One Customer Experience

Toll Free texting as a game change? Well yes, but not just yet.

My gut feel this year was to seek a single, integrated phone/text app to use for toll-free texting. It just didn’t seem workable to have 2-3 separate apps for phone, text, and chat. Thus far, I haven’t found anyone that really gets this— and permits us to private label.

This week, my concerns were validated in an executive brief, Ending the Multichannel Frustration,” by Genesys Systems, a global multi-channel customer experience and contact center solution leader.

Genesys’ experience across various channels confirms the need to integrate our toll free texting app into one coherent interface. Here are key excerpts from this brief:

  • Continuity of Customer Experience: "Customers expect consistent, value-added answers across all media types. They also expect to be able to start an interaction using one medial type and complete it on another without having to restart the conversation.”
  • Ubiquitous Access to Customer Data: "Customer service agents do not have access to full customer data, product data, or records of prior interactions. They also use a number of disconnected applications when servicing their customers, and they struggle to find the right and relevant answers to a customer’s request."
  • App Integration: "Customer service technologies are at the heart of the solution for providing optimal customer experiences."

While I believe they got all this right, Genesys does not have the product for us. They are focused on desktop soft phones, the kind used by stationary call center reps. In my view, small business clients are more mobile and need iPad, iPhone, and Android enabled phones.


I’m equally impressed with the Shoretel iPad docking station. The concept is desktop phone you can “grab a go.” With such a dock, users can seemlessly go mobile whenever desired. Unfortunately, Shoretel’s iPad dock is proprietary and their position is to not work with anyone under 50 seats, so they have limited interest in a market of small retailers with a few employees each.

Finally, we need stability. In my view, our efforts should be centered on IOS devices. Although that may limit client choice, exposure to malware is minimized.

Tell me your thoughts?

Toll Free Texting

Toll-Free Texting* is a game changer!

Now, toll-free numbers can both call and text. Texting is often the preferred way for clients to communicate, yet employees prefer not to use their personal text numbers to interact with clients. 

The Wall Street Journal reported this month on the rise of "Two-phone Employees," motivate by both privacy concerns and the need to keep work-life in balance. Since toll-free texting is done from a software interface, employees can now keep their private numbers private!

We've identified apps that can access work from a private smart phone-- then be shut down on demand!

Call us at 1-800-Get-Rest (800-438-7378) and we'll show you how to make this happen!

* The term "toll-free" has become a bit of a misnomer, as only a voice call from a land-line is actually "toll-free." Well, there's a disclaimer there too. Wireless carriers bill on a per-minute basis regardless of whether the call is to a local or "toll-free" number and standard text message rates still apply

The Future of Toll-Free

As we look back over the past four decades at what made toll-free great, there were three prime movers:

  • Personal service
  • Free Calling
  • Instant commerce (relative to the alternatives of its day)

When long distance calls were expensive, "free calling" was accomplished through reverse billing -- the receiving party paid toll -- hence the name "toll-free." Essentially, merchants enticed customers to engage with them by offering "toll free" calls, which they gladly paid for in exchange for potential business.

That was also at a time when the only quick, personal way to place an order was by phone, averting impersonal catalog ordering by mail and later by fax.

Today, two of these prime movers are gone. "Instant commerce" is best accomplished via a website and calling is so cheap in North America that the benefit of "free calling" is incidental. Clearly the term "toll-free" is antiquated. Even if cell phones became truly "toll-free," that would have little impact now that even wireless calls are just pennies a minute. 

Of the three original prime movers, only personal service endures to this day, but that's a very big deal. 

Today's darling, Internet commerce, remains impersonal and self-guided, despite the addition of time-shared chats and the cutesy welcome videos by actors who seem to walk across the screen.

While it's generally quicker to order on-line-- partly because you can dispense with the pleasantries of a live conversation-- you have to know exactly what you want!

Even your questions are typically self-guided, as you are left to hunt your own answers among the FAQs or in some "knowledge base." In effect, websites are little more than a real-time versions of a 1960's catalog with dynamic, visual content.



In this scene from Star Trek IV, Scotty, an spaceship engineer from the future, first encounters a modern-day computer -- and talks to it!? In that instant he discovered what we've all but ignored: there's nobody "in there." 

The Inernet is just a big vending machine! Indeed, only someone from outer space would expect personal service from a computer or, by extension, a website!

In contrast, the expectation of a phone call is that you'll connect with and get personalized service from a live, human being-- and when we don't, we're frustrated!

Think about it. Would you ever say out loud to a customer: "Hey, I don't have time you. Go talk to my computer"-- especially now that you realize they are sure to have a Scotty moment? No way! 

Yet, that's precisely what we're doing when we just advertise our web address and not our toll-free numbers. When we need real human interaction, we all know what to do: pick up the phone!

Ally Bank has made great fun of this reality by portraying competitive bank websites as soulless robots, while they offer real human service, 24/7 by phone, e.g. "A machine can't give you what a person can." ... And that's precisely why toll-free creates an enduring, competitive advantage. 

