A lot of people’s immediate reaction to being offered something for free is disbelieving skepticism. The assumption is that there must be a catch, a condition, a hidden cost. Sometimes, these sage cynics are right; a lot of conference call services claiming to be free do end up costing you money. Sometimes it’s in sign-up fees, sometimes they charge you for what they term ‘extras’, but which they know are almost always essentials, and sometimes it’s only free if you have a very small number of participants or a very small number of minutes. Wherever the charges are hidden, it’s causing a lot of confusion and mistrust in an industry which is trying desperately to clean up its image.
So do free conference calls exist? And if they do, how can it be possible? Well, the first answer is very simply: yes, they do. A great example of a totally free conference calling service, with no sign up is WHYPAY?. To get your free conference call room, all you have to do is hit the Big Green Button on the homepage, www.whypay.net. There’s certainly no inputting debit card details or any kind of payment information. Once created your first conference room, the job’s done: your room number and secure PIN are presented to you, and the room is yours to keep to dial into as frequently as you like. And don’t worry, the conference call room is extremely secure. And if you don’t believe me, ask the conference call experts. Of course, if you do want to make a (still totally free) account to access features like automatic conference call invites for your guests, you can do that too.
The second question is slightly more complex. There are basically two parts to answering it: firstly, how can it be free for you to place a call? And secondly, how can any company afford to give out free conference calls, and be making any money at all?
The reason that conference calling with WHYPAY? is free, is because it uses 03 numbers. Under Ofcom regulations, any number beginning with 03 has to be included within a caller’s bundled minutes which are provided in most phone contracts. That means that there is no actual cost to the caller. Even if you don’t have any bundled minutes available, the call must be charged at the standard rate for landlines. That much is quite simple.
Why any company would choose to provide this service for free might seem a little less straightforward. The very business-minded might ask: if they can charge for it, why don’t they? And it’s a fair question. Why give something away for free, if people are willing to pay for it? Well, WHYPAY? was created by Nexbridge Communications Ltd, as a way of trying to give something back to the telecoms industry and all its faithful users. That’s why WHYPAY? doesn’t charge you for the service provided, because it believes everybody should be able to access conference call services, because everybody can make use of them: from rock bands, to prayer groups, to private tutors.
Still, it’s not an entirely charitable, selfless act. WHYPAY? is still a business, and requires funding to keep running. So where are they making any money from? This, too, has a relatively unexciting answer – no scandals or miraculous donations from an anonymous, kind-hearted millionaire. The reason WHYPAY? can provide this service for everyone for nothing is because it receives a small out-payment from BT for every conference call that it connects. Although it’s a small amount per call, with a high enough volume of users WHYPAY? can afford to continue functioning and providing genuinely, absolutely, catch-free free conference calling to the world.