This is a lot more common than most people would realize. It can happen in a variety of ways, and unfortunately most people don’t know where to go or who to turn to when they suddenly realize they’re getting screwed and are really stuck.
It happens when you start advertising a toll free number that you got from a company you never heard of through the internet without reading the fine print. Somewhere buried in their fine print they say that the toll free number they are providing you is a part of their service.
That doesn’t sound bad but when you eventually want to transfer to another provider they say that you can cancel their service but you can’t take their number with you if you want to leave. If you don’t have any independent proof of ownership, they’ve GOTCHA!!
Occasionally we also see companies that got a toll free number from their hosting company or some other service. It sounds like a nice perk, but there’s no free lunch and when you advertise it and put it in print, all of a sudden you’re committing to that number and it may wind up stuck with the service that gave you the toll free number.
Sometimes even really big phone companies do it inadvertently, but just not processing transfer requests properly when you change phone companies. Then you stop paying the old phone company and the toll free number that didn’t get transferred is now disconnected and the bureacracy to get it going again just seems impossible. It’s usually made worse by phone company representatives that don’t understand what you’re trying to do and don’t seem to care. They may not be holding you hostage per say, but you still don’t have your number and if you don’t do anything long enough it’ll get sucked up by Primetel, the black hole.
The only thing worse than being a hostage is being a Hostage Voluntarily!
Some people actually agree to be held hostage on purpose. If you think having a specific number is the key to success, and someone is only willing to “rent” it to you, you are being voluntarily held hostage. This is called shared use. And again the more you advertise someone else’s number the more at their mercy you become. And they may seem nice, but being held hostage in a comfortable chair is still being held hostage.
Toll free numbers are by law, portable. The problem is that the same organization in charge of allowing you to leave has an incentive to keep you there as long as possible. This is like putting the hungry kids in charge of guarding the cookie jar.
We want to help!
If you’re being held hostage give us a call. In some situations we can help. And at a minimum we can get you a number that nobody will ever be able to hold you hostage with. And sometimes it just takes a little communication to resolve situations. Companies do have the right to refuse to release numbers if you owe money. We hate to see anyone get into this situation and really want to help.