If Business Lesson Number One is to make the sale as easy as possible for your customers, a toll-free number helps you do just that. Customers can ring you up whether they're calling from a pay phone or from out of state without having to dig around for change or worry about their long-distance bills.
If you want to get an 800 number today, though, expect slim pickings--you're down to about 2,000 numbers to choose from. To help the situation, the dwindling supply of toll-free numbers was restocked in 1996 with the introduction of the 888 prefix.
But two years later, the initial 8 million available numbers has dropped to, at last count, less than 2 million. To keep up with demand, the always mindful Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has slated an 877 toll-free prefix for release sometime this spring.
Mie-Yun Lee is editor of the bimonthly Business Consumer Guide and BuyersZone (http://www.buyerszone.com), an Internet buying service. She is also co-author of The Essential Business Buyer's Guide (Sourcebooks Inc.).