What is an 800 number? How can owning a toll free number help my business? If you own a web business, you have probably asked yourself these questions before. Maybe you have already done a Google search about toll free numbers.
If you already searched the web for information, you probably realized that the benefits of owning a toll free number are pretty obvious. For those who are unfamiliar, we will explain.
For one, callers can reach a toll free number without being charged for the call. Rather, the toll free subscriber, or the owner of the toll free number, pays for the call. This presents a major benefit because customers are 40% more likely to call a business if the phone call is free.
Owning a toll free number also just makes your business appear more professional. Imagine a business that advertises a professional and corporate 800 number, and then compare it to a business that uses the owner’s cell phone. The company with the toll free number is probably more likely to get your business. Simply put, owning a toll free number is one of the most cost-effective ways to promote your brand.
What is the difference between the 3-digit codes?
A toll free number will begin with one of the following three-digit codes: 800, 888, 877, 866, 855 or 844. The six formats are essentially the same, aside from a slightly different appearance. They all cost the same.
One simple explanation compares the different toll free codes to website domains. The company says that 800 is essentially .com, 888 is .net, and 866 and 877 are like .info and .biz. Each number is still a toll free phone number – it’s simply a matter of preference when deciding which three-digit code to buy.
Why is there more than one code?
Businesses have been using 800 numbers for almost 50 years. The 1-800 numbers first originated in 1967 and were used primarily by hotels and rental car agencies.
Hotels and rental car agencies both take reservations from across the country. They also used to do a lot of business over the phone, before the internet was invented. It was important that customers could reach these businesses for free.
However, the market for 800 numbers became saturated as more and more businesses starting using toll free numbers. There was eventually a need for more prefixes.
To satisfy the demand, 888 numbers were created in 1996. 877 numbers were created in 1998 and 866 numbers in 1999. In 2010, 855 numbers debuted and most recently, the 844 number was created.
Which prefix should I choose?
The prefix that you choose depends somewhat on your advertising strategy. 800 numbers are more popular on common advertising media like TV, placards and radio. Business analysts consider traditional 800 numbers to be a sound decision. However, if the 800 number that you would like is taken, the decision to buy 888, 866, 855, etc. will not make a big difference.
Resp-Orgs and the FCC
Toll free numbers are assigned on a first-come, first-served basis by entities known as “Responsible Organizations,” according to the FCC. The FCC regulates the way toll free numbers can be used or obtained. The biggest advantage for consumers is portability – this means that a toll free user can “port” his number to a new provider when he changes providers.
Portability becomes especially useful when you have owned an 800 number for a long time. It eliminates the need to advertise a new number to clients. In addition, you might have a vanity phone number that is perfect for your business. You will be able to keep your toll free number – whether it is 800, 888, 866, 833 etc.
Toll Free Warehousing
The FCC’s rules prohibit toll free service providers from warehousing, or hoarding, toll free numbers. This means that a provider cannot legally reserve a number without having a subscriber in place. The FCC regulates this activity to ensure that a fair supply of toll free numbers is available.