Mother of All Mavens

A whole lot o' nothing. And then someā€¦

Hello? Um, yes, I’d like the phone number for….insert any name of your choice… And then ask yourself the last time you uttered these words.
Does anybody use 411 anymore? Y’know, directory inquiries? The one they charge a whole dollar for and yet get wrong half the time because you’ve said one name and they’ve heard another? I don’t. I’m not a cheapskate but when it comes to those little charges I become ever so thrifty. It bugs me giving the phone companies even a dollar more than I absolutely have to. What? It adds up!
Sometimes this backfires. I recently switched phone companies. It was my way of saying “up yours” to Bell Canada. Sadly, I soon learned that their competitor’s call answer service totally sucked. I returned to Bell after a measly 3 weeks, tail between my legs. And they charged me 50 bucks! I said “up yours”. They said “right back atcha”. Sheesh.
Still, that’s just my local phone company. As in, for local calls. When it comes to the big bucks, the long distance calls, I’m off the board for a hundred. Several hundred if I stuck with Bell. Nope, for the long distance VIP calls, I use CIBC Guaranteed Proof. Anyone with a CIBC Aerogold Visa can get it (sorry non-Canucks). They compare and contrast the prices of Bell, Sprint and Rogers, find the cheapest option and then minus 10% before charging it to your credit card and sending you a statement. Sure there are waaaaay cheaper long distance options around, but I can’t be bothered typing in extra phone numbers, using PIN’s etc. See? Sometimes I cheap out, sometimes I don’t.
But with 411? Total tight-ass.
Miser central here goes for the old fashioned phone book or the on-line directory. Trouble is, the on-line directory only works sometimes. It’s true! Last night I had a friend over who tried finding a listing on It was a no-show on my computer. And yet when she let her fingers do the walking over her own home keyboard – voila! Like magic, her listing appeared. I don’t get it. But computers are weird and have tendencies to be possessed, so what do I know about that….
One thing I do know, is that when you turn 65 you become an official Senior Citizen. Old, but entitled. Aside from discounts at children’s attractions (what the hell??), movies, and public transit, you get free 411. That’s right, if you make it to 65, you get free Directory Inquiry. Now there’s a perk if I’ve ever heard one.
But guess what? We don’t have to wait ’til we’re 65 anymore!! Anyone and their uncle can now access 411 for free! Yup, gratis. All you need to do is dial 1-800-FREE 411. I swear! I just tried it. It works anywhere in North America (sorry Euros). The nice computer lady asks you for city and state, but don’t be put off, Canadians. It’s kinda funny – when I said Canada, the computer voice asked me if I meant Indiana. And soon I was redirected to a real genius of an operator who was trying to find a listing for Quebec City instead of in Quebec City….

OK, so if you’re after an operator who’s a clever sort, you may be disappointed. But if it’s free 411 you’re after, here’s the golden ticket: 1 800 FREE 411.


Anonymous said…

Yo– Mary J. Blige, thanks for the tip!

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