Free 411 Service

FREE-411Since we are on the free telephony subject I want to mention another awesome free service that saves me $5-$10 every month — free directory assistance: 1-800-FREE-411 (or 1-888-FREE-411). The service seems to be the only one left. The competitors (411-SAVE and 411-METRO) are either struggling financially or have closed down.

How does it work and how can it stay free? It sounds like there are a few things involved.

  • First, the company attempts to trim costs on operators. Before you get to talk to a live operator you will have to say the city, state and name of the business to the computer. If you are not lucky (the name is not recognised after 2 attempts) you will have to wait around 10-20 seconds to be transferred to a live person.
  • Second, after they know your number they don’t tell it to you right away but first make you listen to a short advertising of some supposedly related business. The recording keeps naming the advertiser and asking you to “press 2 to get connected” during the call which I think is confusing since I am used to 411 service connecting me to the number I requested and not some different one.
  • Third, they will never forward your call to your number automatically. You have to write it down and dial manually. This helps the company save on long distance calls.

That is basically it. If you have the time and are willing to deal with the relative inconvenience of a free call to save you for a pack of bubble gum each time you dial 411 then add 1-800-FREE-411 to your phone book for quick dialing.

Just make sure you add FREE-411 and not 411-FREE. A call to the other number instead of saving may actually end up costing you a fortune. ;-)

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