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  Culture  
     
  Why do you need a toll-free phone number (commonly known as an "800 number") in the U.S.?
 
  In the U.S., not having a toll-free phone number is like not having a street address! Customers in the U.S. are accustomed to making inquiries, getting customer support and placing orders "toll-free." Not only do customers not want to pay for the cost of the phone call, but also, they don't want to pay for the time they will be put on hold.
A toll-free phone number is like a Web address. It should be easy to remember, and if possible you should have an 800 number with your name in it (e.g., 1-800-COMPANY).
Nowadays, almost all combinations of letters are unavailable for numbers starting with 800, 888, 877. But the new numbers starting with 866 provide the same service and give you an opportunity to get the name of your company bundled in your phone number (1-866-COMPANY).
The best way to proceed is to call your long-distance carrier (AT&T, Sprint, or MCI for example) and ask for an 800 number. This will cost you less than $50 for the set-up, and a monthly fee of about $10. Specify that you want your toll-free number to be active in Canada too. Generally, customer-initiated calls will be charged at the same rate as if you had initiated the phone call.
The 800 number is linked to a regular phone number. This means that you can carry the 800 number with you when you move. It takes only 15 minutes to make the change.
 
     
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