Human interaction is not just a luxury; it's savvy business too. For example:

  • The founders of discovered their closure rates were 26 times higher, or 2,600%, by phone than by Internet, and built their new company Get A around that fact.
  • Zappos built their company on personal service. The fact that they sell shoes is almost incidental. Their real product is personal service. 

These are not success stories form the 1980's; these are a "reality check" from the post-Internet age.

The phone-- not the Internet -- is the high ground of remote sales and customer service, because we can convey more of ourselves by voice than we will ever express on a web page—aside from that visual thing!

Okay, so we humans are amazing, but is that all there is? Personal service? Will the Internet just envelope that too with the eventual addition of video telephony?

New Prime Movers

Beyond Personal Service, three new prime movers have emerged over the decades since toll-free was launched:

  • Universal Appeal
  • Caller Number
  • Privacy by Law

The first new prime mover in toll-free is universal appeal.  

Universal Appeal
The proliferation of countless new area codes has made the universality of toll-free numbers a primary advantage, especially the more familiar 800 and 888 numbers. 
In any given location, multiple area codes and overlays have been deployed with a confusing array of exchanges in various stages of functionality. Just look at hodgepodge of New York area codes!
In addition, when you use a local number its area codes will always be tied to some geographical area and, for example, 212 will remain associated with New York; 312 with Chicago, 202 with Washington DC; 310 with LA; and many, many others for decades to come. 


In contrast, when you advertise toll-free, you are anyplace and everyplace at once! Many areas require 10-digit dialing anyway, so using one, toll-free number gives you universality.

Caller Number  

The second prime mover in the renaissance of toll free is automatic number identification (ANI, pronounced like “Anne”). Think of ANI as un-blockable Caller ID, which facilitates a very significant feature of toll-free, number identity.

When toll-free was conceived, ANI was logged in the network and batched into a monthly call report to reconcile billing, but over the years these systems have evolved to where number identity has become available in real-time.

On toll calls, Caller ID is blocked at the network entry point, as only the primary carrier needs to know the caller’s number for billing purposes, e.g. think of your monthly cellular bill. Beyond that, callers are anonymous.... Or, are they?

In contrast, when the called party pays toll, anonymous calling is prohibited and ANI travels with the call -- even when Caller ID is blocked at the source. The host carrier “sees” the ANI of every call placed to its toll-free numbers, regardless of the unique path the call takes through the network among the hundreds of carrier participants.

If you want to see ANI in action, there’s a rogue app -- currently banned by Apple -- that unmasks anonymous calls, called TrapCall. It works by forwarding anonymous calls -- calls with Caller ID blocked -- to a toll-free number so that TrapCall can expose the ANI. The call is then returned to your phone unmasked-- with the real phone number revealed.

Like any powerful tool, ANI can be used for good or evil. Real-time ANI has allowed two powerful services to emerge: call routing and caller lookup.

Company’s like Telesmart and Paetec (formally McLeod) use ANI to route calls on a granular level. For example, calls can be routed in real-time – with continuous updates – on DMA, county, area code, or ZIP code, using the geo-location of the callers number.

Beyond routing, the number identity can often be cross-referenced with public – and not so public – records, which can often match the caller’s actual identity, i.e. caller look-up. Most routing services allow for this, but companies like Who’s Calling specialize in caller identity as a sales tool.

Auto dealerships, for example, may instantly learn your name, address, and demographics as you call in on one of their toll-free numbers. No such service is available when you advertise local numbers. This toll-free feature alone creates a powerful business advantage.


Privacy by Law

Finally, we're convinced that privacy protection will emerge as the most important prime mover. 

Number identity is not caller identity, unless the caller is already known to be associated with a number used in public records or in previously shared data. Even then, Number Identity is only available to the called party, not to 3rd parties, the public, or other marketers.

In the on-line world, this would equate to nothing more than a search for a user name associate with a "from address." Yet, unlike the on-line world, the contents of your phone conversations is protected by law.

Thanks to a 1920’s bootlegger and a 1960’s bookie, the right to telephonic privacy is now settled law; your lines cannot be wiretapped without a court order; your phone records cannot be disclosed to 3rd parties; and your conversation cannot be recorded without your consent.

The PBS documentry "Whispering Wires" documents how a police lieutenant, turned bootlegger, paved the way to telephonic privacy.


Watch Whispering Wires The Good Bootlegger on PBS. See more from Prohibition.


This protection was extended in the 1960's to conversations held in a public phone booth when, simply by closing the door, you have constitutionally protected right of privacy. Even your own phone company is required to ask for permission to use your phone records to discuss service upgrades – the very records they keep for you!

And remember TrapCall, the rogue service that unmasked Caller ID? The legal issue appears to be that the caller has an expectation of privacy when they block their Caller ID and dial a local number -- and that privacy is lost when calls are re-routed to TrapCall.

