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Changes in delivery of Phone Books
White Pages directories
by Janine Migden-Ostrander, Consumers' Counsel

Consumers in Cincinnati, Cleveland and Columbus who want residential white pages must now specifically request a copy from their telephone company.

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) has allowed Cincinnati Bell and AT&T Ohio, along with competitive telephone providers in AT&T's service area, to discontinue automatic distribution of the directories to customers. Business and government listings along with consumer information will be included in the companies' yellow pages directories, which will continue to be distributed automatically to customers.

The Office of the Ohio Consumers' Counsel (OCC) opposed a swift elimination of the delivery of residential white pages directories to all but those consumers who proactively request a copy.

Based on statewide data from Connect Ohio, a public-private partnership to increase access to broadband technology, approximately 25 percent of Ohioans have no computer while approximately 30 percent lack access to the Internet - the telephone companies' alternative to using the traditional phone book for reference.

Many residential consumers have relied on the white pages for decades. While some customers may have little need for a printed directory, the OCC believes the telephone companies' plans to limit distribution only to those who request directories are too restrictive. Instead, the OCC recommended that consumer protections be in place so that all customers will continue to receive a directory unless they instruct the company that they do not need a copy.

The OCC recommended that the PUCO require a gradual transition period, so that consumers would be automatically provided directories for at least the next two years, if not longer. During this period, consumers would be provided with adequate notice about the potential upcoming change and be invited to address their concerns to the PUCO and to the OCC.

Most of the consumer protections advocated by the OCC were not adopted by the PUCO, including notice to AT&T customers beyond that provided in the yellow pages directories. The PUCO's decision allowed AT&T and Cincinnati Bell to move forward with their proposals to scale back delivery of the residential white pages directories.

Information about AT&T residential white pages directories

Customers in the Cleveland and Columbus areas will no longer automatically receive the AT&T residential white pages directories. The company may limit distribution of residential white pages directories in other areas in the future.

To have a free printed 2009 white pages directory or a free CD-ROM containing residential, business, government and yellow pages listings delivered for free, telephone customers in Cleveland and Columbus can call the company toll free at 1-800-346-4377.

Customers requesting that an AT&T white pages directory be delivered should generally expect to receive the directory in about 14 business days.

AT&T's directory listings are also available through www.RealPagesLive.com and www.YELLOWPAGES.com.

Information about Cincinnati Bell residential white pages directories

Consumers in the Cincinnati area will no longer automatically receive the Cincinnati Bell residential white pages directory. Consumers can have a free residential white pages directory delivered or learn about accessing the directory online by calling the company locally at (513) 566-2665 (BOOK). Online forms to order white pages directories are available at www.cincinnatibellgreenpages.com.

Consumers requesting that a Cincinnati Bell white pages directory be delivered should generally expect to receive the directory in five business days or less. In addition, printed residential directories are available at Cincinnati Bell's retail store locations. A list of retail store locations is available at www.cincinnatibell.com/whitepages. Customers may also recycle old directories at these locations.

Customers can look up telephone numbers electronically at www.cincinnatibell.com/whitepages. For customers with Cincinnati Bell's ZoomTown broadband service, white pages searches can be conducted through the service's home page, www.zoomtown.com.

The OCC encourages all consumers to recycle old telephone directories. For information, consumers can contact local solid waste authorities in their area. For additional information, consumers are encouraged to contact OCC at www.pickocc.org or toll free at 1-877-PICKOCC (1-877-742-5622).

About the Office of the Ohio Consumers' Counsel

The Office of the Ohio Consumers' Counsel (OCC), the residential utility consumer advocate, represents the interests of 4.5 million households in proceedings before state and federal regulators and in the courts. The state agency also educates consumers about electric, natural gas, telephone and water issues and resolves complaints from individuals.

To receive utility information, brochures, schedule a presentation or file a utility complaint, residential consumers may call 1-877-PICKOCC (1-877-742-5622) toll free in Ohio or visit the OCC Web site at www.pickocc.org.



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