May 14, 2007

Superpages are Superuseless

In the past, I’ve found a useful tool for locating people and things in the online Superpages. Now, it’s become so overgrown with advertisements for things that I don’t want and that are located so far out of my way that it’s completely useless.

I know that the first twenty or so entries I see will be paid-for advertisements with dynamic taglines like "Michael's Beachside Bicycles! Proudly Serving 93551 Since 1974!" I know those dynamic tag lines will be lies -- foul, damned lies which will do nothing but waste my time and make me say bad words.

For instance, I tried to find local Italian restaurants while my parents were here. I got a listing for Louise’s Trattoria in Redondo Beach and a pizzeria in West Covina. Huh? As the crow flies, these places are about fifty miles from the ZIP code I put in. Driving, it could easily take two hours to get to these restaurants.

Today at work, I tried to find a real estate office I need to deal with on a case, whose address seems to be nowhere to be found in our own database. Once again, I got listings so far afield (in Glendora, Oceanside, and Indio) that it’s just plain ridiculous.

You would think somebody programming an online phone directory would give half a thought to distance and travel time when putting together their algorithms for advertising. People in the Antelope Valley don’t particularly want to hire plumbers from Long Beach or Diamond Bar.

I realize some people consider the Antelope Valley to be the ass end of civilization; and yes, if you ask the editors of Los Angeles Magazine, we may as well be a small seal-hunting and methamphetamine-producing village in Nunavut (and they aren't real fond of other distant in-county outposts like Westlake or Pomona, either). But the Superpages aren’t supposed to be about looking down your nose at philistines who use the wrong kind of dental floss; they're supposed to help ordinary consumers find ordinary products. And here, we’ve got something close to half a million people in our six zip-code area – making this community larger than Knoxville, Tennessee. So you would think that the advertisers might be able to get some approximation of service for a community of that size rather than just lumping every listing into a grab-bag for called "Los Angeles County."

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