There are a number of people in the vanity number business. At first glance our service may seem similar in some ways. The best way to explain the differences is to use an internet analogy. GoDaddy is to domain name squatters what TollFreeNumbers.com is to pretty much everyone else in the “vanity number” business.
Domain name squatters look for good names becoming avaiable and try to grab them, hoping someone will come along and offer them a lot of money for them. They are trying to sell (or rent) them for as much as they can get for them. I guess that’s natural in some ways. We are the exception though because we don’t go and get numbers we think people will like and we don’t charge based on what they may be worth to the buyer. We charge a flat fee that’s not based on the size of the customer, the amount of advertising they do or the value of the number.
To my knowledge we are the only ones that do this. We charge a flat fee (a tiny fraction of the price of anyone else in the vanity number business) that’s based on the time and effort required to provide the service. We also probably get more toll free numbers for customers in a month than anyone else in the vanity number business does all year. Granted they make a LOT more per number, so they only need to get a couple customers per month. (We are aiming for 1000/month)
GoDaddy does charge a fee, but that doesn’t make them a domain name squatter because they’re getting them out of the spare pool which is exactly what we do. Squatters hold them and hope to sell them for big bucks eventually. The worst ones are the ones that take a number you inquire about out of the spare pool and then want to rent the same number we would have given you for a one time fee of $49 for hundreds of dollars PER MONTH forever. That’s why I recommend that you be very careful telling other people or websites what you’re looking for.
A real life example is 1-800 US-MORTGAGE. A customer had backordered this number and we were trying to get it. Unfortunately someone else in the vanity number business got it from a backroom deal with the phone company before it came out of the four month aging process. He’ll sit on it and hope that someone contacts hm about it, and then he’ll probably charge $20,000 to $40,000 or so. That’s just my guess but it’s seeing and hearing some other deals he’s done. If you really want that number, look him up. He’s not a bad guy, but that’s a far cry from the $795 one time fee we would have charged our customer if we had been able to get any ’800′ number from backorder. Most of our numbers are $49, but you obviously wouldn’t get a number that good out of the spare pool.
Anyway, there isn’t much awareness of this industry, let alone oversight, so many small guys can get away with a lot and many of them hide their identity and have no problem doing almost anything. Feel free to look around on the web, but keep your cards a little close to your vest until you really know who you’re talking too. Oh, and we’re also not trying to sell any ongoing service like regular phone companies which in the internet analogy are more like web hosting companies too, but that’s another topic / post. I just answered an email asking something related to this and thought that was worth rewriting and sharing here.