It’s easy to over look this simple question when you’re looking at all of the websites screaming about their great plans and features, but it’s one of the most important questions you better not forget to ask. In many cases it’s the most important question of all! And even if they say you do, what proof do they give you, really?
Most regular phone companies don’t intentionally cheat you, but regular phone companies aren’t the ones you find on the top of search engines. Unfortunately what I call, “fake phone companies” that don’t have any presence other than a nice website and don’t have a brand name, can get away with things regular phone companies couldn’t or wouldn’t.
That means they make the most money and tend to be the ones that can afford to pay the most per click and buy their way to the top search rankings with cheap marketing tricks. The important thing is that you really have to be careful especially with smaller inernet based services that don’t have anything to lose. Many of the nicest looking websites get away with a lot of crap and really do hold you hostage or worse.
Specific examples of web-based 800 services to avoid!
Thomas Skala, the owner of a web based 800 service (Easytel.net) even wrote on our website in comments on the post about small 800 services that they don’t hold numbers hostage. They just own all of the toll free numbers which they provide as part of their service. The only way I can figure that his comment isn’t completely contradictory is if he assumes that since he’s not demanding a price to release the numbers you’ve been advertising, he’s technically not holding their customer’s 800 numbers hostage.
I guess they feel holding a number hostage (demanding money to release it) is against the FCC regulations but apparently redefining your number as their number and not releasing them at all, is an OK way to keep you using their service as long as possible.
I’ve also seen another company that claims ownership of numbers you don’t bring in from another carrier (Onebox) have their own employees essentially steal someone’s 800 number sign the transfer forms to yank a number back against the customer’s will, after the customer transferred it away! And even more companies (like GotVmail and CustomTollFree) will hold any number you find “Available” with their lookup tool hostage to force you to use their more expensive service too.
Unfortunately there are no phone police and these type of 800 scams happen all the time. And without anyone on your side documenting and protecting your ownership of the 800 number you’re spending all that money advertising, you can wind up at the mercy of a less reputable company. Is it worth $49 to get independent proof of ownership? The question is really “How could anyone afford not to?!” Don’t leave children in charge of guarding your cookie jar, or put people with an incentive to hold onto your number in charge of protecting your ability to transfer it away, especially if it’s a small company you’ve never heard of other than on their own website.