The Evolution of the 800 Numbers

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During the initial stages, 800 numbers or toll free numbers were considered as luxury contact numbers that only multi-million dollar businesses and multinational companies could afford. For small and midsize businesses 800 numbers were a dream facility as the owners had to pay for all the incoming as well as outgoing call charges in addition to the exorbitant set up fees.

Some major corporations were enamored of 800 numbers despite the huge expenses because of the many advantages it provided. They felt the benefits that the 800 numbers offer more than justifies the amount of money you would be spending on it. The chief benefit was 800 numbers is they motivate both existing as well as prospective customers to call your business more often as they will not be required to pay any charges. This will mean improved customer relationships and help you enlarge the customer base.

With the passage of time, the costs of setting up and running an 800 number became more and more affordable. The prime reason for such a drop in expenses can be attributed to the spurt in the number of toll free phone service providers. In keeping with the basic principles of Economics - as competition stiffened the services became cheaper and began to attract more buyers.

This is not to disregard the fact that the quality of 800 numbers also improved and lot more features got added. Today, you can get 800 numbers with no set up charges, affordable monthly expenses, many attractive features and even a free 30-day free trial period.

Historically speaking, AT&T launched a product called "interstate INWARD WATS." in1967 and at that time, AT&T never visualized that this modest launch of a seemingly non-sensational product will be capable of growing into such enormous proportions and create a universal demand amongst the business community. In fact the new "WATS" was developed as a solution to meet the prevailing shortage of telephone company operators. AT&T believed that this new service, also known as "Automated Collect Calling", would fulfill a crying need.

800 numbers or Freephone services appeared in the United Kingdom in the 1960s, with the Post Office running such a facility. It was introduced in the United States during mid- 1967 by AT&T as an alternative to collect calling and to reduce the need for telephone operators. None at AT&T or outside ever dreamt that 25 years after its initial launch, 40% of the calls on AT&T's long distance network would be toll free calls.

The evolution, development and growth of 800 numbers to its present giant forms can be chronicled as below:

1967: AT&T introduces "Inbound WATS" Into the market

1984: Toll Free Services "Unbundled" by MFJ*

1994: Toll Free Number Portability became a reality

1996: "888" as additional toll free service introduced

1997: International Toll Free came into existence

1998: "877" as additional toll free service introduced

2000: "866" as additional toll free service introduced

The early days of the modest beginning of 800 numbers are now forgotten and it has today become commonplace for businesses regardless of their sizes to advertise a toll-free number. So what started off as a compelling necessity four and half decades ago is now an indispensable marketing tool for all business houses.

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