When was the last time you needed a phone number and had no choice but to call 411? Nancy Allen knows that feeling.
"As a home health care nurse I am constantly on the road," says Nancy. "It's easy to get the number from directory assistance using my cell phone, but I hate paying $1.50 for one little call. My bill is high enough already."
Nancy certainly isn't alone. The U.S. directory assistance business is a multi-billion dollar industry funded by one little call at a time. A 411 call from your cell phone can cost up to $1.79 per call and the same call from a land-line can cost up to $3.50.
Whats a frugal consumer to do?
You can continue to throw out your money, or you can build your bank account by checking out two free directory assistance services available today.
Google Voice Local Search
Although it is famous for their search engine, Google also offers a free directory assistance service called Google Voice Local Search. Available from any phone, you can dial 1-800-GOOG-411 (1-800-466-4411) and Google will give you the listing of any business in the U.S.
You can search by a specific business name or a category name. Once the business is found Google can connect you at no charge. In addition, if youre calling from a wireless phone, Google can send you the details by text message.
Google Voice Local Search is currently in a testing phase, so there might be kinks in the system. Furthermore, the system does not currently provide residential listings, unlike another free service called 1-800-FREE-411.
1-800-FREE-411 from Jingle Networks, Inc., allows you to access the same directory assistance database used by traditional phone companies, except without the annoying charge.
There are no limits on how many directory assistance calls you can make, and it doesnt matter if the call is from a land-line or cell phone.
Based on the same model used by numerous websites, 1-800-FREE-411 gives you the information you need -- at no cost -- because the service is supported by advertisers.
And now a word from our sponsors
Lets say you need the number of a specific insurance company. You dial 1-800-FREE-411 (1-800-373-3411) and are greeted with an automated system that will ask for the city and state. Next youre asked if the number belongs to a residence, business, or government agency.
Heres where 1-800-FREE-411 differs from traditional 411.
Instead of automatically hearing your requested number, youll first hear an advertisement, typically 10 to 12 seconds in length. In our example, you might hear an ad for a different insurance company. Youre then provided the number you requested and also given the option to be connected to the company that was advertised.
Notice that although you can be connected to the company that was advertised you wont be connected to the number you requested. Make sure and have pen and paper on hand to write down your number.
If requesting a residential number, the advertisement could be anything from an upcoming TV program to a vacation package from a travel agency.
Additionally, keep in mind that based on your wireless plan, you could still use up your minutes even though the call is toll free.