While surfing the net, I found this and I thought of sharing this to you guys out there to save on your 411 calls. I forgot where I found it and I do apologize to the person who initially posted this for not mentioning his name here. Nevertheless, I thank you for your wonderful article. If ever you read this, feel free to post your name here so you can be rightfully acknowledged as the owner of the article. I have made some revisions since the article was made in 2003 and there has been a lot changes since then.
Here are some tips for calling directory assistance. It may be a little long, but it will help you in the long run, as will a little common sense!
1. Have a pen and paper ready when calling directory assistance, as some numbers may not be directly connected. If the audio message giving the number does not give you the option to be connected, you will have to write it down and dial it yourself.
2. Directory assistance operators can search by name or phone number and if you have an exact address. They can also do reverse number searches.
3. If you're searching by name for a residence, you must have at least the last name. If it's a common last name, you'll need more information. If it's a common first and last name, you'll need more information. So, if you're looking for Robert Williams in Phoenix, you'll need an address as well! (Sometimes a middle initial or wife's name will help.) Please have all of this information readily available, as the operators are on time restraints. If there are more than three listings possible for your request, the operator can't read you a list. You may need to call back, when you get further information.
4. If you do not know the name of the business for which you're looking, the operator will need at least part of the name and a street address. You need to know the name of the company for the operator to help you.
5. Speak clearly into the phone, without food in your mouth! If all works correctly and no questioning is needed, you'll get your number within ten seconds! Turn down the TV or radio. Tell the kids to be quiet. Put the dog away. Distractions waste time. This is good to remember when calling anyone, just common courtesy.
6. If you're searching by phone number, you need the area code and the entire number. Cell phones and payphones are not listed. If you search by number and the operator tells you that the number is not listed, this doesn't mean that the number doesn't exist. It could mean that it is a non-published or unlisted number, a cell phone number, an internal business line (common with telemarketers), or a payphone.
7. Directory assistance is for names, numbers and addresses only. Some phone providers have enhanced services like movie times, weather information, etc. Do not ask for general information. If you want to know how to make French toast, call your Mom or Grandma or buy a recipe book! Seriously folks!
8. If you are searching for a business and dial 1-411, you'll need to know at least the state in which the business is located or both you and the operator will be spending a lot of time just searching for that in different states. That means air time if you are using your cellphone!
9. There are times when residential, business and government listing are simply not listed. Some choose not to be listed.
10. When the operator searches for a business, government or residential listing, the surrounding areas are also searched.
11. Please do not yell or swear at the operators. They will do everything humanely possible to find it for you but if it's really not listed, then let it be. You may want to accept their alternate solutions so as not to waste your call.
12. A listing that is non-published is not available at all. No information is available. The operator doesn't even have the number! And they will not be able to confirm or deny the address or location because it is blocked out. The reason for this is that the customer you're requesting information for pays for these services. They do not want their information given out. If they want you to have it, you'll already have it. Saying falsely "I'm with the police" or "But, it's my Mom" will get you nowhere. No Exceptions!
13. You are charged for each directory assistance call, so keep your kids away from the phone. And again, be prepared to give information and receive information. The operator is not able to "hold on a minute." That would mean you air time for you as well if you prolong your calls.
14. Politely ask for credit if you got a wrong number and you'll receive more than the credit they'll give you. You'll be serviced better by them.
15. There are several locations throughout the country that answer your phone call to directory. So, the operator that you receive is most likely not physically in the area that you're calling about. This is a misconception of many people. If service is available they will provide you with directions going to a place but don't ask them if they know a certain Bill in the area.
16. Remember that not all numbers are updated immediately. It could be updated in 24 hours or 24 days. It also depends on how fast the phone company of that person/business gets it in. Directory doesn't have dates on their information. If it's new, they may not have it yet.
17. If the business name you're looking for is common, like Pizza Hut or McDonalds, you may need to give additional information like zip or street to narrow their search. Again, if there are more than three listings with that name, you'll have to give the operator more information or take the first number and hope that business can help you.
18. In some instances, it is helpful if you know what department you need for any given business or government agency. Otherwise, the main number will be given. If there is no indication of a main line, then they'll usually explain what they're giving.
19. If you want a listing verbally, please inform them immediately so as not to be connected automatically as that is the standard with most providers.
20. When calling directory assistance, you are allowed 3 different listings per call (for some providers, it's 4). If the same listing has many numbers, you are allowed three of them per call. If you are looking for 3 different listings, please read number 1.
21. Cell phone numbers are not listed. 98% of the time fax machine numbers are not listed. Pay phones are not listed and not all departments are listed for every business.
22. Be more specific with your request at the onset. If you want a personal listing or business listing, let the operator know asap. Some business names sound like residence names and vice versa. Asking for "Mr Gattis" will get you a business listing, if one is available. If you are looking for Dr Sam Jones' home number let them know asap. Titles of names are sometimes not listed in the residential listings. It may just be listed just as Sam Jones.
23. Directory assistance operators can not break through on a phone line. Or check a phone number or line. It is because they have limited dialing capabilities.
Always have as much information available as you can, in case further information is needed. The operators want to get you the right information in a timely manner.
There's one more thing that I've found out. If you accidentally got routed to 411 and you were calling someone else, most likely the number has changed or been disconnected. Usually you get a machine that tells you this. If you did not dial a number and your phone rings and they pick up, there's something wrong with your phone line or they're just on the line when you pick up your phone. You'll have to call your phone company using a different phone line to see what's wrong
Here are some numbers you can call if you want to save on your directory assistance calls:
They offer the same services (FREE of Charges) but as far as I know, the first two is automated( I think there is an option to get a live operator if the machine can't get it). The last one, 1-800-411SAVE is the only one with live operators who will assist you at the onset of your call. They also have residential and government listings aside from business listings. Check out their website http://1800411save.com/ for their services. You may have to listen to some ads that will run for 10-15 seconds but in my opinion it's worth the wait if you are getting it for free.