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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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