Bite Your Tongue!

Call Me

Sure, if you're picking up the tab.

You've probably seen the ads for consumer collect-call services like 1-800-COLLECT. Maybe you've even wondered if a similar service is available for business users. Simply put, the answer is no.

According to Aric March, president and CEO of MHA Communications Inc. in Highland Park, Illinois, entrepreneurs who want to let their customers call them for free have two options. One is to offer a toll-free number. The only problem with that is, often customers can't remember your number if they're away from their offices. But there's another, increasingly popular way to get customers to call you directly at your expense: Provide them with a pre-paid calling card with your company's name and logo on it.

If the customer dials you, you keep their business. But even if they dial another party, the phone company can pro-vide you with a record of who they called, giving you interesting information for market research that could lead to the creation of new products by your company. And is this legal, you ask? The customer has acknowledged their consent simply by using the card. Remember, nothing in life is free.

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This article was originally published in the December 1999 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Bite Your Tongue!.

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