Every so often I get a call from a customer who has misunderstood how Free Conference Call services work.  These people are usually upset about a higher-than-expected telephone bill which they’ve received.  That’s because when you make a free conference call, you still have to pay your telephone company a long distance charge to reach the conference calling service.  And usually that calling service is located in an out-of-the-way location, resulting in higher charges.

The difference between a free conference call service, a Calliflower Premium call and a traditional toll-free service is simply who pays and how much.

Free Service Calliflower Premium Service Toll-Free or 800# Service
Each participant makes a long distance call to participate in the conference call. Each participant makes a local call to participate in the conference call. The call organizer pays for each participant to join the call.
Cost: Whatever your carrier charges you for long distance. Cost: A flat $29.95/month rate. Cost: your toll free rate (7 to 10 cents/minute usually) multiplied by the number of participants.
So when does it make sense to use each of these options? Let’s look at a few scenarios and see!

Scenario 1: You have a weekly meeting with your team who are spread out all over the country.  There are 10 people in attendance at the meeting, and the meeting lasts for one hour each time. Your cost, using each of the service types above, would be:

Free Service Calliflower Premium Service Toll-Free or 800# Service
At $.10/minute for long distance, you would pay 60 x $.10 x 4 or $24. $29.95 At $.10/minute for the toll service, you would pay 60 x $.10 x 10 x 4, or $240.
Note: If you reimburse your team members for their long distance costs, you would be paying an additional $216, bringing your total to $240. Note: You can make as many additional calls as you like each month, and you won’t pay a penny more.
In this scenario, the clear winner is Calliflower Premium.  Not only does it cost less than the other two offerings, but you can use it for many more meetings than just the four weekly team meetings in a month. In addition, because the Calliflower account is good for two organizers, someone else in your office can also use it organize and manage conference calls.

Scenario 2: You are coordinating a project which requires 3 meetings of 90 minutes duration per week with team members including a PR agency in New York, a product manufacturing company in Singapore, and your head office in San Francisco.

Free Service Calliflower Premium Service Toll-Free or 800# Service
At $.10/minute for long distance, you would pay 3 x 90 x $.10 x 4, or $108. $29.95. Calliflower has local call-in numbers in each of the three cities. A leading conferencing provider charges $0.30/minute for Singapore dial-in.  Your cost would therefore be 2 x 3 x 90 x $.10 x 4 + 1 x 3 x 90 x $.30 x 4, or $540.
Note: You will also be expected to reimburse your contractors for their calling costs as well – a minimum of $216 more, bringing your costs to at least $324, depending on what a call from Singapore to North America costs. Note: You can make as many additional calls as you like each month, and you won’t pay a penny more.
Calliflower Premium has a clear price advantage for international conference calls, because of the flat rate pricing.

Scenario 3: You are coordinating 2 phone seminars as a marketing event.  No presentation is required. 100 participants will call in to listen to the seminar, ask questions, and receive answers.  The entire event will last one hour.

Free Service Calliflower Premium Service Toll-Free or 800# Service
At $.10/minute for long distance, you would pay 60 x $.10 x 2 or $12. $29.95 At $.10/minute for the toll service, you would pay 60 x $.10 x 100 x 2, or $1200.
Note: You can make as many additional calls as you like each month, and you won’t pay a penny more.
In this circumstance, the obvious winner is the free service.  However, it’s worth considering that for the $29.95 price of Callfilower Premium, you can make as many more calls in a month as you might want.

Scenario 4: You hold daily sales webinars for up to 10 prospects at a time.  Each call lasts 20 minutes, followed by 10 minutes of questions and answers.  A sales presentation must be delivered.

Free Service Calliflower Premium Service Toll-Free or 800# Service
At $.10/minute for long distance, you would pay 30 x $.10 x 20 or $60 for the calls.  In addition, you would pay $50 for a web conferencing service such as GotoMeeting, bringing your total to $110. $29.95, including the web conferencing. At $.10/minute for the toll service, you would pay 30 x $.10 x 20 x 10, or $600 for the phone calls.  In addition, you would pay $50 for a web conferencing service, bringing your total to $650.
Note: You can make as many additional calls as you like each month, which means that you could use Calliflower to close the deal with each of these prospects, and not pay additional.
Again, the Calliflower model wins this scenario because of flat rate pricing, and the fact that it includes web conferencing in that price.

Scenario 5: You manage a team of 5 business development representatives.  Two are located in London and cover Europe, two in North America, and one in Singapore, responsible for Asia.  Each representative makes an average of 5 calls per week of duration 45 minutes, with four participants.  In addition, there is one weekly team call of 90 minutes duration with the five representatives and yourself.

Free Service Calliflower Premium Service Toll-Free or 800# Service
No free service can accomodate this scenario. $29.95 for the initial account, plus $119.80 for an additional four organizers for a total of $149.75. Assuming $.10/minute for the toll service in North America, and $.30/minute for cross border calls in Asia and Europe, you would pay $990 for the business development calls, and $432 for the weekly team meeting calls, for a total of $1422.
The Calliflower Premium model really shines in this scenario for two reasons: cross border calling is grossly expensive on standard conference calling packages, and because Calliflower’s flat rate model doesn’t penalize the customer for heavy usage.

As the saying goes, your mileage may vary.  Perhaps you pay more, or perhaps less, for long distance calls than we’ve postulated in these examples.  Or, perhaps you’re on a flat rate plan, and long distance is simply included. However you calculate your results, the conclusions are inescapable:

  1. Free services make economic sense for those with light conferencing needs, or those with flat rate long distance plans.  The disadvantage of a free conference call service is that as your usage goes up, so do your costs.
  2. Toll-free services are convenient, but not economical.  Unless you have an ironclad requirement for national toll-free service, toll-free just doesn’t make sense.  Your costs rise as you use the service, and as your calls become larger.
  3. Flat rate, with local calling numbers, is usually the most economical choice of all.

At Calliflower, we don’t provide 800 number service.  We can’t buy toll free lines at any wholesale price that doesn’t make them into a rip-off for our customers.  But we do provide both a free conference calling service, and our premium conference calling service with document sharing and flat rate service via local dial-in numbers.  Choose whatever flavour you like, or your business needs, just so long as it’s not toll free.