We need something like the UK's 0870 and 0845 numbers -- premium rate numbers where the calls are something like $0.10 and $0.25 a minute regardless of the number called on the service regardless of which service was called.
These numbers would be handiue for some automated services like GOOG-411, automated sport score lines, some tech support lines, some discount international call services, etc. People are scared of 900 numbers because the service provider sets the rates and you can have some teenager run up ten thousand dollar calling a sex hotline.
I recognize that these numbers don't work perfectly, In the UK, the numbers have been abused somewhat. I've seen movie theaters have 0870 numbers for their movie listings. On whole, however, I think they are valuable.
You REALLY do not want 0870/0845.
I don't particularly enjoy being able to call Paypal, for example, internationally to the US than it is to call Paypal UK. Same for other multinational companies who will have 800/877/888 in the US, and 0871 (worst of the lot for charges) here.
Why? Because a portion of the call cost can be shared to the company - why pay for people to call YOU about a fault YOU made, when people can pay themselves?
And they are not "premium rate", just the very blurry "local" and "national" rate - even though BT threw out distance based charging a few years ago for geographical numbers.
Premium rate numbers are 09xx, which are much more expensive and far more tightly regulated.