Save Money. Dial Up An Ad.

If you want to save money, erase 1-800-555-1212 from your memory.

Not long ago, the price of a cup of coffee got you a phone number from directory assistance. Now, calling 411 will nick you for the price of a Starbucks coffee.
But take heart. A new crop of 800 services is offering free directory assistance. The catch: You first have to listen to a commercial for up to 15 seconds.
The newest of the three entrants, 1-800-411-SAVE, is launching nationwide Tuesday after trials in Chicago and San Francisco.
Typical landline directory-assistance from the big phone companies costs $1.25 a call, but out-of-region listings are often $1.99 and can range as high as $3.49, says Kathleen Pierz of the Pierz Group, a research company. A wireless 411 call generally costs $1.50.
In the mid-1990s, directory assistance typically cost about 35 cents.
As landline call volumes, including 411, have plunged, carriers have boosted 411 prices to grow or stabilize revenue



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.