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Don't look now, but there's a new toll-free number coming to town. Because there aren't enough 800 numbers to go around, in March, phone companies will begin offering numbers with the new 888 toll-free prefix. For some businesses, this presents the perfect opportunity to get a number spelling out some nifty phrase they've always wanted. For others, it means worrying that customers may now have a harder time reaching them.
"The 888 numbers are ideal for people who want to get a new number and have a wider range of numbers to choose from," says Karen Way of AT&T. "However, some businesses are concerned that a different company could get their 800 number in the 888 domain, and that could lead to some confusion." (At press time, the Federal Communications Commission was looking into the matter.)
If your business already uses an 800 number, keep in mind this change won't replace it, nor will it make 888 and 800 numbers interchangeable. As for businesses that sign up for 888 numbers? Don't be concerned that you'll be any harder to reach: Consumers will still be able to obtain listings for toll-free phone numbers-including 888 numbers-through toll-free directory assistance by calling (800) 555-1212.
Can you walk and chew gum at the same time? For most entrepreneurs, doing several things at once is essential-and many of them rely on QuickBooks software for help.
QuickBooks Pro 4.0, Intuit's newest small-business accounting software release, contains features that help with everything from accounting and sales to business management and taxes. In addition to basic checkbook management, QuickBooks Pro 4.0 has payroll, job costing, invoicing and inventory management features. It also has new contact management capabilities to track customer information and job estimate functions, as well as the ability to import leading business tax software programs.
New 4.0 features also include custom documentation for more than 20 industries and business management articles written by well-known experts on small and homebased business.
QuickBooks Pro 4.0 costs $189 and is now available for Windows and Macintosh platforms.
Some of the best things in life are free-but one of them has finally gone the way of the dinosaur. For years, companies have been able to register their own Internet "domain name" (the part of an e-mail address that follows the @ symbol) free of charge. For example, if you own a business called XYZ and want that name in your e-mail address, you could register as "email@example.com." But recently, Network Solutions Inc., the company that registers domain names for the Internet, began imposing a $50 annual fee on commercial registrations.
The fee is a result of rising costs for handling the skyrocketing number of registrations that, until now, were subsidized by the National Science Foundation. It applies only to domain holders-not end-users who access the Internet through commercial online services such as CompuServe and America Online.
New commercial registrations will be charged $100 to register a name for two years; thereafter, a $50 annual fee will be imposed. Existing registrants owe a fee on the anniversary date of the original registration and will be notified electronically when their renewal is due.
AT&T, (800) 888-3850;
Intuit, 155 Linfield, Menlo Park, CA 94027, (800)624-8742,(415)322-0573;
Network Solutions Inc., 505 Huntmar Park Dr., Herndon, VA 22070;
O'reilly And Associates, 103-A Morris St., Sebastopol, CA 95472, (800) 998-9938.