Cumberland Times-News

Local News

December 16, 2010

Verizon must continue delivering phone books for now

Company wants to eliminate residential white pages

— CUMBERLAND — The Maryland Public Service Commission has denied Verizon’s request to stop distributing residential white pages.

The commission met with Verizon representatives on Dec. 8 as part of the telephone company’s proposal to stop distributing residential white pages in all of the 12 states where it operates land line telephone service. The PSC sent a letter to Verizon on Dec. 10 disapproving the request for Maryland.

For further consideration of the matter, the commission requested that Verizon provide proof that customers generally don’t use paper copies of the white pages directory, but instead often refer to various alternatives to find residential listings. The commission also expressed concerns regarding customer notification of the change and requested that Verizon provide a revised educational proposal.

“We believe we presented a thorough customer notification plan to the commission — a plan that would include notices in white pages directories that will continue to be delivered, quarterly bill inserts and press releases that will be issued to media outlets throughout Maryland,” said Sandra Arnette of Verizon public relations. “In response to the commission’s comments, we will consider other options as well to inform customers.”    

According to Arnette, any customer who wants a paper copy of the directory can get one free of charge by simply calling SuperMedia at 800-888-8448.

“For now, it will be business as usual. We will continue our normal cycle of delivering the white pages directory while examining our potential next steps with the commission,” said Arnette, who was not sure of the time frame for resubmitting a proposal.

Verizon’s request for eliminating the paper form of residental white pages stems from consumers’ evolving preferences, alternatives for obtaining land line phone listings and the environmental impact.

 “If Verizon ultimately is able to move ahead with its plan for the white pages in Maryland, over 2,000 tons of paper would be saved each year  — much of which ends up in landfills today,” said Arnette.

States that will no longer carry the residential white pages include Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Delaware and Florida.

Contact Elaine Blaisdell at eblaisdell@times-news.com.

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