In contrast, all the legal protections we're come to expect on a phone call are generally absent when you visit a website, email, or submit data into on-line form. Whatever privacy you may be afforded is by policy, not by law. Websites like Facebook, Google, and others are constructing dossiers on their users for marketing purposes.

The Federal laws that protect privacy on a phone call may be bypassed with one-party consent; "consent" by the offending websites themselves has been ruled sufficient to track any and all visitors!

On-line, the major frustration going forward is not your privacy but that the biggest offenders -- those data aggregrators with the most market power -- will not pool private data, resulting in on-line profiles being kept like "walled gardens."

The expectation of privacy is at the crossroads of two different worlds. One dominated by privacy, the telephony world, where you only disclose personal data on a need-to-know basis; One dominated by identity stripping, the world wide web (WWW), where your personal data is methodically collected from every action and reconstructed into a persona used to create ad spam and even restrict or enhance what's visible to you on-line.

In one world, disclosure to 3rd parties would be a shocking violation of your privacy: “Hey look at this stupid ad! Why are the sending me deals on Pampers. OMG!.. They know I’m pregnant!!??

In the other world, an ever-present Big Brother: “Hey look at this stupid ad. Why are the sending me deals on Pampers when they know I like Huggies!”

Facebook, for example, is like a popular nightclub. Rather cool. Well populated. In 2012, it may be the in place to be!

Yet, who would hang out in real nightclub with dozens of cameras in every room, with every moment being recorded and personified; paparazzi and friends everywhere, posting photos in real time of your every move? Of course, if you are seeking the limelight, Facebook is the main stage. But when you're seeking privacy, there's nowhere to hide.

Websites like Facebook only remain popular, in our view, because there is nowhere else to go that is functionally equivalent with superior privacy protections. Currently, loss of privacy is the price you pay to play on these "free" websites.

The Missing Link

So, does toll-free have a future, or will it remain a niche media forever, like radio has become after the advent of TV? Are the costs of human interaction just too high to create a competitive advantage? Will there be a return to privacy or should we just "get over it," as Scott McNealy famously said. 

There’s only one thing conspicuously missing from the telephony world; one thing that would put 1-800-Flowers on par with visual interaction. While you can talk to real human beings when you call, you still can’t see a thing!

So, what happens next will be amazing!

Stay tuned...


Why "The Domain" Still Matters

I just returned from DomainFest, a first-class event put on by Oversee.Net each year in Los Angeles that focuses on Internet addressing.
The hot topic for discussion this year was the new, generic top level domains (TLD), as they are known -- up to 3,000 of them -- which are set to be reveled this spring and released in the next year,  generic TLD's like .law, .shop. .nyc, as well as proprietary ones like .ibm, .att., and others, so long as the applicant holds the trademark.
Domains tie into toll-free numbers by way of Magnetic Branding -- matching vanity toll-free numbers with Internet domains. Some well-known examples include 1-800-Progressive with, 1-800-Verizon with, 1-800-Priceline with, and even 1-800-Got-Junk with A great brand should be like Rome, only all roads lead to you!
What matters most is what endures in the minds of consumers. We all know that 800 numbers are considered the standard and everything else -- while functionally equivalent -- is considered second best. It's typical to hear someone say "My 800 numbers is 877-NXX-XXXX," using "800" as the generic name for toll-free.
The same is true for Internet domains. When someone asks, "Did you get THE DOMAIN?," they mean the .com domain of the the product or company name. "The domain" will always refer the the .com version regardless of how many TLD's are made available, just like the common reframe, "My 800 number is...." has endure despite having four other options.
Where other TLD's have been rolled out over months, if not years, these new TLD's will be released en masse. Releasing thousand of domains head to head will be a grand experiment in commerce.  
Movie producers worry about blockbuster status when just a few other movies debut at this same time, so just imagine the affects of having thousands released at once. How does any one of them get noticed? Obscurity and consumer confusion is guaranteed and, given the massive investment to authorize each new domain-- $180,000 just for the application -- many may fail from lack of adoption.
So how does one stand out in this brave new world? 
Smart maketers will go with what's well understood by the masses. Magnetic Brands like 1-800-Progressive and need no further explanation; They include an 800 number and a .com address. 
That's what consumers know -- toll-free 800 numbers and .com Internet addresses-- and there is not a domain thing anyone can do to change that.

FCC-- Workshop 2

The Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) in Transition

The second of two workshops on the PSTN in Transition was held Wednesday, December 14, 2011 at the Federal Communication Commission, 9am Eastern. A replay should be available soon.  

"We're not taking away Grandma's phone," declared the opening speaker. The idea here is that we should refer to the transition as "rebirth and renewal" rather than the sunset of the PSTN. Don't scare Grandma! 

IP Telephony matters. These are the clients of our toll free services. Yet, even of those who have adopted VOIP, the vast majority still use conventional touch tone phones as their interface. 

