What are the best free conference call services, and are they really free?

It’s that time of the year again we refresh companies on what “freeconference calls really are, and if we think they are worthy of use, or not. Spoiler alert: it depends on your circumstances.

Terminology

For the past decade, the main key term used for this type of conference call was “free”, but over the past year, this has become “shared conference call service” as we described here, basically, it’s a re-brand of the “free” terminology usage, which for us, we’re all for as it more of less says what it is, where as the “free” usage was a bit of a disingenuous thing to say – and costing companies thousands of pounds still to this day.

What “free” now known as “shared” actually means

Plot twist, in case you didn’t already work it out, free is in fact, not free. The conference call providers that offer these “free” services are in fact putting you on to expensive phone numbers to dial-in to, and then as a provider, they get a ‘kick back’ from the telephone services provider that allocated them the phone number. Thus, the “free” services is actually alluding to the fact you cant signup straight away to their services without a credit, debit of invoicing mechanism.

The issue

The surprise factor. There have been approximately 20k searches for 0844 4 73 73 73 over the past 12 months, and we believe this to be due to telephone bill shock.That’s right, you don’t need a credit or debit card to sign up to these “free” services, but many realise the cost of this once their phone bill arrives – it’s at that point people realise the real value [sarcasm] in these free services. Please note, the 0844 example we gave use to be shown as a “free” service, but now a “shared” number that the provider is much more transparent about, where others are not.

Of course, the other issue for a business, and the one that really gets the accounts teams triggered, is when members of staff, typically on the road sales staff, make use of these “free” quick to sign up to services, which, also has a knock on effect to those that they call, be it clients, potential customers or suppliers, as they will also get a hefty bill. Not great for business relations!

Best case usage

Ultimately, the best case for a free AKA shared conference call service is if your conference calls are ad-hoc, not many attendees and the call doesn’t last long. Or, of course, you love to pay for services that can ultimately cost 100* more than they would if you utilised a pay monthly plan.

Utilise our recommendations engine today and we’ll guide you to finding a great conference call provider.

References:

ASA rullings – ASA Adjudication on Via-Vox Ltd (1 & 2).