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The 411 on 411………………

July 8, 2011

I have a teenage son, so in addition to everything else I must accomplish in a day, I am also a chauffeur extraordinaire.  

My son and his friend wanted to see a movie. So I had to decide which was the lesser of two evils – him sitting in a dark room playing Xbox with people who might not really exist – or taking him to a movie with his friend (who happens to really exist) to sit in a dark room and watch characters who definitely do not exist.

Xbox is free – the movie costs money and taking them required me to get off my b.u.t.t. and go out in the heat. So off we go to the movie where I can at least pretend he might have some real-life human interaction.

I drove them to the theater and dropped them off and told them I would be back in 2 hours.

I ran a few quick errands and got back to the parking lot and waited. And waited. And waited some more.

With my keen powers of deductive reasoning, I started to think that the movie might actually be longer than 2 hours.

So, I called information (411) to get the number for said movie theater. And, yes, it was the movie theater that I was parked right in front of and yes, I could have just gotten out (and walked all the way across the street) and simply asked the movie professionals what time the movie was over. And yes, it turns out that would have been m.u.c.h. faster. But that would have left you without the absolute pleasure of reading about my 411 experience. (See the sacrifices I am willing to make for you, dear readers?) Plus it was hot outside. And I (thought I) had technology on my side.

I dialed 411 and was asked the city and state. Told them. Was then asked what listing I wanted. Told them.

Dead silence.

Then this……”Ma’am, there is no listing for that number. Are you sure there is a movie theater there?”

I have to say I was pretty surprised by that answer. If I was looking for a sherpa at the foot of Mt. Everest, I might understand the no listing response. But I was asking for the number of a movie theater – in a pretty big town. Seems that would be kind of a routine request. It seems the 411 operator might have some knowledge of how to find that nugget of info.

I told her I was pretty sure. In fact, I was sitting right in front of it.

She checked again and started to believe that either aliens had either abducted the movie theater and taken it back to their home planet or I was nuts.

But she simply said, “Ma’am, I cannot find that listing.”

I know that the price of 411 calls has gone up, so I said, “you won’t charge me for this call, right?”

“Uhm, Ma’am, when you call four-one-one, you are actually paying for the service not the results of that service. Yes, we will still be charging you.”

Excuse me?

So, you basically call me a liar, liar, pants on fire for asking for a number that (according to you) does not exist – you do not give me said number – and you are going to charge me for service? Did I miss something?

“Yes, you are paying us to look up the number – whether or not we find it. I can transfer you to our service department if you would like.”

That would be marvelous.

I got transferred to a new chickadee who could also not find the number. I also asked her if I would be charged for the call.

“Yes. You are paying for the service.”

Got it.

I showed great restraint and did not ask her which  dictionary (or language) she was using to define “service” because not giving me what I asked for me and then charging me for it does not really equal “service” in my dictionary or my wallet.

I asked for a manager and the second chickadee told me she could transfer me to 611 – their customer service department. Being a customer who would like some actual service, I asked her to transfer away.

Then I heard “beep, transferring your call to 611” – and then – and no, I am not kidding – “your call cannot be completed as dialed.” And then another beep.


The bottom line here is that two different 411 operators could not find the number for a movie theater in a major metropolitan area and one  of them was incapable of pushing three numbers on her phone and following it up with hitting “send” effectively and I was going to get charged – wait for it – one dollar and seventy nine cents for their “service”.

Deep cleansing breath.

My blackberry has a web2go feature – so I entered (correctly) the search terms: movie…. theater….name of the major metropolitan area… and wahlah – the name, number, address, and movie listings came up for said theater.

After calling the number and asking when the movie was over and doing some pretty high level math, I realized I was an hour early for movie pickup.


Plenty of time to call TMobile and ask again why I was being charged to not get a telephone number.

TMobile was all loverly. That spunky little chickadee even said – and I quote – it doesn’t really make sense that they could not find the number of a movie theater in a major city. That isn’t very helpful is it? (Yes, I think I love her.)

She held my hand and dabbed my wallet and told me she could remove the charge.

Now we’re talking.

And to fully absolve TMobile of any wrongdoing, she kindly explained that 411 is its very own entity and calls are not routed through or in any way handled by TMobile. And it turns out that you do in fact get charged whether or not they give you a number – and even if they give you a wrong number.

But it also turns out that you can call your carrier and have that charge removed.

I heart TMobile. 411 – not so much!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. girlsmom permalink
    July 8, 2011 12:55 pm

    I ❤ the web browser on my blackberry where I can look up most numbers for "free" (if you don't count the fee I pay for unlimited web service). You are so diligent to pursue that charge removal–way to stand up for the principle of the thing! And thanks for sharing–no more 411 for me.

  2. July 8, 2011 10:10 am

    timing 🙂 i was just perusing my reader … and yours probably popped up right as I was almost done with my list … cuz then when I hit “next” yours was the last 🙂

  3. July 8, 2011 9:55 am

    lemme guess, they went to the new Transformers movie? That sucker was L-O-N-G !! The final battle scene was a flippin’ hour!

    Good for you for not giving up on it, and getting that charge removed!

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