What’s the 411?

Internet offers free directory assistance

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When you don’t have a telephone book at your fingertips, it’s easy to dial 411 for local telephone numbers and 555-1212 for any long distance numbers. But any directory assistance phone calls that you make will cost up to $1.50 per call. Furthermore, according to a special report on Dateline NBC, consumers are given the wrong number one-third of the time when they dial these service providers.

You can save a great deal of time, energy, and money by simply using the Internet to locate your desired phone numbers through several free or low-cost Websites. Founded in 1995, Switchboard.com (www.switch board.com) was the first company to promote a free, national directory of U.S. information. It allows consumers to search names, phone numbers, and street addresses for friends, colleagues, and businesses in a matter of seconds. Other helpful, free Websites include Who Where (www.whowhere.com), Infospace (www.infospace.com), and 411 (www.411.com).

The Website 555-1212.com (www .555-1212.com), which is not associated with the 555-1212 land-based, telephone information service, provides comprehensive directory assistance for businesses and individuals. Once a free service, the company now charges for it. Consumers can buy a block of 100 look-ups for a one-time fee of $9.95. Subscription packages can be purchased for $24.95 per month (280 look-ups), $39.95 per month (500 look-ups), and $69.95 per month (1,000 look-ups).

“We feel that it is important for consumers to have an alternative to rising prices,” says Lisa Gaynes, president of 555-1212.com. “We update our information quarterly in order to give people accurate information in a cost-efficient manner.”