Thursday November 2, 2006

How to recycle phone books. Fine, but how do you get them to stop delivering them in the first place? There are stacks of phone books in the hallway of my apartment building that nobody wants. Why would they, when it takes a fraction of a second to find any phone number on Google?

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  1. NicFitKid    Thu Nov 2, 03:24 PM #  

    A few years ago, I spent about a week delivering phone books for some extra cash. I signed up with the distribution company at their temporary HQ at the county fair grounds next to FIU. Back then I was driving a beat-up ’87 Civic hatchback, which was woefully inadequate to the task. It took me five trips just to pick up my assigned lot (everbody else was there with vans, pickups, and panel trucks) and I ended up with a canyon of the damn things in my living room.

    The delivery addresses for the books came from Bellsouth landline customer lists. For houses, this made things fairly straightforward, but for apartment buildings, a whole lot of walking and door knocking was necessary to get the books to the right units. After knocking and announcing “phone books!” so many times, I felt a little bit like the SNL landshark.

    When I mentioned this hassle to some of the other guys picking up more phone books from the trailers on my third day, they laughed in my face. They didn’t bother with address lists for apartment buildings, they just dumped the whole lot at the entrance to the building, or behind the building, or the stairwell, or wherever. As for houses, they simply began with the starting address, and dropped the books at every house along the route regardless of which specific address had a bellsouth landline.

    Needless to say, I only completed three routes by the end of the week, while the dump n’ go panel truck guys averaged six to ten. There’s no incentive to accurately deliver to the landline addresses, and a strong financial reason to dump as many books as possible in order to pick up more routes. The distribution company only did a few spot phone checks to verify correct delivery, so dump n’ go ruled the day.

  2. Gus    Thu Nov 2, 03:24 PM #  

    “Why would they”

    Door stop.

  3. alesh    Thu Nov 2, 03:40 PM #  

    Dang, Nic, that’s messed up. Or not: back in the day when everyone actually HAD a land line, and before getting phone information off the web was effortless and accurate (only pretty recently), that might have made sense.

    Hopefully bellsouth will realize that the days of the phone book are numbered and stop distributing them except by request in a couple of years.

    Yes, they’re good for weighing stuff down, and as pedestals. . .

  4. j-j    Thu Nov 2, 10:07 PM #  

    But what happens when our robots overlords take over and restrict internet use? No way I’ll keep my yellow pages for that dreadful day. Thank you.

  5. alesh    Fri Nov 3, 06:48 AM #  

    When the robot overlords cut off the internet they’ll obviously cut off phone service concurrently.


  6. Mark Foley    Fri Nov 3, 09:12 AM #  

    I like Asian phone books because they let my fingers do the walking through the yellow pages. Pages. Get it? Hyuk hyuk. Time for my nap.

  7. Coconut Grove Grapevine    Fri Nov 3, 10:05 AM #  

    Bell South actually called me to ask if I received my phone books. I told them yes and I threw them out. I actually put them in the recycle bin.

    I told our building’s maintenance man to recycle all the remaining ones after a week.

  8. Rebecca Carter    Fri Nov 3, 05:39 PM #  

    I’m with you Alesh. We don’t need them. But, in the meantime, they arrive and you have to do something with them. Recycling new material is such a waste (as is recycling recycled material)...but it’s better than tossing it in the trash. The post was triggered by an email inquiry I received. Did anyone try to complain directly to BellSouth? I have to admit, I haven’t yet.

  9. alesh    Sat Nov 4, 08:28 AM #  

    I stopped trying to complain to Bellsouth a long time ago. We still use their DSL and web hosting at work (long story as to why); once, the service went down for a few hours. I called their tech support and got a recording that said something like “we are currently experiencing a high call volume and will be unable to take you call” and hung up on me.

    I figure the phone books will go away on their own eventually. In the meantime, maybe the homeless can use them for fuel or something.