Goog411 vs. Free411 vs. Tellme — who is better?

Cell Phone PadFollowing the recent launch of Google’s free 411 service, I decided to take a closer look at the three competitors offering free directory assistance and compare them side by side.

The notes below is the result of my investigation. If you have used any of these services, please leave your feedback in the comments.

Goog411 — dial 1-800-GOOG-411

Google service is the only one that actually connects you to the phone number you requested. The other two will just give you details, or will send them to you via SMS. This by itself can be a deal breaker for some when choosing which service to use. It often happens that you don’t have a pen handy or need to make a call on the go, and the ability to connect right away can be critical.

The absence of ads is a big plus as well. The 20 seconds you spend listening to ads is your time to lose.

Voice quality is the worst of all. I hope it improves though. The introductory recording mentions that it is an experimental product, and I hope for gradual improvements.

Free411 — dial 1-800-FREE-411 or 1-888-FREE-411

Free411 which I reviewed before, is the only service of the three that offers live operator support. While the other two try to resolve errors by either asking you to repeat the name or by offering alternative search options (by category for example), Free411 turns you over to an operator after the first or second unsuccessful attempt to recognize what you are saying.

The navigational menu is better than Google but worse than Tellme, in my opinion. The voice menu quality is similar to Tell me.

I personally found that Free411 has the most lengthy and distracting ads of the three services. This is a big minus. Could it be due to the live operator support? My guess is that it is human labor what brings costs up for Jingle Networks, the service operator, which in turn prompts them to put up more ads.

Tellme — dial 1-800-555-TELL

Tellme Networks (now a part of Microsoft) seems to offer the most solid product of all. Here are my notes.

The menu sounded the most naturally of all three services. For example when I was looking for Jewel Osco, the prompt sounded like this “found 2 in your city, would you like the one on ABC or XYZ street?”. This is much more natural way of saying it rather than listing all choices and repeating “Jewel Osco” each time.

The voice recording often doesn’t confirm the successful match which causes false positive errors. This is certainly a drag, especially if you have bad line quality. I didn’t notice this problem with the other two services.

Tellme is the only service that saved my last search and offered it as an option when I called next time. I find it very useful for the cases when my call drops and I have to call back.

Bonus features by Tellme

My biggest discovery with Tellme was that it is so much more than a free directory assistance. You can use it to look up stock quotes, check sports events, listen to local weather forecast, verify movie show times and even buy movie tickets directly from your phone!

In addition, for cell phone geeks, if you are a lucky owner of one of these phones, you can install the recently launched Tellme mobile application which will allow you to query the directory assistance interactively from your cell phone and to lookup the location and driving directions on a map. Isn’t that cool?!

Photo is courtesy of JonJon2k8 at Flickr

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5 Responses to “Goog411 vs. Free411 vs. Tellme — who is better?”

  1. 1 Julie S May 10th, 2007 at 12:21 pm

    1-800-Free411 is continually striving to enhance and simplify our caller’s experience. In one of our more recent efforts we’ve introduced a “yellow pages” search that enables the caller to find a business that meets their needs without requesting a specific business listing. Callers can search, browse and connect to businesses from a list of relevant merchants across the U.S. using keywords similar to an Internet search. Our advertising is – we hope – relevant to your searches and we strive to offer opportunities and discounts that enhance the value of the service to you.

  2. 2 M Rangel Feb 24th, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    Goog411 is by far the best service I’ve received. It’s fast and they connect you to the number…

  3. 3 Jon E Jun 30th, 2010 at 9:07 am

    I used 800-free-411 last month. After listening to advertising, I accidentially accepted a text service (Textea), which proceeded to charge me $9.99/mo. When receiving a text, I promptly opted out but to no avail, was charged $9.99. After calling AT&T, the charges were reversed. Note: Textea is in business because many people don’t notice the charges (I can see how, my company cell bill is over $500/mo). Pay close attention to your bills.

  4. 4 Tom Oct 18th, 2010 at 8:42 pm

    When you call Goog411 they say the service will be discontinued in November 2010. Major disappointment.

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