Re: The 411 on Directory Assistance


> The New York Times > March 9, 2006 > Calling 411 for directory assistance can be maddeningly expensive. > Carriers like Sprint and Verizon charge more than $1 and sometimes as > much as $2 a call from a cellphone.. > And much of that is profit. Directory assistance "truly is a cash > cow," said Saroja Girishankar, a vice president at the Pelorus Group, > a telecommunications market research firm based in Raritan, N.J. She > and other industry analysts said that the carriers paid wholesalers -- > who actually provide the 411 service -- from 25 to 50 cents a call. > Naturally, the wireless carriers and directory assistance companies > want to keep the cash cow in their barn. But increasingly, customers > have access to free alternatives to 411. And as cellphones become more > sophisticated, the options for avoiding paid directory assistance are > multiplying. > Already, two new services -- 800-FREE-411 and 800-411-METRO -- offer > directory assistance free of charge, though users have to listen to > advertisements. > Other companies, including Google, offer free directory assistance via > text message. Soon, voice-activated search engines may make it > possible to bypass directory assistance entirely. One contender, the > Maestro system, a voice-activated search engine being developed at > Ben-Gurion University in Israel, will allow users to surf the Web just > by speaking and listening. > To keep users calling their paid 411 services, the major wireless > carriers have added features like horoscopes, sports scores and stock > prices. As cellular bandwidth increases, those offerings will go from > voice to text to multimedia, said Tom Moran, executive director of > product management and development for Verizon LiveSource. > (LiveSource, owned by Verizon Communications, handles about 1 billion > 411 calls a year for customers not only of Verizon Wireless, but of > T-Mobile, Cingular and Alltel.) >

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[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: I do not understand why people and > companies keep insisting on paying _obscenely high_ rates for DA when > there are so many alternatives to xxx-555-1212 and 411. The Directory > Assistance service this Digest recommends -- mainly because I do make > a wee bit of profit on it -- is 877-EASY-411. The charge is all of > *65 cents* for one or two inquiries, and it is billed your credit card > more or less monthly. (The inquiries for the month accumulated). 65 > cents per inquiry (or two) still makes money for the people who > operate the program and five or six cents for the Digest. So imagine, > if you will, the $1.25 to $2.00 per call charged by Verizon, AT&T, > SBC, Cingular Wireless and others, to picture the rip offs in this > business. > Now just as Divestiture allowed for '1010 calling' the '00' operator > and the default long distance 1+ carriers to be chosen by consumers, > it also allowed for '411' to be a consumer choice; but _just try_ to > get your telco to agree to send _your_ 411 traffic to the bureau of > your choice. They will not do it! They may, someday, if/when lawsuits > force them to comply with this provision, but until then, telco > continues to control the destiny of '411' itself; telco's own choice > of overpriced bureau, etc. People who do not like it, have to work > around it, just like years ago when we had to dial 950-whatever to > use MCI/Sprint. The service which sponsors the Digest is one such > example: You have to dial 1-877-327-9411, or 877-EASY-411. > Some users have built that into speed dial buttons on their phones. > Other users have added 'intercept boxes' (such as what Sandman offers) > to listen on line for '411' and on hearing it, to drop the connection > and immediatly dial 1-877-327-9411, at _65 cents per call_. > How do they know who to bill? Well, you enroll for the service by > going to
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to sign up. You provide up > to five numbers you would ordinarily use to call Directry > Assistance. You also provide it with the credit card number you wish > to have billed at monthly more or less intervals. When one of those > (up to five) phone lines dials into 877-327-9411 the 'caller ID' (or > ANI) captured is recorded and you are put straight through to the > _live, real-time_ directory assistance bureau and a live operator > answers. No need for PINS, little or no chance of cheating on your > credit card since presumably you control the (up to five) phone lines > used. Maybe one or two for your office, one or two for your home > numbers, one for your cell phone, etc. No need to 'login in', no need > for 'passwords' etc. Just dial 877-327-9411 and pass your request when > the operator answers. The ANI generated takes care of it all, and > about once per month (because it is very unrealistic and impractical > to submit a credit card charge for 65 cents each time an inquiry is > made) they are all batched up and charged to your card. For your > protection against abuse by others in your office, I think they will > set monthly 'credit cut-off levels' if you ask, and they do provide a > print out of your inquiries a few days before the credit card charge > is put through if you request it. There is NO fee to sign up, NO > monthly minimum usage, none of that stuff. Just 65 cents for one or > two inquiries. > If your computer has speakers/sound card you can hear a sample call to > EASY411 on their web site. Consider using EASY411 as your directory > assistance provider please. It is real time, as up to date as all such > bureaus are (within a day or two?), and you will be helping this Digest. >
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I don't know how much of a profit it is since the DA from Cell phones are handled by another company and the Telco contract with them.

The only good spammer is a dead one!! Have you hunted one down today? (c) 2006 I Kill Spammers, Inc. A Rot in Hell Co.

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Even from cell phones, you can and should be using EASY-411. Just set up a speed dial button on your cell phone; maybe '4' for example. Of course, first go onto
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and enroll that particular cellphone number, then never again use your cellphone's directory service. PAT]
Reply to
Steven Lichter
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