As the demand for toll-free numbers has grown, the combinations available with the 800 prefix have dwindled. To keep pace, several new prefixes were added to the mix. Now, numbers with 888, 877, 866, 855 are also toll-free. Even with these, many of the desirable 7-digit combinations for vanity numbers using these prefixes are taken.
Vanity combinations are so popular, there are companies that keep tabs on the numbers and snatch them if they become available. Conceptually, this is similar behavior to those that wait for certain website domains to open up or those that squat on a desirable URL and then resell for exorbitant fees.
Toll-free brokers buy and sell numbers. You can purchase available vanity numbers from the broker but then must find a service provider to host the number within a certain period of time. The number is then ported to the new service.
Abused Vanity Numbers
From a business perspective, if you decide to extend branding through a vanity line for your organization, it is important to make plans to keep the number reserved and/or activated. One of the downsides of vanity toll-free numbers (as well as web domains) is that numerous popular combinations are not owned by the businesses that you expect to hold them.
Many vanity toll-free numbers have been snatched up by unrelated companies capitalizing on another brand’s popularity. These “rogue” numbers can be very harmful to your company’s reputation. Beware! Have a plan in place to avoid this type of problem before you purchase a vanity number.
With the limited 800 toll-free number availability, your organization may decide to use one of the other prefixes to extend your company’s branding through a vanity number. Use caution. Customers can become confused and dial 800 instead of 855 or 888. They may remember the vanity portion, but not the prefix, thus reaching another business unintentionally.
Make sure to investigate the other prefixes with your vanity combination to find out who the customer will reach if the number is misdialed. Consider and plan for the consequences of a misdialed number. Weigh the drawbacks and benefits associated with each vanity toll-free option. Remember, the end result may be more detrimental to your business’ reputation than just a lost opportunity!