The reality of the IP world in place today may best be demonstrated by this FCC webcast itself. During the course of Wednesday's six-hour broadcast, the picture froze or disconnected every 10-15 minutes and there was constant buzz in the audio -- even before the sessions began. Was this due to our IP provider? My computer? Maybe the FCC uplink? Who knows, and who would you call if you really needed quality of service?

One speaker likened the PSTN transition to a Quarter-Life Crisis; where adolescence ends and adult responsibility begins. Another noted that social values apply - privacy, public safety, disability access, etc. -- regardless of what technology is deployed. Another lamented that if we can't first agree on values, we will never agree on policy.

"Transitions take time," stated another who offered a striking example: The last hand-cranked telephone was not decommissioned until 1983, decades after it was declared "dead." One speaker called into question the viability of enum as the basis of future addressing, given the necessity of universal adoption (More of that and it's implications to toll free numbers soon).

Despite one speakers observation that the PSTN transition is 75% complete, where we really are may best be summed up by an expression of gratitude at the end of today's session: "Thank you for helping us to begin our planning." 

Sit back. Take a breath. The planning has just begun. Toll Free Numbers are going be serving a parallel universe for quite some time.

See Part 1 Here!

A Real Eye Opener!

The Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) in Transition

A workshop on the PSTN in Transition was held Tuesday, December 6, 2011 at the Federal Communication Commission, 9am Eastern. A replay is available on line. A second, all day workshop is scheduled for December 14, 2011.
This IP Telephony transition will have great impact on the world of toll free numbers and services. Local callers are the clients of our toll free services, and their interface limits functionality. Most still use touch-tone phones despite having an on-premise VOIP.
It was striking at first that this FCC meeting on the PSTN in Transition would open with public safety, disability access, and rural access issues, but once the presentations began it all became clear.
Indeed, it was explicitly stated: " The primary mission of the PSTN is first response, not IP Telephony," so let's awake from this vision of sugar plum fairies dancing on our enum handsets anytime soon. Clearly, it's the steak, not the sizzle that will slowly drive the transition from PSTN to an all IP-based phone system. 
The thinking by public safety experts is that this "Next Generation" will be wireless, although the current cellular networks are not hardened nor configured for high reliability. Experts envision a fully interoperable "LTE over IP network" where first responders will retain robust access during emergencies while other calls -- our calls, for example -- will be, well, "dropped on the floor."
From the disabilities perspective, not so quick. Wireline holds significant advantages over wireless and VOIP, like voice quality, high reliability, no battery charging, ready dial-tone, access to audio directory assistance, tactile keys, and a well-understood user interface. 
A move to IP Telephony would be the single biggest change since the transition away from live operators in the 1920's, a time when the phone company came around to schools to teach kids how to dial phones.
Julius Genachowski, Chairman, FCC, reminded the group that we don't want to lose any of the benefits the PSTN currently offer. Further, he noted, that it was the "universialization" of the telephone system that drove economic success in the 50's, 60's and beyond and that this next transition will not move seamlessly without planning, planning which has barley begun.
What's new this time is the IP transition will not be ushered in by a monolithic phone company, but by private competitors with proprietary interests. To say this will be like herding cats would be kind. This will be more like herding wolves and sheep and then leaving them alone-- somebody's going to have a bad night!
While not as sexy, it is public safety issues along with disability and rural access that will drive the timeframe required to deploy an IP-based telephone network, not deadlines and dreams of visual telephony dancing in our heads.
The good news is that the vision is clear and shared by all; we will be moving to an IP based system.

1-800 Main Street

With the rush of capture 855 numbers last month, what better time than now to put this new toll free code in perspective.

To be sure, all toll free numbers are functionally equivalent. That means whether you have an 800, 888, 877, 866, or 855 number, they all work the same.

Yet, there are remarkable differences in perception and, when it comes to marketing, perception matters. If you’ve been around the toll free world very long, you’ve undoubtedly heard someone say, “My 800 number is 888-782-….” Or, “We have an 800 port request for 877-456-…”  The point here is that “800” is the original toll-free code and – like a “.com” for Internet domains – “800” has become generic for toll-free, and the public uses toll-free and 800 interchangeably. 

Next up was the 888 exchange which not only looks special – given the triple 888 – but was afforded a great deal of a public attention when 800 numbers were replicated in the 888 code and even more when there was talk of auctioning off the replicated 888 numbers. Despite their added publicity and being in-use since 1996, if 800 numbers are “Main Street,” 888’s are still a second level address. Damn nice, but second best.

While 800 and 888 are clearly unique and well known, the rest, 877, 866, and the new 855 numbers, are all confusingly similar to local exchanges and are not universally known to be toll-free numbers. Each of these subsequent toll free codes have at least one active area code that is just a digit off, 877 has 878 (Pittsburg overlay), 866 has 868 (Republic of Trinidad and Tobago) , and 855 has 858 (North County, San Diego), for example, but there are others.

