Thursday, January 26, 2006

Yellow Pages Very Customer Un-Friendly

Remember when the yellow pages used to be the “go to” resources for reliable information? Even though they were advertising-driven, you could rely on the indexing and that these were the most convenient businesses to your location.

Then the phone companies shot themselves in the foot. Out of greed, they began to let any business, local or not, buy a listing…and they were salt and peppered into local listings without any indication that these businesses were located far away in other communities.

Then deregulation spawned a bunch of knock-off books.... They took listings from legitimate yellow pages and lumped a bunch of communities into one book to make it “convenient” but again with no rhyme or reason to the listings. A user takes a “crap shoot.” The listing may be a mile away or a 60- to 100-mile roundtrip.

Now out of self-defense, the legitimate books contracted by phone companies are doing the same.... Who gets screwed? The truly convenient local business and the reader/user. Neither has a chance in a million of knowing what’s convenient, fast and reliable.

I guess the whole notion may work in a region centered around one dominant city. But in polycentric regions like the Triangle, with no dominant center and covering an area many times the size of a state or two, it drives people crazy…both as a figure of speech and in drive time.

All that these folks are doing is driving people to the Internet…where the Web is doing just the opposite. Local is even more local…except Citysearch which insists on lumping the communities in the Triangle together and treating them differently than almost any other area…ever notice that Baltimore and Washington get separate sites?

But that’s another blog.

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