Your friend is dumb or lying if they've been using Ask for that long and never heard of Jeeves. They dumped Jeeves about a year ago. Pretty much when they started the new ad campain (where they show the comparison between Ask results and Google results.)
I use Ask too, and like it. But you have to customize your results page to show more than the default number of search results. Otherwise, 50% of your results will be paid ads and it's hard to tell the difference between a paid result and a real result.