more than two years ago. At the time, I obviously has my suspicions about Chris Constable’s potential connection with Sensis, since the wording of the post does sound like prepared corporate-speak. They didn’t respond to the question. Draw from that what you will.

Comments are closed.