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Your How To Source: Issues of Value, Ethics, Human Needs and Deeds       Edited by Heinz Dinter, PhD

Don’t pay for directory assistance (2006-10-03)

Using directory assistance can be expensive; most phone companies now charge for this service. In Washington State, Qwest and Verizon customers pay $1.25 per call. Dial some long distance directory services and you could find yourself socked with charge that tops $3.00.

Jump online and you’ll find a bunch of phone directory sites that will give you business and residential numbers for free, sites such as Switchboard, AnyWho, White Pages or Dex Online.

But what if you don’t have a phone book and you can’t access the Internet? Sometimes paying for directory assistance call is your only option. Not anymore.

Now you can get phone numbers for free over the phone. There are three companies offering this service: 1-800-Free411, (, 1-800-411Save, ( and 1-800-411 Metro ( In Canada, the free service is available at

There’s no charge because these are advertiser-supported services. That’s right; you must listen to a 10-15 second commercial before you’re given the number or connected for free.

When calling 1-800-Free411 and asking for a local restaurant, the computer-generated voice says, “While we search for that number, let me tell you about Domino’s. Connect now, and you can get three medium one-topping pizzas for just $5 each.” Then you are given the option to take advantage of the pizza deal or get connected to the number you requested. Chose to get connected and that is it.

In many cases, especially when asked for a residential or government listing, there is no commercial announcement.

Are you willing to listen to a 15-second announcement for a pizza place, hotel, computer service, or window installation company in return for free directory assistance? Why not?



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