In addition, there was virtually no publicity surrounding the opening of 877, 866, and – as many of you have seen first hand -- the 855 code, so it should come as no surprise that it’s been an uphill battle to win over the hearts of minds of the public-- especially at a time when being “toll-free” has lost any real significance.

In effect, everyone knows that 800 numbers are toll free, and most people know that 888 numbers are as well. Yet, the others are just as likely to be confused with the generic 800 version when the requisite “toll free” label is applied, as they are to be confused with local, geographical exchanges.

To put this graphically, imagine a multi-level building with the street-level, retail 1-800 store open to main street, while the other codes occupy upper levels at the same address. Anyone dialing a “toll free” address is likely to gloss over the actual code and wander into the 800 store,  i.e. dial the 800 version. This confusion exists despite adding the label “toll free” which, by necessity, keys the caller that the published number is not just some out-of-state, local exchange.

When it comes to marketing, these shortcomings make it preferable to use 800 numbers whenever possible to target new customers, i.e. prospecting. What you never want to do is advertise an upper-level address, only to drive prospects to a direct competitor in the retail, 800 space below.

Yet, upper level addressing may be perfectly fine for customer care and other functions where customers are compelled to find you. Here, even if they wander into the main street location, they’ll keep searching.

The bottom line; Neighbors matter.



Shark Attack!

"Joey" could not contain his inner shark when he heard National A-1 –- the call center companion to Primetel -- was raided last week, reportedly as a result of, a site, like Craig’s List, that may have been abused by prostitutes under the pretense of running escort services.

Mr. Bill Quimby, in an article naively published by the Philadelphia Inquirer and on, promotes Mr. Quimby’s illusion that this prostitution inquiry will somehow affect the toll free industry. In it, he states that, “They’re more mafia-like than any organization I’ve seen or heard,” and -- most strikingly -- accuses Primetel of criminal fraud, “They forge paperwork, yank numbers; they don’t care what other people think about them."

If you’re looking for a “national expert” on how to “forge paperwork, yank numbers,” then Joey “The Shark” Quimby is your man. His lashing out at National A-1 has all the moral authority of Bernie Madoff accusing others of running Ponzi schemes.  

Mr. Bill Quimby has over 300 documented "yanks" this year alone, and over 1,000 in recent years. To put this activity into perspective, Mr. Bill Quimby’s “yanked” more than twice as many numbers with than the 5 major carriers combined, in their normal course of business, specifically, AT&T (9), Sprint (31), Verizon (3), Qwest (86), and Global Crossing (3).

While these major carriers manage millions of numbers, Mr. Bill Quimby manages around 30,000, many of which are brazenly for sale as “premium numbers” on his website -- instantly delivered (read that as illegally warehoused).  In the same period, Primetel (19) executed about a dozen and a half SMS-10’s, while managing over 2 million numbers.


 The toll free oversight committee, SNAC, has called for the investigation of Mr. Bill Quimby and others who abuse the SMS-10 process, and DSMI banned the use of SMS-10’s for number in transitional status, reportedly to block the late-night seizures by Mr. Quimby, almost always on the very night the disconnected numbers would have, otherwise, gone spare. In effect, Mr.Bill Quimby’s “cutting in line” service was depriving the public of any chance at these numbers. His published fees for this “service” were just under $1,000, so it would be reasonable to assume that Mr. Quimby “earned” over a quarter of a million dollars this year alone by allegedly hijacking toll-free numbers in the dark of night.

Mr. Bill Quimby contends that his “cutting in line” service obtains the signatures of the rightful subscribers. Funny, though, that these “old customers,” always seem to sign documents on the day their numbers go spare – hundreds purportedly have – always around 7-9 PM, Eastern. Right!

We don’t buy Mr. Quimby’s contention. After witnessing first hand his late night seizure of 1-800-Go-Power with forged paperwork, we learned for a fact he never contacted the rightful subscriber. There have been many similar reports. If you have a documented incident of fraud to share, please contact us at Remember, the subscribers right of privacy does not extend to 3rd parties commiting wire fraud, so there's no legal requirement to hide forged paperwork.

It is essential to note that Mr. Quimby’s seizures have recently come to a halt because he’s been spooked by the potential of an investigation– not because of this ban on “yanking” numbers in transitional status. More to the point, if he had been legally rescuing numbers for the rightful subscribers, why would he stop? Mr. Bill Quimby could have easily got around the ban by recovering disconnected numbers two days earlier in the cycle, when they are typically in disconnect status, had he really had “old customers” signing legitmate documents. We believe that the true nature of his "cutting in line" service is self-evident.

At any rate, Mr. Bill Quimby's public attacks on Primetel were unwarranted and untruthful, and are especially insidious coming from someone who has made, “yanking” numbers an art form. From our considerable experience, it is uncharacteristic for "Primetel" to "yank" toll free numbers, certainly not without the legal paperwork.

