Cincinnati Bell hates phone books and recently asked Ohio to let them kill their White Pages. Ohio’s Public Utilities Commission, also haters of the ever-wasteful and often useless White Pages, agreed. Now Cincinnati residents won’t get a phone book unless they specially request one. We’re no fans of the White Pages, but the deal isn’t as consumer-friendly as it looks.
The Ohio Consumers’ Counsel, an advocate for residential utilities users, said it is concerned citizens will not get the vital information in the directories beyond residential phone numbers. The books include facts on 9-1-1 service, income-eligible payment assistance and how to handle harassing calls, among other information.
“Given that many consumers continue to rely on printed white page directories, we are concerned that making the printed directory available only by request will cause some consumers to not receive information they want and need,” said Janine Migden-Ostrander, counsel for the OCC.
We don’t buy the Council’s argument. Phone books are generally useless, except as the occasional foot stand or blackout reference. The deal stinks because Ohio’s Public Utilities Commission already gave phone companies two viable options:
- a) Print and distribute a copy of the White Pages to every resident; or,
- b) Provide free directory assistance.
Cincinnati Bell convinced the Commission to waive that rule. The Commission should have told Bell that if they really cared about the environment, they could offer free directory assistance. Now AT&T and Verizon are looking at the decision and may ask Ohio for similar waivers. We’re all for trees and the environment or whatever, but helping the planet doesn’t mean we need to sacrifice consumer protections.