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411 Listing Problems

When Your Business is Missing from 411 – 411/Directory Assistance listing errors and omissions are occurring with increasing frequency, and this trend is likely to continue. That’s because phone companies (telcos) are cutting corners on services like directory assistance in order to reduce costs and offer lower rates. You’d think these would be easy problems to fix, but they can originate from many sources, and locating them—not to mention correcting them—is not only difficult but sometimes impossible.

Here are the 3 most likely causes for a number not coming up in 411:

  1. Information is omitted or listed incorrectly with the local utility telco. In most cases, this can be corrected by working directly with the local utility phone company (AT&T in most of California, CenturyLink in most of the Pacific Northwest, etc). Changes are reflected in 411 within several working days.
  2. Phone service has been switched from the local utility telco to an independent telco, and the independent has submitted the information incorrectly with the utility telco. In this case, only the independent company (neither us nor the utility telco) can fix the problem, and this can be very difficult to get them to do. This applies to large reputable companies like AT&T (providing phone service in competition with the utility telco), as well as small local resellers. Customers usually make these switches in order to save money, but this can cause a number of problems with your business listing information. For more information, see our page on CLEC phone service issues.
  3. Information is listed correctly with the local utility telco, regardless of your service, but appears incorrectly in some other database (mobile, online, etc). Problems can arise not only from the utility telco’s 411 database but from any other database that pulls from it. That is, even if there is no problem on the local utility telco end, there could be a problem with the way another database is pulling a particular bit of information from it. This is analogous to your name or address being wrong on a mailing list, which is, in turn, duplicated many times.

While it is sometimes impossible to determine the source of the error, the source must be identified in order for it to be corrected, and even then it can take time for the correction to trickle down. Other databases pull from the local utility’s 411 at varying intervals—sometimes days, weeks, or even months—so even if a problem has been corrected at the source, it's impossible to predict how long that information will take to filter down to other databases.

Online Listing Problems With Offline Sources – People often assume that when a problem arises with an online business listing, the source of the problem is online. When troubleshooting online business listings, we recommend - before anything else - checking with the local phone service provider of the listing in question as to the appearance of the listing in their database.

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