You’ve built your toll free number to be the pulse of your business. It touches every part of your advertising, from your business cards, to your website, radio commercials, billboards, tv spots, and more. It’s your virtual receptionist, your technical support hotline, your sales contact, your voicemail service, and your dedicated fax line. It’s become an integral piece of your growing brand.
But now you want to transfer (or “port”) your toll free number to a new service provider. Can you do that?
The short answer is yes, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) protects toll free numbers and requires that they be portable. This means you can safeguard your valuable 800 number or vanity toll free number by moving it to the service provider of your choice at your discretion. There are, however, a handful of intricacies that can make the process more painful than it needs to be. Here are 5 important steps that can help you avoid common pitfalls and make the transfer of your toll free number as smooth as possible:
1. Make Sure Your New Provider Will Accept Your Transfer
This is one of the biggest blunders in transferring toll free numbers. Before getting started with the transfer process, make sure the new provider you’ve selected allows customers to transfer existing toll free numbers to their service. And while you’re at it, ask how much the transfer costs. A $30 one-time charge is standard. Anything more is unreasonable.
2. Verify Your Information with Your Old Provider
Figure out all of your account information that your old toll free number provider has on file. Get your name, your address, the credit card they have on file (last 4 digits), any passwords – everything they could reasonably ask about your account to verify your identity. Don’t be afraid to ask them to spell things out. You’re going to need this later, and it needs to be bulletproof.
3. Settle Any Outstanding Balance with Your Old Provider
While you’ve got them on the phone asking about your account info, make sure your account with your old provider is in good standing with no unpaid balance due. If your old service provider thinks you’re transferring your number to skip out on your bill, this is one of the few legitimate reasons they can use to prevent you from transferring your toll free number. Don’t give them this excuse – settle up before moving forward.
4. Contact Your New Provider to Start the Transfer
When you’re ready to transfer your toll free number, contact your new service provider – not your old one. Your new provider will generally provide a toll free number transfer form, sometimes called a RespOrg form, which you’ll complete, sign, and fax back. This form grants your new provider permission to transfer your toll free number to a new RespOrg, or the Responsible Organization in charge of maintaining and provisioning your toll free number.
This is where all that account information you collected previously from your old provider will come in handy. Make sure what you’re providing on the RespOrg form matches what your old provider has on file. Once received, your new provider will send this form to your old provider and begin the transfer process. Any mismatch whatsoever between what the form says and the account information they have can lead to your old provider rejecting your request and delaying the transfer of your toll free number.
5. Don’t Cancel Your Old Service Until the Transfer Is Complete
This is critical – your old toll free number service provider only has to honor your transfer request if your account with them is still active and, as mentioned before, in good standing. Even if you’ve only recently cancelled the service, your old provider can reject your toll free number transfer request indefinitely and you run the risk of losing the number permanently. Wait until you have definitive confirmation from your new toll free number service provider that the transfer has been completed, then contact your old provider to terminate your service with them.
Warning: You Can’t Transfer Shared-Use Toll Free Numbers
A “shared-use” toll free number is pretty straightforward – you’re agreeing to share the same toll free number with one or more other unrelated businesses, usually because the number has a rare vanity number spelling or is otherwise easy to remember. Each business gets a different piece of the toll free number, usually broken up by geographical region, but in the end the number belongs to the service provider and is only being leased out in bits and pieces. None of the businesses sharing the toll free number can take it with them if they want to move to a new provider.
In most cases, however, both the scarcity and value of these numbers are exaggerated and you can get your own very attractive vanity toll free number without the ridiculous price tag and headache that comes with sharing such an important part of your business with strangers. For this reason, FreedomVOICE does not offer, and generally discourages businesses from using a shared-use toll free number.