A campaign for a central opt-out scheme for paper directories has reached it goal after a consumer watchdog programme highlighted the issue.
Strictly speaking, the Dutch could already opt-out of receiving the combined White and Yellow Pages. The complaint of the campaign group Stop De Telefoongids ('Stop the Telephone Book') was not that people could not cancel the directory; it was that the opt-out scheme was not being promoted and that the opt-out process was too complicated. In order to cancel the directory people had to find a "hidden" opt-out form in the directory and post this to the publisher of the book.
The campaign, which was launched in 2008, suddenly achieved its goal after a consumer watchdog programme raised the issue earlier this week. While debating whether or not an opt-in system for paper directories should be introduced a spokesman for the White and Yellow Pages announced that it was now possible to opt-out via the directory's website.
Stop De Telefoongids, which has the support of nearly 30,000 people, will cease to exist. A statement on its website reads: "Our aim was to make life a little easier for people and to do our bit for the environment at the same time. The White / Yellow Pages has publicly announced that it will take its responsibility and has added an opt-out form to its website. That was all we wanted to achieve."
The domain name stopdetelefoongids.nl will be offered to the publisher of the directory "so that it can use the many links to the website and ensure that it will remain easy for people to find the opt-out form".
Refusing to advertise
In the UK, publishers of directories are still refusing to advertise the existence of opt-out schemes. Householders can opt-out of receiving any of the three main directories delivered door-to-door in the UK (Yellow Pages, Thomson Local and BT Phone Book) but this possibility is not mentioned in the directories, nor can any information about opting out be found on the directories' websites. People wanting to opt out can do so via Stop Junk Mail's Junk Buster website.
Online directory 192.com is campaigning for a central opt-in system for directories in the UK. Its petition on the 10 Downing Street website was recently signed by over 12,000 people.