Is toll free going away soon? Of course not, but I believe it will die a slow death. Businesses are paying less than 2 cents a minute for long distance. For the home office people, most telecommunication companies are offering not to exceed plans – typically less than $20 per month. Cell phone companies, thanks to Verizon, are now offering unlimited calling plans for $99/month. With long distance costs approaching zero (at least that’s the perception), does it make sense for companies to pay for an 800 number. Customer support is one case where companies should continue to offer customers an 800 number. If a customer is already upset, don’t push them over the edge by charging them to call you about a problem their having with your company.
Toll free conference calling will really take a hit. Conferencing services charge anywhere from 6 – 12 cents a minute per participant. If you have 10 people participating on a conference call, that’s $1 per minute. It adds up if your company conducts a lot of conference calls during the course of a month. Some companies are paying thousands of dollars a month for toll free conference calling.
Conference calls will still be an important part of doing business, but either toll free costs will drop dramatically (we’ll all realize the phone companies have been over charging for years) or businesses will use a toll conferencing service. With businesses watching the bottom line closer than ever, I predict toll free conferencing will fall dramatically in the coming years.