Who owns your toll free number?

If you don't own your toll free number, you are their prisonerIt’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.

Conclusion

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.

Related posts:

PhonePeople holds customers hostage at TollFreeNumbers.com
Why is ownership of your toll free number so Important?
j2 doesn’t want me to tell people what they’re doing
Big Companies behaving badly

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    9 Comments »

    Frank Anselmo says:
    January 9, 2009 at 1:15 am

    I just registered a toll free number. Now I want to find the right
    carrier so I don’t lose service after this 30 day free service.
    I was told opex is a good company for me since it’s just $2 a month
    and all I need to do is forward to my landline. That’s it.

    Is there a company that’s less money if that’s possible? If not, how
    do I sign up to this service? Could not find them online.

    My final question is how long do I personally own this toll free
    number now that I paid the $50?
    Is this something I have to re-register at some point? Thanks

    frank

      Bill Quimby (666 comments.) says:
      January 9, 2009 at 1:15 am

      Frank,

      You own the right to use the number as long as you pay your bill and don’t tell them to cancel it. If you don’t pay your bill (which is essentially telling them to cancel it) they will eventually take it away from you just like they will take away your house even if you own it outright, if you don’t pay the taxes.

      Regarding your question about whether there’s anything cheaper, feel free to look around. You can transfer it anywhere you want to go. I get the feeling that you would ask if there was anything cheaper no matter how cheap it is, so the best solution is to look around yourself. I hope that helps. Let me know if you have any other questions or need help with anything else.

      Bill

        Jeff (1 comments.) says:
        July 26, 2010 at 1:17 pm

        I have a toll free number with Verizon. can I take that from them, or do they own the number. I called and they said that it needs to be applied to a landline at all times, and I want to send it to the servoce “Phonebooth”, so that I can have virtual office phone. I plan on moving my company to another location in the next couple of years, but the current building I am in will be undergoing renovations for the next year, which means I will need to move a couple of times in the next two years. To avoid all the phone line setups, I thought this was best. I just want to get rid of Verizon and yet keep my toll free number. Is it possible?

          Bill Quimby says:
          July 26, 2010 at 5:52 pm

          Hi Jeff,

          I had heard of phone booth before but I’m not sure they handle toll free numbers. They may or may in the future through their carrier Bandwidth. But you can certainly use another carrier to get the calls there if you need to. I wouldn’t use the local company because local companies often make up those type of rules you’re running into. It’s not that they can’t send the calls directly to your phone booth number, but they’re in the business of selling local phone lines so they make up rules that say you have to point it to a local phone line and then forward that line to the other service. They make it sound like that’s the only way to do it probably because it’s the only way they can do it, but it’s certainly not the only way to do it.

          You can use the Opex service in the packet we send out. If it’s a Tier C number, which I’m guessing it is, you would pay about 4 to 5 cents per minute instead of the 3 cents per minute for a regular land line, but you can still send it there. You run into this with cell phones often too. But that’s certainly much less than Verizon would charge even if you don’t add into it the cost of the additional phone line they’re requiring you to have. I hope that helps. Let me know if you have any questions or need help with anything else.

          Bill Quimby

            Houston says:
            March 6, 2012 at 6:24 pm

            Is it possible for two companies in different states to have the same toll free number separately? In other words, can one person in california have a 1800 vanity number that rings to his business and another company in washington have the same vanity number ring to their business?

              Larry Fritz (1 comments.) says:
              March 30, 2012 at 2:47 pm

              Bill what a joy it was to speak to your customer service lady. She was more than helpful and pleasant. I purchased my own new number with you.

              I spent hours on line trying to figure this out. That God I asked the right questions about ownership and transferring.

              I am sending you an email and hope I can help you with your printers Ink and Toner. No Sales Tax Check me out at http://www.inkmart.com/NuFunds use the special coupon steelers for additional discounts

                Jon (1 comments.) says:
                August 8, 2013 at 7:03 pm

                I have 10 toll free numbers. I use maybe one, but want to retain them all. Sprint business long distance has continuously raised my rate. Originally it was 5.00 for up to 10 numbers and then usage. Then it went to 10.00, now it is a 15.00 non usage charge and no fee… I just want to pay 5 or 10 dollars for my numbers to be parked and pay what I use… Any ideas?

                  Christie Jansen (1 comments.) says:
                  August 9, 2013 at 9:20 pm

                  I really love to find ways to identify the numbers who call me. These days, it has become out of hand but I’m sure there is a bunch of services willing to provide ways to help me know who owns a number.

                    Brian Sleistee(new comment) says:
                    October 22, 2013 at 10:47 am

                    I have my website threw web.com and I’m going to purchase my domain from them but they said that they use a third party fir my 888#, My question is, is there any way to find out who owns my number and how can I purchase it? I made the mistake of advertising with a number that I don’t own and they are constantly messing up my account. Thank you

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