OK, I'm going to let the cat out of the bag. I remember when telephone directory assistance was free. Actually I remember when you spoke to an actual operator when you dialed "0" and could ask her for a phone number. OK, I remember when we didn't have area codes. OK, I don't remember when you had to call the operator just to place a local call. BUT, I have heard the story of when my father called his mother from Europe (he was a soldier in WWII) and the local operator told him that she knew his mother wasn't at home because she had seen her walking up the street to the beauty parlor. Would he like her to connect him to the beauty parlor? He said, yes. She did AND she listened to the call and everyone in town knew what he had said before my grandmother told them. True story.
Free directory assistance? Could this be true? YES! I don't lie. Is there a catch? YES! Of course there is. But the catch isn't too bad, considering that (depending on your phone carrier) you could save anywhere from $1.25 to $3.49 (according to the 1-800-FREE-411 web site.)
Here's how it works.
You call 1-800-FREE-411 and you hear a short (10 second) advertisement. You are asked if you want to be connected to the advertiser. If you do nothing, then you are asked some questions that lead you to getting the phone number you are looking for. Supposedly, there is also a way to get driving directions. There is another advertisement and then the number is read to you. It is read THREE times so that you can actually get it written down. You can also do this whole thing in text messages. (Don't ask me how, I don't text.)
This seems like a pretty good deal. HOWEVER, I can tell that if you are mentally "zoning" that you can accidentally get yourself connected to advertisers. You can also accidentally get yourself opted in to some text messaging advertising. So, if you are going to use this service, BE AWAKE! Listen to the entire prompt. This site is not for the mentally challenged.
That being said, I think this is an AWESOME deal and a great service. Their FAQ section is very good and makes you feel (rightly or wrongly) that they are trustworthy and really aren't trying to rip you off or send you spam if you don't want it.
So, you no longer can use the excuse that you left your brother's phone number at home and couldn't afford directory assistance to get the number and that's why you didn't call him on his birthday. You'll have to think up a new excuse.