BEWARE of [FREE] Toll Free Numbers For Small Business!

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As indicated by Steve W from this YouTube video, there is a lot of misrepresentation around 800 numbers and toll free services. Many companies use marketing hooks to try and draw in more business from the ever increasing ad costs, but suffice to say there is no business phone service that truly offers free toll free numbers.

Now you might find some providers subsidizing signup costs of either the monthly service in exchange for “free” numbers, or the other way around whereby you pay for “securing your number,” but don’t have to pay any by-the-minute usage fees supposedly. Unlimited minute plans could also be argued as another option here… “all you have to pay is $5/mo and you get your number FREE!!! But wait, it’s $4.99/mo to add texting, $1.99/mo for voicemail transcription, and wait for it… an extra $9.99 to add the ability to receive faxes.”

Yawn.

Whichever way you slice it though, from all my research there is no such thing as a completely free toll free number that I would feel comfortable using for my business… Not one that I put blood, sweat, and tears into!

Sure you have services like Dialpad that leverage the technology of platforms like Google Voice, but even then it’s not really a full fledged solution that we can recommend to people, and is only available in limited areas thus far.

The rest is beyond the scope of my experience in the telecom industry, and will summarize his comment the best I can below:

The [FREE] Toll Free Number Marketing Scam

Anytime a small business hosts a toll free number in any capacity, there are always costs associated with inbound calls in some fashion. Whether or not you’re paying for them in a traditional fashion, get unlimited minutes because the company strictly throttles wifi calls within available bandwidth limits, or simply don’t have to pay for your first 300 – 500 minutes in your bucket, is another story.

But What About Those Cheap Number Forwarding Services That Claim To Offer Business Phone Lines For $1.99/mo

Even a cheap toll free number service like Etollfree is going to subsidize the cost in some way like I mentioned above. In this example of an 800 number I just searched for, I’d pay a $24.95 setup free, $.99 cents a month for the number, and then I would be billed $.02 cents every minute the line is in use. Depending on how much you’re going to use your business line, which for most people is more than you’d think, I think Phone.com and Grasshopper are better choices for me since you can add unlimited minute plans at any time.

How Cheap Number Forwarding Companies Run Up Your Bill On 800 Numbers & Toll Free Services

What most people don’t know about, is the scam that’s running around, whereby autodialers run up business owners phone bills by buying the customer list from some of the most popular voip providers.Most people think this is crazy, but I have personally leased hundred of virtual numbers over the last 6 years, and have a lot broader experience with blacklisting sales calls, seeing the correlation between buying a certain company’s service and telemarketer hounding increase, etc.. A classic example is this complaint here for Kall8. This isn’t to bash Kall8 specifically in any way, (I’m actually still a paying customer of Kall8 to this day, because I’m to lazy to port the numbers to another provider), just an example I saw recently. Could be fake, or could be very real, I’ll let you be the judge.

Apparently, Kall8 likes to makes bogus spoof calls to run up charges on their customer’s toll-free billing.

Online you can see numerous other Kall8 clients who use the service and receive these same calls.

What happens…

At either odd times or a client’s busiest time of the day, these “Bogus Calls” are made to Kall8 clients. No one answer on the other side when you pick up the phone. And they spoof the Caller I.D. on your Toll-free Detailed Billing. If one makes contact with the entity that appears on the Caller I.D. each time they have no connection with any of these calls.

Why would one come to a conclusion that your OWN toll-free company is doing this?

I have had several wrong number calls, telemarketing calls and calls from entities that use other number on their exposed caller i.d. THOUGH with Kall8 service it would still show a True Originating Number making it almost impossible for Spoof Calls to come in.

Though, realistically why, over the years WHO would be the benefit for any entity OTHER than your Toll-free company to call your toll-free number just to bill your toll-free time for a few seconds?

And most NOTABLY, this happens most frequently in the 3 months prior to Christmas!

If you contact Kall8, their response is “we can’t control who calls you”.

