Get free 411 directory assistance that really works (a review)
Your phone company is charging you anywhere from 50 cents to $2 for a 411 call. Now you can get the exact same service completely free by using 1-800-FREE-411 (1-800-3733-411).
It works just like a regular 411 call. The only catch is that you have to listen to a 15-second ad, which isn't too bad considering the ads are often contextual (e.g. if you asked for Dominoes Pizza listing, you might get a Pizza Hut ad before you get the number you wanted).
One of our writers gave it try tonight. Listen to the result:
(If you can't use the audio player above, here's the link to the recording.)
The voice recognition technology is excellent, but live operator assistance is also available when the computer is not up to the task.
This free 411 service has been around since last year, but it never really took off the way I thought it would. Americans make 6 billion 411 calls a year and only three percent of them are using the Free411 service. My guess is most people thought this was a cool idea when they first heard about it but never bothered to try the service.
Some people may have been deterred by certain misunderstandings regarding the service. Let's clear some of those up:
- There are hidden charges right? No. The service has been around for at least a year and has stayed completely free.
- It is free so it must be always busy or buggy! This used to be true when the service first came out, but this company has since received a $30 million cash infusion from investors and has successfully handled over 100 million calls. It is currently handling 600,000 calls a day. I've been using this service for over a month and have never experienced any problems.
- Will this attract telemarketers? This is not a concern. Free411 does not share your phone numbers with any telemarketers. Besides, if you haven't done so already, you should register your phone numbers with the National Do Not Call Registry.
- I need to sign up or something right? No. This service does not require the use of a website. You use this service exactly the same way you use 411.
- I hear you have to listen to offensive ads. I think you might be referring to the Girls Gone Wild ads. Yes, that is a scandalous company but the actual ad is not that bad. It's just a girl telling you how to order their videos. No gruesome details involved.
- Isn't AT&T also offering the same service for free? Yes, but only in limited areas for now. AT&T will be offering a similar ad-supported service through 1-800-YellowPages (1 800 935-5697) in Bakersfield, Calif.; Oklahoma City, Okla.; and Columbus, Ohio.
- Is it true that you can bypass the computer by saying "help me Obi Wan Kenobi, you are my only hope!" Yes, this is 100% true. You do have to say it twice, though. But you don't have to be as whiny as Carrie Fisher.
And if you need more reasons to switch, check out this CNBC review (video link) or just take a look at how much you are being
gouged charged when you use the standard 411 service:
|Charges|| Long Distance Providers
P.S. A special thanks to Jason Mandell for updating me with the latest info and corrections.