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A day after delivering phone books, this phonebook disposal dumpster was photographed in Orlando. Source: Tim Welch, Flickr
A day after delivering phone books, this phonebook disposal dumpster was photographed in Orlando. Source: Tim Welch, Flickr

Yellow Pages is useless

Are you aware of a new jeweller that has opened 35 stores since April? No? Coleby Nicholson wasn’t either, so he went investigating. And it’s surprising what else he discovered along the way.
The Yellow Pages is useless. Have you used it recently? I’m not just talking about the printed Yellow Pages either. I stopped using some time ago for many reasons, the main one being its lack of reliability. 

These days we think about directories differently, especially since the advent of internet search. Print directories are, and have always been, databases of information. The way that information is delivered – whether print, online or through your mobile – is less important than the quality of the information itself. 

Delivery mechanisms are constantly evolving so the online version of the Yellow Pages is simply a different delivery mechanism for the same database of information. What has never changed is the need for accurate information, and that’s where the Yellow Pages lets you down – it’s inaccurate. 

Keep in mind that the very business of Yellow Pages is to provide accurate and up-to-date information, and if its information is neither accurate nor current then it’s useless. 

In compiling the research for Jeweller’s 2010 State of the Industry report, we heard of a new jewellery chain that has opened 35 stores since April. Thinking that was quite a feat, I started at the – I found the retailer, but only two stores were listed for it. Something was amiss, surely? 

I did another search for jewellery stores and came across one of more than 60 Kleins stores. There’s even a lovely map of Australia showing you where the Kleins stores are located.

That’s great, the only problem is that Kleins closed down nearly three years ago! The company was liquidated, owing $25 million. It was all over the news but, according to Yellow Pages, Kleins is still in business. 

Just for fun, I thought I’d refine that search to see if there was a Kleins jewellery store in Balwyn, near a friend’s home. The search gave me a Kleins furniture store in South Melbourne! That was useless. 

Curiosity got the better of me so I looked up Balwyn Jewellers to find that it appeared to be located in two stores: one at 355a Whitehorse Road, Balwyn and the other at 355A Whitehorse Road.

Now, anyone who knows owner Dennis Coleman would agree that he’s a generous man – he has bought me a beer on more than one occasion – but I doubt he enjoys paying rent on two stores. Mind you, I do hope the rent on the lowercase ‘a’ store is less than the uppercase ’A’ store! 

But let’s face it, unlike the 60 Kleins stores that don’t exist, Balwyn Jewellers does exist, or at least one of them does, right? It could be worse, especially if you were Wallace Bishop! 

Consider this search: “56 results for Wallace Bishop Jewellers in South Australia”. Do the same for Western Australia and you get 39 results – that’s 95 stores in total. The problem is that Wallace Bishop has just 57 stores, 43 of them in Queensland and none of them are in either South Australia or Western Australia!

If Wallace Bishop has 43 stores in Queensland, how many does Yellow Pages think there are? Try 23! Bewildered? 

Well, work this out; after advising there are 56 Wallace Bishop stores in South Australia, the Yellow Pages never listed any of them!

Amused, I decided to look up the computer store where I bought my first Mac in 1990, to find it listed at the same address with the same phone number – even though it changed its business name and moved nine years ago. Staggering, huh?

Now all this wouldn’t be so laughable if it weren’t coming from a company that’s meant to be the market leader in business directories. According to Yellow Pages, how many jewellery stores are there in Australia? Try 4,339. 

Our 2010 State of the Industry report records 4,224 stores, and while that’s a very small difference in number, I think you’ll find that there’s a great difference in the reliability of the data. 

Not only is the State of the Industry report useful – as opposed to useless – but it will provide you with a magnificent insight into the Australian and New Zealand jewellery industries, and while we don’t profess to provide perfect data, we can tell you that our six-month painstaking study is about as accurate as anyone can hope. 

For a start, not only did we find, and list, the new jeweller with 35 stores, we accurately recorded the number of independent jewellers and chain stores. We also report on how much the chains have expanded over the past three years. 

There’s a wealth of information in the 68-page report, and Dennis should be happy; as far as we’re concerned he’s only paying rent for one Balwyn store!


Dear Editor,

I write in response to your recent article that was published in Jeweller magazine.

Firstly, everyone associated with the Yellow Pages is disappointed that you're search experience wasn't satisfactory. Although we don't share your assertion regarding the value of the Yellow Pages, the issues that you raised are ones that do require solutions.

We are dedicating significant resources to improve our systems, processes and infrastructure, so that the anomalies like the one that you encountered do not happen again. 

A lot of time and effort is currently being dedicated to improving the useability of the Yellow Pages network, so that it delivers even more value to the millions of Australians who use our information sources each week.

We're always looking for ways to improve the quality of our products and services, and we know we're not perfect - we can do better.

In the future, I hope that you will take the time to once again explore our network so that you share a more positive view of the Yellow Pages.

Finally thanks for taking the time to provide us with your valuable feedback.

Damian Glass
Sensis Corporate Affairs

Editor's Note: We will revisit the problem early next year and see how well the Yellow Pages delivers on its promise. Afterall, some of the issues identified should be easily rectified – if a business no longer exists it should be removed.

More reading:
Yellow Pages is STILL useless

Coleby Nicholson

Former Publisher • Jeweller Magazine

Coleby Nicholson launched Jeweller in 1996 and was also publisher and managing editor from 2006 to 2019. He has covered the jewellery industry for more than 20 years and specialises in business-to-business aspects of the industry.

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