No other toll-free number I have ever had or one other I have with another company currently, NEVER receives bogus spoof calls. Nor does my 5 cell phones, 6 lands lines, or my land fax.

This is such a good scam, no one can catch them at it because it is all internal. And think about it..

For every 20,000 clients they make a contact call to each of their toll-free numbers and bill for just .06 cents each that is a free $1,200.00 a pop.

And before Christmas time I was receiving 7 of these calls a day, approx 20 days of each month!.. which could easily rack up $504,000.00 / Half Millions dollars just those few calls which most people would think nothing about.

Merry Christmas Kall8

Why Google Voice Can’t Ever Offer Toll Free Numbers For Small Business Usage

A toll free number means exactly how it sounds… all calls from the customer (the caller) are toll free, which is why infomercials like to use them, so TV watchers always know they won’t be charged some outrageous fees just for calling.

But these operation costs for communication must come from somewhere right? They always do one way or another, as we all know nothing in life is truly free usually.

Google Voice is strictly a free service, and in order for them to offer a “toll free” option for business use, they would have to deploy an option that would allow any costs associated with operation legally be responsible to one party or another.

For this reason alone, Google Voice will never offer toll free numbers, 1800 numbers, or any other 866, 877, toll free prefix.

What can do however, is add an 800 number that forwards to your Google Voice account, if in fact you’re so attached to your Google Voice App that you don’t want to switch to a better paid provider.

We talk about how to add an 800 number to any cell phone or smartphone here.

Using Google Voice For Certain Businesses Is Strictly Prohibited (even though millions get away with it)

I don’t know about you, but one of the reasons I stopped using Google Voice numbers for call tracking lines, is because I didn’t like the idea of putting a ton of time, effort, and money into building out a business idea using a phone number I didn’t truly own or couldn’t get support on.

Because Google Voice is supposed to be a consumer service, they have fail safes in place to prevent people from over using the service for things like, robo dialing, mass texting, etc…

From what I can tell, there are a number of reasons Google can suspend your Google Voice number, or even terminate it, and I don’t want to be in that camp after we’ve already invested heavily into building something generating revenue.

What’s The Story With Toll Free Vanity Numbers That Match Your Business Name Or Spell A Word Or Service

The FCC Mandates That Toll Free Numbers Cannot Be Hoarded Or Reserved, And Are Available On A First Come First Serve Basis

There are a ton of companies out there offering vanity numbers for huge fees. Some of these providers are legit, and others are simply price gouging the naive business owners that buy in to ridiculous monthly pricing… no better than the pesky landline companies we all hate that lock us in to crazy contracts with high setup fees.

If you check out this document by the FCC, no provider is legally allowed to claim more available numbers than they can reasonably distribute (i.e. – you can’t reserve 100k numbers when you only increase your customer base by 10k a year).

Whether or not some of these shady white-label faced companies abide by that is another story, which just one more reason why I use this list of trusted providers.

My List Of Trusted Toll Free Providers

1) Grasshopper

2) Phone Com

3) RingCentral


Resources:

This presentation is misinformed on several levels: There is no such thing as a free toll-free number. In all cases, the party that is using the toll-free number is paying for callers to call that number. “Toll free” means, exactly: free to the calling party because the calls are billed to the called party. Google Voice will never offer toll free numbers for this reason. Forwarding toll free numbers to a Google Voice number may or may not work, due to the call forwarding technology used by both services, and it is not supported by Google. Despite random people on the internet posting YouTube videos about using Google Voice for business, the service is specifically intended for individual consumer use only. There is no direct customer support for Google Voice, no guaranteed service level, and certain business usage patterns will trigger Google’s abuse prevention algorithms, resulting in the number being either temporarily suspended, or permanently shut down. In particular, using Google Voice for a call center or telemarketing is a violation of Google’s terms of use, and will result in service suspension. Google Voice is not part of its G-Suite offering, and G-Suite will not provide any support for Google Voice. There are plenty of low-cost VoIP telephone service providers that are a better choice for business use.
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