Toll-Free Numbers Ring Up Big Sales for Small Companies

Small-business owners can now take advantage of the hefty long-distance discounts once available only to major corporations. Since AT&T introduced toll-free long-distance service in 1967, the use of 800 numbers has exploded. In 1967, 7 billion calls were logged to more than 250,000 numbers. And these figures don’t include all the competing companies offering 800 numbers service.

Every day, AT&T’s 800 directory assistance number-(800) 555-1212-handles 400,000 requests, AT&T spokesman Jim Sullivan said.

AT&T spokesman Gary Morgenstern said the company has marketing agreements to sell service to 21 aggregators. AT&T also offers group discounts directly to customers who qualify. “Our biggest competitors today are AT&T resellers,” said Morgenstern, adding that FCC regulations permit AT&T services to be resold by others.