I disagree; there are a fair number of top quality free directories, general ones, as well as niche and regional / local directories.
Indeed, many 'paid for' entries are no better in any way than 'free' ones; while some 'paid for' directories do reinvest some of the income in improvement, SEO and promoting the directory (and therefore the listed sites). And many 'paid for' directories are no different to any other cr*p directory, except that they levy a charge.
Whether you want your listing for referrals, or for SE benefit or both, you should keep an open mind; the fee has to be a factor, but the investment of time is usually a bigger issue. Just being "paid for" can NEVER tell you anything about quality. Look at each on their merits.
And do not ignore the isue of acceptability. With a free directory, even ODP, you can - and should - make your submission and walk away. If you've read what qualifies, and your submission followed guidelines, you'll likely be accepted. If not, no point wasting more time looking back.
But if you've paid, you have to look back - even if it means finding that you've lost your cash!
[edited by: Quadrille at 10:50 pm (utc) on Feb. 9, 2007]