Simple Savings: Free directory assistance

(Columbia) July 3, 2003 - If you've forgotten a number, directory assistance might be an option for finding it. There was a time when calling the operator for a number didn't cost a cent. Now you have to pay, and those charges can really add up. But there are ways to find the number you want without spending a dime.

Ethan farber, Consumer Reports, is charged with keeping down phone costs. He became concerned when his computer records showed calls to directory assistance were costing the company plenty, "We were spending several hundred dollars a month on directory assistance calls."

Mari McQueen, who investigates telecommunication issues, also says calls you make from home to directory assistance can really add up, "Dialing directory assistance at 555-1212 can cost a dollar or two per call and many local carriers are charging for 411."

With a cell phone, calling directory assistance is also pricey. A dollar or more plus the airtime you use to make the call.

Instead of dialing directory assistance, try going online. There are several free websites that are really easy to use.

Mari McQueen explains how to look for a phone number online,"So you just type in the name you are looking for, say consumers union, the publisher of consumer reports. Then you put in the state. You don't even have to know the city. Hit 'find it' and voila."

On the internet, you can find the address you're looking for and the phone number. Some helpful web sites include, and

Consumer reports' employees are now using internet phone directories.  An easy way for your family to dial up some simple savings.

If you need to find a toll-free number, you're in luck. There's still no charge for directory assistance for toll-free numbers. You just dial 800-555-1212.

By Judi Gatson
Posted 5:33pm by Eva Pilgrim