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0800 Numbers – 10 things to look out for before buying

0800 numbers offer massive advantages to businesses but buying them can be a minefield if you are not prepared. This article examines 10 things to look out for before buying an 0800 number.

0800 numbers allow your customers to call you without being charged. This not only increases the amount of calls your business receives, it also gives you the chance to measure which of your services are most popular.

0800 number owners are charged for each call they receive. When a person dials in 0800 number owners can “point” their numbers to any landline (or mobile) that they designate.

The phone line that you use to receive the call does not necessarily have to be dedicated to 0800; it can be a standard phone that you use to make and receive normal calls.

Follow this advice before buying an 0800 number:

1. Make sure 0800 is right for you – 0800 numbers are good at linking businesses to their customers. If the majority of your work is business to business, a 0800 may not be necessary. The majority of companies contacting you will not mind paying for the cost of a phone call.

2. Work with a reputable 0800 number company - Look for an organization that has been working with 0800 numbers for a long time and can provide you with support. There may be glitches that can arise the first time you use an 0800 number so make sure you sign up to a company that can look after your best interests.

3. Get the company contact address if buying an 0800 number online - Some telecoms resellers do their best to cover up their identity on their websites. Make sure you can see a physical address and that you have a contact phone number. Better still choose a company who actually provide a real person’s contact name. Most 0800 number resellers should be able to connect your number within 24 hours.

4. Beware of 'free' numbers – If you're not being charged a set-up and rental fee for a 0800 number then the cost of the phone calls you receive will be more expensive. Nobody gives anything away so read the small print. The majority of reputable companies will charge a modest set up fee, a monthly rental of around £2 + VAT per number and call charges of around 4p per minute.

5. Get itemised bills with phone calls charged by the second – Make sure your 0800 provider doesn't round your calls up to the nearest minute. This can be an unnecessary and expensive cost. Similarly, make sure you receive frequent itemised billing for all the calls you have received. Some companies will let you access this online.

6. Be prepared to pay more for 0800 to a mobile – pointing an 0800 number at your mobile is a larger risk for telecom providers and consequently costs you more money. This is something to take into account if you expect a lot of calls.

7. Cater for your international calls – a UK 0800 number may not be free for international enquiries n some cases. If you rely on foreign customer sales set up a country specific number or international toll free number to extend your business.

8. Don't pay a fortune for a so-called memorable number - Many companies offer "Golden" numbers for extortionate rates that aren't memorable at all. Truly memorable numbers are very hard to come by. Unless your number is for a radio or TV campaign then it's not very important for it to be memorable.

9. Don't buy into 'free minutes' - No company can afford to give away free minutes. Some companies offer to sell bundles of minutes to you for a fixed price in much the same way as you would buy a text bundle for a mobile phone. The odds are you won't use exactly the amount of minutes you paid for. If there is a shortfall the 0800 company makes a profit. If you go over your minutes you pay for it anyway. Bottom line: Free minutes aren’t free – it has to be made up elsewhere in set up fees and monthly rentals. Does your business give products way for free?

10. Make sure your 0800 number is moveable - A lot of people use a landline for business and divert it to their mobile when they are out of the office. You can set up an 0800 number and point it at your landline. The 0800 will then follow any divert you set up on that landline. Should you decide to do this, check what the transfer costs will be from your landline to mobile - the charges can be hefty.
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0845 in - 0800 out??

The popularity of 0845 numbers is outstripping Free Phone 0800 numbers. Recent search engine statistics for February 2008 show that online purchases of 0845 numbers outweighed 0800 numbers by a factor of 3 to 1.

In recent years 0800 has been seen to be the way to go. Business people have known that they can attract potential customers with the lure of a free phone call so why this change in trend from 0800 to 0845?

A major advantage of 0845 numbers is that they offer one fixed annual cost to business owners. This is because business owners do not pay to receive calls on their 0845 numbers. Typically you will pay a modest set up fee to purchase an 0800 number plus an annual fee and that’s it – no nasty surprises.

This isn’t the case with 0800 numbers as businesses pay typically anywhere between 3p and 6p per minute to receive calls made on their 0800 numbers as well as a set up fee and monthly rental. If call traffic is high on an 0800 number then the monthly bills for call charges can rapidly rise to an unacceptable level.

0800 numbers can be open to fraudulent use by employees and their families as well as salespeople. If your employee’s wife finds out that she can ring her husband at work for free by using the company’s 0800 number there is not a great deal anyone can do about it. There is no great incentive for your employees and their families to use an 0845 number to ring up work as they realise that they have to pay for the call just as if they had dialled the landline number.

A common tactic for telesales people is to go through a Yellow Pages, BT Phone Book or Thomson directory and just dial business that display 0800 numbers in their adverts. Obviously this practice greatly reduces telesales costs but can be incredibly frustrating for businesses who continually receive telephone solicitations on their 0800 number. 0845 numbers come into their own again as telesales people would simply not make the effort to just ring 0845 numbers as they understand there is a cost element to the call.

In many ways the increased popularity of 0845 numbers is a self fulfilling prophecy. The more 0845 numbers that are purchased the more they appear in adverts – the more they appear in adverts the more the public accepts and understands them. Try conducting a straw poll at your office by asking your colleagues what it costs to call 0800 numbers and 0845 numbers. Most people understand that 0845 calls cost the same as a local call so they do not represent a barrier.

Both 0800 and 0845 numbers give businesses the opportunity of a great monitoring and tracking service. The concept is simple – just put a unique number in each advert that you have and make sure that it doesn’t appear anywhere else. Look at the itemised bill you receive from your telecoms provider every month and it should list the numbers of calls your advert receives. At a glance you will be able to see how well your adverts are performing.

So, if you are considering purchasing an 0800 or 0845 number you have some decisions to make as to which one you go for. 0845 is making massive strides on 0800 number yet 0800 is a double edged sword offering free calls to your customers but being open to potential abuse.
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Have your Gatineau and eat it too!

Google have offered a free web analytics package for several years now to its customers in the UK. Our American cousins have also been able to take advantage of Microsoft’s analytics package called “Gatineau”.

Microsoft announced today that it has open up Gatineau Analytics to international users as well including the UK.“Due to the overwhelming demand from customers outside the United States, we have decided to open up the web analytics beta and invite customers from international adCenter markets," expressed the official statement.

The new package promises many exciting features but will cost $5 to set up.
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eBay entrepreneurs

Nearly 180,000 people are now buying and selling for a living on eBay, the auction website.

The home-based entrepreneurs are generating an estimated £2bn - exceeding W.H. Smith eBay said yesterday.

Over the past two years people using eBay as their first or secondary source of income has more than doubled from 68,000. The site has 15m hits a month.

There is a North/South divide of eBay activity with the biggest concentration of new eBay business operating outside London. Our capital does not appear in the top 10 business centres, but Birmingham scrapes in at 10th place.

The East Midlands has been labelled the eBay ‘capital’ with the highest number of new start-ups in the Derby, Nottingham and Leicester area.
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