Finally, the article also relays a story of a New York businessman, Jan Uzzo, whos number was reported "taken," by Primetel.  More likely, it was picked up by Primetel. Usually, numbers are lost after they've been disconnected for non-payment, and drop spare. Sadly, once numbers go spare they are unretrievable, so Uzzo's comments may be a result of misplaced anger.  If anyone knows Mr. Uzzo, please encouage him to contact us at and we will be glad to run a history on the toll free number in question.

DSMI terminates portability!

On April 4, 1997 the aging period for disconnected toll-free numbers was reduced from 6 month to 4 months, as a conservation measures. On July 23, 2010, DSMI and the SMS/800 Help Desk inexplicably terminated subscriber rights during this 4-month aging period.

According to the July 23rd CSB Notification, "Effective immediately, the SMS/800 Help Desk will no longer perform Resp Org Changes on numbers in a Transitional status, as there is no customer of record."

"No customer of record?" ....Huh?

Based on this unilateral directive -- there was no FCC mandate-- your RespOrg can now forego a disconnect announcement and go directly to transition status -- think AT&T, the company that does this on every number -- and your rights as a subscriber are terminated on the first day of disconnection!

Sure you can still reclaim your numbers, but only through your existing RespOrg. Your portability rights have been unilaterally terminated.

That means if you have a billing dispute -- even an unreasonable one -- your RespOrg once again has the ultimate leverage to spare or reconnect your numbers at their discretion. It's pre-1993 all over again!

In the eyes of DSMI, there will be no relief from the Help Desk, the venue of last resort, as YOU have been banished as "customer of record." What were they thinking!!??

DSMI was contacted, but declined to comment.

Stay tuned. This is bound to get ugly!

Joey “The Shark” Quimby

The following is a fictional interview with Joey "The Shark" Quimby, Alleged mastermind of the Quimbino Crime Family. Although the questions are factually accurate to the best of our knowledge, the responses are, shall we say, embellished and stylized -- purely for fun! We do not speak for any actual person known by Bill Quimby, Joey Quimby,"The Shark," or for the producers of, "Mayored to the Mob."


An EXCLUSIVE Interview with Joey “The Shark” Quimby

by Katie Calling, of the TOLL FREE JOURNAL.

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: Thanks for having us today, Joey. So this is your New Jersey hideout. Very quaint. That rotary phone is a nice touch.

Quimby: ‘Dats right, ‘dis is our new joint. Geet yet?


Quimby: Geet yet? Don worry. I got ‘cha covered. Hey Vinny? Run down to Joisey Mike’s and bring us some grinders. [turning to Katie]. It’s a “family” business, you know.

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: So, you are the mastermind behind the Quimbino crime “family,” that runs the toll free industry?

Quimby: ‘Dat ‘ed be me, Capo Di Tutti Capi, the “boss of all bosses”... Capi dei Toll Free. I run the Commission.


Quimby: Well, it’s like I run the commission! What kind of Capi dei Toll Free would I be?... Hey, ‘dat rhymes! Let’s just say, we take some poetic license with ‘dose 95-155 rulings.

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: Yes, that's well documented. We understand you’ve personally taken care of over 50,000 customers. Wouldn’t that be one new customer every hour since you’ve started in business 15 years ago?

Quimby: 500.. 5,000.. 50,000, what’s da difference? It’s all good money.

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: So you really don’t have 50,000 customers?

Quimby: Look, I’m just tak’en care of business. How should I know? “Hey Vinney?” How many dopes wease got?... “Ah, he already left. Let’s just say we have more than anyone on the planet, ever.

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: And almost 2,000 testimonies?

Quimby: Yeah, we got test'a'moans. We got 100 refers too. Who else’s got all ‘dat?

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: There’ve been some accusations that you wrote some of those yourself. Is that true?

Quimby: How ‘bout ‘dem sharks? Do you’se know about ‘dose sharks running out there?

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: I thought we were taking about your testimonies?

Quimby: Hey, nobody can make up shit like I can, okay? Before I got into the “family” business, I used to polish ‘dose flunkies resumes down on 'da Joisey Shore.

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: And these testimonies have a remarkably consistent voice.

Quimby: You know ‘dat word, “resumes?” It’s a big one, Katie, but you look like a nice girl whose been schooled. Lipstick on a pig; Lipstick on a pig, ‘dat was my specialty.

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: So you wrote those testimonies and references yourself?

Quimby: So, we used a little persuasion? What of? Me and my boys get things done.

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: Ever been convicted of a crime?

Quimby: Convicted?.....[long pause].... Naw.

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: You say in your July 17, 2010 post that if you ever went out of business, you’d go to work for the FCC. There are those in our industry who believe you’ll be going out of business when the FCC arrests you. Which is it?

Quimby: Arrested? Me, arrested? Those flunkies down at the FCC don’t got not’en on me! Do you hear me? Not’en!… Well maybe ‘dat cutting-in-line racket. Man, ‘dat was like shooting fish in a barrel! But, how would ‘dey know? ‘Dey don’t know not’en. Beside, ‘dey're not the boss of me!

