NJ White Pages Goes Way of Other Dinosaurs

Verizon successfully petitions state Board of Public Utilities to stop delivering massive, though typically unopened, White Pages directory

Chalk up another casualty to the technological revolution.

Consumers will no longer receive their White Pages directory from Verizon New Jersey unless they specifically ask for it.

The state Board of Public Utilities yesterday approved a request from the giant telecommunications company to stop delivering the mammoth directory to customers, a mind-numbing tome most customer never bother to use in this new digital age, according to Verizon.

Verizon prints 4.5 million copies of the directories each year. By eliminating the requirement to distribute the directory to all of its customers, it estimates it would save approximately 1,400 tons [of paper] each year in New Jersey and save its publisher, not affiliated with Verizon, about $1 million, according to BPU officials. And that’s not even counting the energy required to print, bind and distribute the directories.

Asking for Directory Assistance

If customers still want a printed directory, they still can request one, or a CD-ROM with residential listings, at no charge. The information is also available online. Verizon would continue to print the money-making Yellow Pages and business White Pages.

Only about 11 percent of the public uses the White Pages, according to a Gallup Poll, down from 25 percent in 2005. In Oklahoma, Florida and Ohio, where AT&T has discontinued distributing the White Pages, only 2 percent of the customers have requested the printed directory after it was discontinued.

In approving the request, the BPU expressed worries that it would lead to more directory assistance calls to the telecom provider, which now allows customers to make two free directory assistance calls before charging them $1.50 per call.

A Fan of the White Pages

“I use the White Pages all the time,’’ said BPU Commissioner Jeanne Fox, who added she was concerned it would increase the money made by the company and the cost to consumers. “I have no doubt it will lead to an increase in drectory assistance calls.’’

Anthony Centrella, director of the Division of Telecommunications, however, said he did not anticipate a dramatic increase in directory assistance calls resulting from the change.

Still, the commissioners requested the company file reports on just how much directory assistance calls increase as so they could monitor whether it was affecting customers in a negative way.

The commissioners also required the telecom company to notify customers of the change via seven different methods, including a press release, bill inserts and various messages included in then newest directories.