SCORE Small Business Blog

Telecommunications: Do You Need an 800 number or a Separate Fax Line?

What value does a toll-free number bring to your business?

Does a toll-free number add value?

If you’re running a small business or nonprofit and are trying to cut costs, let the toll-free number go (or get a new number and limit its use…keep it off the Web!). And unless you have to send or receive tons of faxes, get rid of the dedicated line for that too.

Money spent on every incoming call on your toll-free line (or on funds for a dedicated fax line) could be redirected to activities that add better value to your organization. Are you still hanging on to these thinking you’ll get more business by making it more convenient to call you? Do you think this is helping you appear bigger than you are? 

Here is why you should consider using that money for something else (such as a top-notch Web presence).

Phone companies offer unlimited long distance. For $20 a month, I get unlimited long distance from AT&T. I don’t think twice about making a call and staying on the line until I’ve finished my business. I believe the people who need to call me probably have this same convenience.

Cell phones make it economical (free) to call long distance. I don’t give out my cell phone number and always have minutes to roll over to the next month. If I need to make a call away from my office, it’s no problem, no cost. Consequently, if I can call you for no cost, I don’t mind calling a regular number.

Google could work better than a vanity number. Getting a phone number that spells your company name, etc., is a cute way for people to hopefully remember you. But the perfect vanity number is hard to come by. And do people remember them? I don’t. I just Google anything I’m trying to find. 

Here is why I got rid of my dedicated fax line years ago.

Combo copier/fax/printer/scanner with a splitter handles outgoing faxes. Before my printer broke, on the rare occasion that I had to fax something, my all-in-one machine worked great. Because DSL uses a different signal from the analog phone, I didn’t have to unplug or switch any lines. (I’ve been without a printer in my office for almost a year. In a later post, I’ll share with you how I run my business without one. When it broke, I realized that I hardly printed anything anyway. So I thought I’d try doing without one and it’s working.)

Free version of eFax handles incoming faxes. Since I rarely receive a fax, I use a free service from I don’t publicize the fax number, and only give it out as needed. As long as I don’t receive more than 20 pages a month, the service is free (

Regular postal mail will get it there. If they can’t email it, and it’s too many pages to fax, I remind people that it’s OK to use regular mail. We often forget about the option of mailing something. It still works. 

So if you still have an 800 number or dedicated fax line, I’d like to hear why? Is it because you’ve always had one and never thought about it? Are your reasons for having it more important than improving your business infrastructure by developing more streamlined processes, enrolling in training and learning how to finish everything six times faster, hiring an expert to work with you so you can delegate, or developing a stronger Web presence so business comes to you? Let me know.

- Peggy Duncan

I’m a productivity and technology speaker, trainer, author, and consultant. I own The Digital Breakthroughs Institute in Atlanta GA.
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Discussion (9) Comment

  1. modern day telephone systems are quite reliable and offers more services*`*

  2. The telephone system we are using today still uses the legacy Tip and Ring -48 Volts line which is susceptible to noise.

  3. It is very cost effective if you unify all your communication devices in your office or home. Get your mobile communicaiton devices, your internet connected PC and your fax machine interconnected.Telephone system is also a great reinforcement to withstand the competetive world of business.

  4. JasonVisitor

    I found a list of several inexpensive 800 number services at Thought you’d like to know.

  5. tommyVisitor

    We contemplated switching our phone lines to our cell phones for our small business and getting an internet fax service for the fax line. As it turned out we had to keep one line at the house for the security system to dial out. As it turned out the fee for the stripped down one line phone service was not any more than the internet fax service. Now we have the one line at the house for security AND fax and use the cell phones for primary voice calls. Another perk is the land line is a more reliable connection in natural disasters and for 911. Another option for multiple use lines is a switch.

    Fax Switch

  6. Steven, thanks for mentioning the option of scanning documents so you can send via email. I do that too. When I’m back from a trip, I scan all of my receipts using either a CardScan (it’s for business cards but also perfect for little receipts such as from taxicabs) or I’ll use my NeatReceipts scanner. I create PDFs of everything and attach to a PDF of my QuickBooks invoice.

  7. [...] Posted by Steven Richardson under Software | Tags: fax, telephone |   There was an interesting post recently on the SCORE Women’s Success Blog about small businesses saving money on toll free [...]

  8. Just yesterday I was contemplating on getting a 800 number. Don’t really need one now. I do have an efax number which is very useful for incoming faxes…plus like you said it’s free.

    I also have an office jet printer/scanner/copy/fax machine and it works great!

    In regards to using the snail mail process, I have a account. There’s a monthly fee. However, the time you save by driving to and standing in line at the post office is well worth the cost.


  9. bahaderkhanVisitor

    Very insightful, reading it made me think about alot of different issues with a more wider look by the way the concept it really awesome and one that can be developed into a large scale profit key for small scale businessmen or women


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