This morning I needed a phone number while driving to work. I despise paying whatever the cost is to get a phone number from information. Perhaps this is because the same information is freely available on the web. I was going to just look up the number on the phone’s browser at a traffic light but I remembered someone recently told me about 800-Free411.
I think I may have heard this at the last ITEXPO in San Diego but I am not 100% sure. So anyway I tried dialing the number – thinking whether the number starts with 800 or 888. I couldn’t remember for sure.
The phone was answered and an automated greeting walked me through the process of city, state and listing. On the third try – I was connected to a very pleasant live operator who found the number for me.
Just before I got the number I received a prerecorded greeting from Flamingo Bay in Vegas who was offering a free getaway.
I was enamored by the service and called it again. This time it told me if I pressed 9 I could get the last number the service gave me. Very slick. The system will also SMS you the number. You are charged for the minutes you use from your cell phone but with so many people buying buckets of minutes they never use, this shouldn’t be a problem.
The concept of free service sponsored by ads is not new but I hope the company does well and that advertisers embrace such services. Why? These are the kinds of services that are fun to use, fun to write about and they disrupt current business models for the benefit of consumers.
In a weird way the mobile operators who have the most to lose from such a service could end up making more money on SMS revenue generated by 800Free411. In theory, more people will use the service because it is free and that means more SMS messages being sent.
If you use the service feel free to leave your comments below for others to read about.

  • Tom Keating
    January 11, 2007 at 12:03 pm

    It was probably me me in this post on 800FREE411 or you read my Free SkypeOut Dialing hack which also mentions 1800FREE411.

  • Gil
    August 30, 2007 at 11:58 am

    I read your blog on 800free411. I am curious if by using this service one is providing the company with a cell number which will then be sold to marketers. Listening to a short promo is fair exchange for the service but but if it means getting inundated with marketing calls on one’s cell then it may not be worth it. Landlines are torture because of that. I will try to find out but wondered if you already knew.

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