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: You virtually lead the industry in emergency SMS-10's with 289 since January (download "EMERGENCY SMS-10, 2010 by Bill Quimby of TollFreeNumbers (QZ) and others" and view with Excel). During the same period, AT&T -- with millions of numbers under management -- only executed 9, while Sprint had 31 and Verizon had 3. 

Quimby: Was ‘dat a question?

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: Do you expect anyone to believe you’ve had almost 300 “emergencies" since January, 2010? Many, just hours before the numbers were to go spare?

Quimby: Hell, yeah! Do you think this lifestyle comes cheap. Hey, every dope who got one of ‘dose hijacked numbers paid just $999 juice. Wasn't that noble of me?

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: Well, your clients must certainly believe you’re a brave and noble man.

Quimby: I think of myself as Robin’ ‘da hood. Ha!... “Robin' ‘da hood.” Do ‘ya get it? Toll-free, dat’s my “hood.”

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: Okay, as I understand it you justify your services by saying you're, "getting numbers for end users," but you're just seizing them through the Help Desk with fake or irrelevant signatures. Aren't you like a fence, selling stolen goods to unsuspecting end users? 

Quimby: Hell, no! We're full service. We do 'da fence AND do 'da 'Jack'ens. Who else does all 'dat?

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: So you signed the LOA's for all those Help Desk actions yourself? 

Quimby: No way! Everybody knows me down at 'da Help Desk, so I had to cool it. I just have Vin... Well, how should I know who signs?

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: You mean Vinnny? The guy who just ran to Jersy Mikes?

Quimby: How should I know? We're really big. Really big.  Maybe my daughter.. my wife or some'en.

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: You had your loved ones commit felonies?

Quimby: Hey, how is it a felony when you don't get caught? ... Besides, nobody enforce'n not'en down there at 'dat commission! We get numbers for end users. End users!

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: But you need authority of the rightful subscriber to seize a number.

Quimby: Who's checking?...  The Help Desk just does what I ask. We get numbers for end users. End users!

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: So, you believe the end justifies the means?

Quimby: Don't get all confus'en on me! It's for "end users, end users" and, yeah, I put through the paperwork and it "just flies" right through. So, yeah, 'da end user just flies, ya know what I mean, or whatever you said....'Da're sharks out there! Don't you want to ask about 'dose sharks?

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: You're not worried the FCC is going to check those fake documents to see if the rightful subscribers actually signed them?

Quimby: A cuma ma ta'da


Quimby: Yeah. No worries.

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: So, what brought you to upstate New York then back to New Jersey?

Quimby: Well, I did leave on short notice. Let’s just say it was an offer I couldn’t refuse. Hey, those Internet tubes don’t reach to ‘da Joisey Shore, do ‘dey? It wouldn’t be good for nobody to know where I was.

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: Well, I won’t tell anybody… So, you run your New York business from right here in New Jersey?

Quimby: Hey, it ain’t good to eat where you s&*%. Besides, if one of ‘dose Federal officers comes hunt’en me down with a subpoena or some’em, how ‘dey gonna find me?

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: But, you’re hiding out in your parent’s basement. They might think to look here.

Quimby: Now ‘DAT was low! I gots my own entrance, don’t I?

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: Touchy. Touchy… No need to be so touchy, Joey. But, do you really think with a name like "Quimby" you can just change from Joey to Bill Quimby, and no one will know who you are?

Quimby: Wit’ 'dis receding hair and ‘des nerdy glasses, ‘dhey’ll never know it’s me. Beside, I’ve been lifting weights since I got back. Just look at ‘des guns!

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: Impressive. Okay, let’s turn to this new 855 site you and your boys put up.

Quimby: There are sharks out ‘dar! Let’s talk about ‘dose vanity number sharks.

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: I’d rather ask about  You know, the site you launched with a slot machine for ….

Quimby: Allegedly! Do you’se see any slot machines now? Huh, do ya?

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: ....Well, there are archives of the site and there was a slot machine until you took it down. Anyway, I was just saying it is a site for requesting 855 numbers?

Quimby: Brilliant piece of work, if I do say so. And the Vig!


Quimby: Ya know, Vigorish. "Dat's Italian for, "‘Dose dopes put in $8.55 for every “chance” ‘dey take, and there are millions of numbers; millions of dopes!" Not only ‘dat, you can buys a “chance” on 85 different phone companies. I’m sure we’ve only made a few hundred bucks, ‘dough, so what’s all ‘da commotion?

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: Loren Stocker of Vanity International reports that you may have sold $65,000 worth of “chances” in first hours, and $150,000 by the next day.

Quimby: Now, HIM I don’t like. He’s a stoolie. I’m just a “family” man running a little numbers game. Why does he have to keep blow’en my cover? Is ‘dat the rat who broke ‘da story?

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: Do you expect anyone to believe you’ve only made, “a few hundred bucks,” when your own request counter said you processed over 18,000 requests in the first 24 hours?

