Seniors fed up with tiny phone book print

For most Canadians, the Internet has rendered the phone book obsolete. But many seniors still rely heavily on paper and print and now some in Saint John, N.B.

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are complaining that not only is the phone book shrinking, so is the print.

A local senior citizens group in Saint John held an event this week to express their anger with this year’s new directory, which is smaller and more compact than they old version they’ve relied on their whole lives.

Senior Madeline Thorne brought her new phone book to the event Thursday so that she could toss it into the recycling bin with the others. She says the book isn’t much good to her anymore.

"Just the size of it, it’s unreal,” she said, flipping through it before tossing it out. “Next year we won't even have a book if this continues."

The seniors say the print in the new, more compact version is now so small, it’s essentially useless to them. Many say they are now being forced to routinely pay for directory assistance from the phone company.

The Saint John seniors group has sent a letter to the local phone company, Bell Aliant, and to Yellow Pages, to express their concerns. Neither company responded to them.

CTV News also attempted to speak to Bell Aliant, which referred us to Yellow Pages, which produces the books. Yellow Pages did not respond to requests for comments. CTV News and Bell Alliant are both owned by Bell.

The Montreal-based Yellow Pages has been phasing out home delivery of its directories in many urban markets, as it shifts towards digital apps and services. At the same time, the company has been moving to the more compact format across the country over the last few years.

Jean Steven says it’s not just seniors like her who are having a hard time reading the print; so are those with visual impairments.

"They have a very hard time with this. It's not worth the paper it's written on," she said.

Linda Nickerson, who is visually impaired, says it’s odd that the people who rely on the phone book the most are also the ones who can no longer use it.

"Seniors are the ones who use the phone book. Younger people are hip with technology," she said.

With a report from CTV Atlantic’s Mike Cameron


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