Directory Assistance or Directory Insanity

Directory Assistance or Directory Insanity

by Bob Branco

Years ago, calling Directory Assistance was very simple, but like many other things in modern society, it became very complicated for no reason at all. In the past, all you had to do was call 411 and an operator would respond to your request. Today, it’s a big ridiculous mess.

Image @ Wikimedia
Image @ Wikimedia

Let me describe the horror show of calling Comcast Directory Assistance. When you call 411, a voice welcomes you to Comcast Directory Assistance, but despite your introduction to Directory Assistance, you have to press one to get there. Once you are there, you are asked to give the city, state and listing through the use of voice recognition. Quite often, voice recognition doesn’t work. It will either say the wrong listing or ask you to repeat yourself. Eventually it gives up, and transfers you to an overseas operator.

Here’s what’s baffling. After everything you go through with voice recognition, the operator to whom you are transferred already knew the listing you wanted. So, if that’s the case, why did you have to go through fallible voice recognition for nothing? It doesn’t end there. When the overseas operator connects you to your listing, you have to listen to an advertisement unless you opt out by pressing zero.

Years ago, the Directory Assistance process probably took 30 seconds. Today, it takes two minutes. I thought life was supposed to get simpler with advanced technology. Apparently not. I realize that we can obtain telephone listings on line, but many of us either can’t or don’t want to go through the trouble.

I, like many others, are traditionalists because we know that the old methods are very easy to manage. Therefore, why subject ourselves to complications?

About the Author

Bob Branco resides in New Bedford, Massachusetts, and is a self-published author of four books. He is a community organizer, tutors persons with visual impairments, and has written columns for local and international organizations. Bob’s web site is

2 thoughts on “Directory Assistance or Directory Insanity

  1. I haven’t tried Directory Assistance in 10 years. I assumed if I couldn’t Google them I was out of luck

  2. Most online directory sites now charge for access to telephone numbers and what you get may be years out of date. Added to that, web searches reveal that several carriers have problems billing 411 calls with multiple charges being added to bills for months or years for a single 411 call. In other words, use 411 at your own risk and don’t trust the results.

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