Individuals located in the United States and Canada have dialed 4-1-1 for decades to reach local directory assistance for decades. One exception was in the Pacific Northwest, where people dialed 1-1-3 until the mid-1980s. The 411 number also has been used for long distance directory assistance. But, in recent years this number has gone through some changes to keep up with technology. This service also is known as: 411, 411 Services, Wireless Directory Assistance Services, Automated Directory Assistance Services, 4-1-1, Operator and Directory Assistance Services, 411 Directory Services, 4-1-1 Calls, Internet Directory Assistance Services, Wireline Directory Assistance Services, DA Services, 411 Calls, and 4-1-1 Services.
How It Works
Up until the mid-1980s, phone users dialed 411 to reach local directory assistance, and many states did not charge for that service. But, since that decade, charges have been applied for using that number. Approximately two to six billion calls are made to 411 within the United States each year, and this comprises a $7 billion per year market. Users also dial 411 for long distance directory service, although the traditional number for long distance directory service is 1-area code-555-1212. Now, wireless phone users can take advantage of a consumer-choice and privacy-protected "Wireless 411 Service." This service provides wireless customers with the choice of including their wireless phone numbers in voice 411. This service allows any landline or a wireless phone user to call 411 and be connected to the wireless listing of a person who has chosen to participate in this service.
Things to Look For
Consumers who choose to opt-in are assured that they will not have their information disclosed for print, online directories, lists, or telemarketing firms. Businesses that use wireless technology, however, may want to list a number with these services and that opportunity is available. This service has seen its share of debates, as proponents for the opt-in list want their numbers used, whereas other users are afraid that they may end up with a previous business number that has been listed, or that their number will end up in the database without warning. These listings, according to opponents, could end up misplaced or sold nefariously and begin an unending stream of unsolicited sales calls from telemarketers to numbers that will cost money to answer through wireless phones. Users also can find phone numbers using "free" 411 services online. For instance, Google added Goog-411 as a free telephone-based information service in 2007. Individuals dial 1-800-GOOG-411 to reach a completely automated service. Other online services exist as well, where you can type in the business name and location to find the number.