I've been updating the Random Pub Finder to include phone numbers for the pubs on the site and during my Internet searches I've discovered that a few pub websites are showing 0871 numbers, rather than the actual pub's phone number. The phone call costs 10p a minute and the website gets a cut of the money made.
I don't have a problem with advertising on websites as a way to cover costs, so long as it's low key and relevant to the site. Certainly some sites over do it, but mostly it's harmless. The Random Pub Finder has never had advertising because our running costs are pretty low and we prefer not to have ads. Getting several hundred visitors a day is enough to rock my boat. If we ever got so many visitors that we had to pay significant hosting costs, we'd almost certainly have to get some advertising.
But something seems wrong about making money out of phone numbers. For a start, if I use the 0871 number I never actually find out the pub's phone number, so I'm stuck if I need to call it again (unless I use the 0871 number again). Second, why make money out of something that should be freely available? (and yes, directory enquiries should be free as well)
Fortunately, most sites still provide the pub's real number. If you agree with me, I suggest you vote with your feet and start to frequent these sites instead.