Free Conference Calls

Written by Blaire Chandler-Wilcox
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The definition of a "free" conference call is, of course, dependent upon its context. "Free" is one of the most effective words in advertising, and with good reason. People get funny about money, and though we love to spend, spend, spend when it's for fun, we tend to grip tightly when costs are associated with work. And of course, most of us are looking for something for nothing.

Promises of "free" conference are usually misleading, at best. For instance, your clients call in to a conference call using a toll-free number. This makes it "free" to them, but of course, someone is paying for that call, and that someone is you--or your company's accounting department.

"Free". . .Sorta

Another example would include the "free" calls ultimately made possible by the investment in conference call software. Other types of "free" conference calls include those covered by monthly-flat-fee plans offered by third party conference call services--which, after charging a substantial fee, allow you to make as many calls "for free" as you like.

To be fair, there do exist "free" conference call providers who charge no fee for connecting up to 96 users at a time, for periods of up to six hours in length. This kind of "free" call is probably the closest to what the word ought to mean: these companies do not charge for the calls; instead, they make their money by selling related communication products and services. However, though the connections are free, the call itself is still subject to local or international carrier rates.

Be a smart consumer. Though "free" never actually means free, it can mean affordability. Determine what your actual needs are versus your budget, and you'll make the right decision.

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