Earlier this year, Verizon started charging subscribers who dialled 411 for directory service. They charge 95 cents to look up local numbers and $1.50 for all others.
Next month, AT&T follows suit by cutting the number of free 411 calls offered to customers each month. You only get one now instead of three.
I wish they'll just divert some of that the money they spend on their ubiquitous TV ads to maintaining this basic service. It's not a big amount, for sure, but the way phone companies are piling on fees is just annoying, isn't it? Have you tried going through your phone bill, line by line? You might get cross-eyed from understanding all the obscure, small charges that add up to a lot.
But there's hope if you want to avoid 411 fees. I already wrote about another firm that offers free 411 call (with ads) before, but here's another one that's supposedly ad-free: it's 1-800-GOOG-411 or 1-800-466-4411. It's from the good folks at Google. There's one rant about it online, but the L.A. Times gave it a rave.