There are wide ranges of choices that must be considered when buying an 800 number, which makes for a complicated decision process.
However, what everyone always asks, up front, is how much does it cost. And it is a great question. There are direct out of pocket expense that must be considered such as the following
1) A monthly reoccurring fee between $0 and $25 a month just to rent the actual number.
2) Minimum Usage Fee and Usage Fees A ” The minimum usage fee will range between $0.00 and $50.00 per month. How it works is that the 800 number usages are below a predetermined usage threshold, you are responsible for paying the actual usage and the minimum usage fee. B ” Usage Fee is the actual usage for the amount of minutes used. The cost associated to this fee can range from .02 cents and .16 cents per minute. The their can be different pricing structures for instate callers, which typically had higher rates than out of state callers.
And example of how these fees would work together lets assume your minimum usage fee is $50.00. If the customers calling your business consumed $45 of usage time, you would be responsible for paying the minimum usage fee of $50 and the actual usage of $45 your total bill would be $95. However, if your customers called you and you used $55 dollars of usage minutes, then you would have exceeded your minimum usage fee of $50 and your bill would be $55.
The next major determining factor is service. If you have ever had an issue with a cell phone, long distance charge pick your poison a billing issue, and they are always to the benefit of the service provider, can turn a dossal soccer mom into a rabid, out of control, terrorist. (I am speaking in terms of humorous hyperbole of course!)
A few great place to check out if a company provides bad service, horrible customer experience, etc. Is Google (www.google.com) or Yahoo (www.yahoo.com) . Just type in the name of the company followed by the word sucks and you can quickly read up on ever bad experience a customer has had with that company. Another great on-line resource is the rip-off report (www.ripoffreport.com). Although the rip-off report is filled with more toxic entries e.g. people focused on vengeance more so than information, it to is a great place to start. Some close seconds, which are also more traditional, would be the Federal Trade Commission, www.FTC.org or your states department of consumer affairs.
The best way to gauge companies customer service is to call them and just talk to people in their service center. You have to come up with your own criteria, however two that my Mom uses is: 1) Can I talk to a live person in under one minute?, and 2) Do they speak English? Ask them how do they like working there? Ask them if you had another job offer with the same salary and benefits but a different work environment would you change jobs? You will be surprise at the responses you get.
Ultimately, the only way you are going to know if you the company have good service is when you have a problem, and you will, does the company work to fix the problem and satisfy your needs.