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Yellow Pages Phone Book Scam

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  • User profile image
    ScanIAm

    It's that time of year, again.  I don't know how it works in the rest of the world, but US phone companies are delivering phone books to our doorsteps.  I came home last week to no less than 3 different 'books' from 1 company.  1 was full size, one was kind of a mini services version, and a CD/DVD.  Each of them made a satisfying noise as they were deposited in their appropriate recycle bin.

    I'll be receiving duplicates from the other phone companies in the area soon enough and I can't help but believe that these are nothing more than scams designed to extract money from local businesses for advertising. 

    Has anyone used a phone book for its intended purposes in the last decade?

  • User profile image
    kettch

    @ScanIAm: I can't say that I have. Is there an opt out list somewhere?

    One time I was out on a rural road, and I saw a huge pile of phonebooks dumped off the side of the road. Obviously the delivery guy was about as interested in delivering them as people are in getting them.

    Lately, the ones I've been getting are so covered in ads, they look like a race car. They have no less than three refrigerator magnets advertising businesses. It makes me wonder how much longer these companies can hold out.

  • User profile image
    MasterPi

    ,ScanIAm wrote

    Has anyone used a phone book for its intended purposes in the last decade?

    Nope..used a few of them to unsafely prop up a step ladder.

    Seems like a waste of paper these days. And I also don't think their decline is due solely to "well, you can just look it up online". I learn about plumbers and contractors from people I know and restaurants from the radio, tv ads, and general word of mouth buzz. I'm not going to blindly go through a phone list to look for a business that may or may not deliver.

  • User profile image
    vesuvius

    @ScanIAm:Nope,  but the reason things are probably continuing is because companies are being scared off by the Yeller' staff. Recently, the Banks have reversed a decision to continue with cheques instead of cash because a lot of "old fogeys" and charities complained.

    Pretty much every business will be told "they will lose custom",  so "compared to the small advertising fee, it is business not worth losing".

    In the end it is "us" that are being scammed, because it means the Council (I think it is Municipal for you) can still charge twice as much for all the junk mail and rubbish people post through our postboxes. The Post Office complains about profits, but like the music industry, they should have invested in technology to allow then to continue to be relevant in tthis day and age.

  • User profile image
    Ian2

    If your Councils are anything like ours those guys are inderpaid and overworked.

  • User profile image
    spivonious

    I use ours to look up new businesses, such as roofers, plumbers, etc. I'm not aware of any reliable site that lets me look up the same information, and I can get a feel for the business by the size of their ad. Just the text entry means they're small and not too successful, a full-age ad means they care more about advertising than their customers and/or are overpriced. I tend to stick with the ones big enough to get a quarter- to half-page ad.

    Of course, word-of-mouth comes first. If my friend was happy with a roofer, I'll give them a call regardless of their presence in the phone book.

    What sites do you all use to find new services?

  • User profile image
    kettch

    @vesuvius: I know the USPS is barely keeping afloat, mostly because of the revenue they get from junk mail. It's not just a lack of technology. As a quasi government organization, they aren't run like a business that needs to do with what they have. They are inefficient and bloated.

    From talking to a number of friends who are postal workers, one of the biggest money sinks for them is Saturday delivery. They all hate it because it ensures that they never have a consistent schedule or days off. Every time they talk about cutting Saturday delivery the catalog lobby puts a stop to it. Apparently they try to time their mailings so that the catalog gets in your hands on Saturday when you might have more time to read it. So, they pay mail carriers to go on TV and talk about how their children will starve if they can't deliver mail on Saturday.

  • User profile image
    ScanIAm

    @spivonious:I joined Angie's List to look for reliable contract workers after noticing how scammy the online version of the phone pages has become. 

    Case in point: I was looking online for a floor tiler and I found one on YP.com that had 20 5-star reviews.  In reality there were 5 people who were giving repeated reveiws, each slightly different.  Same names.  Same date for all 20 of the reviews and all were glowing recommendations.  It's likely that the tiling business did this themselves, but that means I don't trust any reviews that come for free on YP.com.

    Mostly, though, if I need a plumber, I type "plumber in <my city>" into a search engine and they show up.

     

  • User profile image
    W3bbo

    ,ScanIAm wrote

    Has anyone used a phone book for its intended purposes in the last decade?

    It seems every year, the Yellow Pages run the "Christmas Mistletoe" ad on TV.

    Anyway, I have leafed through the Yellow Pages (and the online edition) at least once in the past 5 years, but if I'm looking for someone to do a job then I just go to the Internet. I find organic results seem a better predictor of vendor quality than the size of the advert they take.

    Related: apparently taxi companies call themselves "Abc Taxis" or "Acorn Taxis" or "Aardvark Taxis" so they appear first in the Yellow Pages listings.

  • User profile image
    davewill

    @ScanIAm: We use the yellow pages first then the internet second.  We try to hire people/companies who are "neighbors" first then work out from there.  Most mom/pop type operations will have an entry in the yellow pages, less will have an internet presence.

  • User profile image
    Dr Herbie

    We're in a relatively rural area, and a a significant number of the local businesses don't have web presence.  So we do tend to use Yellow Pages alongside web searches when looking for tradesmen, for example.

    Herbie

  • User profile image
    ScanIAm

    Hmmmm.  It sounds like it would be in the interest of Google/Bing to catalog this kind of information while they are out and about scanning for WiFi hotspots Smiley

  • User profile image
    MasterPi

    ,ScanIAm wrote

    Hmmmm.  It sounds like it would be in the interest of Google/Bing to catalog this kind of information while they are out and about scanning for WiFi hotspotsSmiley

    They could just pick up the Yellow Pages lying outside of houses and digitize the information!

    Brilliant. Tongue Out

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