I got a phone book left on my door step yesterday. My granddaughter eagerly ran it downstairs to me in my studio. I sent her back upstairs and there it sits next to me on the couch today, still unopened.
I will eventually open it and exchange it for the obsolete copy it replaces. I have four different phone directories that I have to find a place for.
Four different books with mostly redundant information. But as I have found out, there are differences.
Last winter I wanted to call the appliance repair man I usually use because my microwave oven had quit working. I was pretty sure the guy was still in business because I saw his van up in my neighborhood just a few weeks before.
I grabbed the phone book I usually look in and could not find him listed anywhere. I tried another and finally a third one before I located his number.
When he came out I asked him about his listing and he said he went with the least expensive and could not afford all four. I understand. It helps him keep the cost of his business down.
Lucky for him though, I took the time to seek out his number through the overload of books on my shelf. How many calls are not made because a person only uses one directory to find a business.
I think it is a double edged sword for small business to have so much competition in the phone directory business. Sure it keeps costs down as they compete for listings, but on the other hand most of us are creatures of habit and only look in one place when we need help.
The phone directory service is also a bit sneaky. I remember at the Family Support Center we would get bills for listing in a phone directory. They were very persistent and even sent us past due notices. My office manager worried that we would lose our listing if we didn't pay.
I made sure we were in the local book and didn't need to send any money to keep that listing and told her to ignore the notices. We continued to get them on a regular basis and continued to ignore them. They were not from our local phone company either.
So what is the answer? I don't think it is to go back to the days of Ma Bell and her monopoly. It may be worthwhile for local businesses to look to local sources such as our home town phone company, newspaper and radio stations. You at least get someone to yell at if they get your ad wrong.
As technology increases, I hope the dependence on the paper directory makes it less profitable for so many companies to produce them.
But for today, I will take the newest directory out of its wrapper and stick it on the shelf with all the others and wish we had a good recycling center to take the old one to.