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Should My Business Get a Toll Free Number?

toll-free-number-100712-02 Credit: Dreamstime

In real estate, they say it’s all about location. The same is true when trying to determine whether you need a toll free number.

If your customer base is relatively local, then the cost of a toll free number (those starting with the prefixes 800, 866, 877 and 888) may not be justified. On the other hand, if you’ve got a national customer base or have an e-commerce website, you may want to consider .

“If you’re getting a lot of orders over the phone or on a web site then a toll free number is probably necessary,” said Luanne Mayorga, Manager of the Illinois International Trade Center at the College of DuPage in Lisle, Ill., who adds that offering “Live Chat” on your web site will cut down on the number of calls to your toll free line.

Marketing tool

Your toll free number can also be a marketing tool for your company as it is in the case of 1-800-GOT JUNK, 1-800-FLOWERS or other companies that use clever number combinations to create phone numbers their customers won’t easily forget.

These “vanity” numbers are available at the same price as a regular toll free number. You can search to see if the one you want is available on your local or long distance phone carrier’s web site.

What toll free numbers cost

The cost of a toll free number varies depending on your calling plan. A good estimate is to expect to pay between $10 and $15 a month for a toll free number. Calls to the number will cost you between $.06 and $.30 cents a minute depending on your plan.

If you aren’t sure that you want to pay the extra cost of a toll free number, you’ll take comfort in knowing that there are plenty of business experts who think toll free numbers are increasingly unnecessary.

“We don’t think toll free numbers are as important as they used to be because the Internet and cell phones have driven down the cost of making a long distance call,” said Fred Manuel, General Partner at Alliance Cost Containment in Ann Arbor, Mich. It’s important to note that even if you have a toll free number, cell phone users will still have to pay their regular rate to call it.

The one kind of company that should always have a toll free number, however, are companies who offer services to via phone that can take a long time, Manuel told BusinessNewsDaily.

If you’re trying to talk a customer through a problem that is going to take a half an hour, you want to give them a way to make that call for free, he said.


Jeanette Mulvey

Jeanette has been writing about business for more than 20 years. She has written about every kind of entrepreneur from hardware store owners to fashion designers. Previously she was a manager of internal communications for Home Depot. Her journalism career began in local newspapers. She has a degree in American Studies from Rutgers University. Follow her on Twitter @jeanettebnd.