Free 411 for a Short Ad

Here’s a quick tip that’s worth the trouble, we think: 1-800-FREE-411 (373-3411) is a totally free directly service. How do they make money?

The way it works in practice is that a caller who requests a business number is first presented with a short (about 12 seconds) audio advertisement for a sponsor who operates a competing business in that area; the caller is then given the option of being connected to either that competitor or the business he originally requested. If no sponsor operates a local competing business, then the caller hears no advertisement at all.

So you’ll wait a hair longer than you would with your phone company’s directory service, but we think 10-to-15 seconds of easily-ignored ads are worth the $2 or more charge you’ll often receive.

Free 411 [Snopes via BoingBoing]