Quimby: Of course. How silly of me.

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: Loren feels you were deceiving the public into believing that you actually run the “clearing house” for toll free 855 numbers, when you have little or no connection to any of the 85 legitimate companies listed—and certainly no permission to take orders for AT&T, Verizon, and others.

Quimby: I been clocking him. That RAT is always trying to muscle in on MY action. Why’s everyone looking at me when he’s the one wit' 'da, "pretty bad reputation!" Have you seen that posted on my site? He's got a "pretty bad reputation," just because I say so!

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: Isn’t that a projection? Eveyone works with Loren. But, aren't YOU are the only toll free “professional” -- and I use that word loosely -- who Loren won't work with? And, aren't there are dozens of other professionals who operate on mutual respect, yet want nothing to do with you?

Quimby: So what if ‘dose sharks all 'tink I’m a weasel. Do I care that ‘dey won’t allow me at their gatherings? Fer’get about it! ‘Dat’s no projection, 'dats a VENDETTA for ‘dat rat Loren! He’s not the leader, I AM THE LEADER; THE LEADER OF 'DA TOLL FREE WORLD! Who needs followers! …Especially a bunch of loser, broker, vanity number sharks! And, besides, ‘dis Loren guy only gets numbers for himself.

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: But, I know Loren and he helps people get great vanity toll free numbers, like you do. Didn’t you copy-cat his business model when you first got started in toll free numbers?

Quimby: Your point?

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: We’ll, I’m just asking. Didn’t your original website have a pirated version of Loren’s 1995 Adverting Age article with YOUR name on it?

Quimby: Oh, ‘dat. So, ya’ gotta break a few eggs to make an omelet. You gotta problem with ‘dat?

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: Okay, and it says here you have over $432,000 in Judgments against you. Any concerns the state will come down on you?

Quimby: Lies! All lies, you got me?

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: But, you just made $150,000 in one night.

Quimby: It’s a Family business!... So what if my daughter makes a nice living? What of?

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: But she’s not even old enough to work. Didn’t you just say you were the, "boss of the bosses?"

Quimby: Hey! Me?.. I’m just scrap’en by. Do I look like a guy with attachable assets? Not one! Zippedy. Zipo. Zip. If I did, I’d have defends myself and ‘DAT would blow my cover! See? Always 'tinken.

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: Yes, that seems like a brilliant cover. Let’s get back to this 855 Numbers racket.

Quimby: Hey, what’da ya mean by “racket?” We’re just running a little numbers here… And what about ‘dose sharks out there?

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: Sorry, I didn’t mean to say "racket." You said in your July 14 rant that there’s, “no such thing or reason for an agreement” with any of the 85 phone companies listed on the site?

Quimby: Hey, why is everyone focused on me. There are sharks out there. ‘Dey’re the real bad guys.

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: But, aren’t you a shark?

Quimby: Don't GET TECHNICAL! I hate technicalities. It’s DOSE sharks you have to watch out for! We just sell protection. We protect ‘dose dopes from ‘dose sharks.

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: But aren’t you the one running this “little numbers game,” as you put it?

Quimby: So?

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: Well people want to know what they’re getting for their money.

Quimby: Why do ‘dey need to know?

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: It’s just right. They pay money and you provide a service, right?

Quimby: All ‘dey need is to believe we’re providing a service. Just believe.

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: But how can you provide a service here? You have no relations to the 85 phone companies listed on the site.

Quimby: I’m collect’en names, collect’en names. Lottsa names. It’s a "win-win!"

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: Won’t these 85 phone companies want to collect the names themselves? They will certainly put their own best customers first on their 855 request lists, ahead of your lottery players.

Quimby: ‘Dey’re not ready.


Quimby: Yeah, ‘dey’re not ready, so I get to do it. “Window of Opportunity,” you follow? I wrote the book on ‘dat!

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: But what happens when you take an 855 number request to AT&T and it gets rejected? You must realize that customers believe they’re actually on AT&T’s list, not yours? Didn’t you say you, “instantly verify, free of charge, that no one else has Requested this 855 number with your phone company?

Quimby: Allegedly! Allegedly! Where does it say ‘dat now? ‘Dat site is squeaky clear and I’m just take’en a list. Why don’t you ask me about da sharks out there? ‘Dey're the really danger!

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: And you must know that customers will have to call AT&T themselves.

Quimby: Why? Nobody needs to dial nobody! ‘Dey just pays me money and fuggedabout it!

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: These are actual orders for phone service. AT&T is not going to take orders from some guy with a clip board. You can’t just sign or submit a 3rd party request for service, so won't customers need to place these orders themselves?

[NOTE: Here's a copy of an actual, "Request to AT&T for 888 Number Reservation(s) from January, 1996. Signature was required and each order was placed by the individual customer. Nothing has changed. A "request" with AT&T and others is an actual order for service and -- absent an agency relationship with the phone company -- orders must be placed by the customers themselves].

Quimby: Why is everyone focused on me? There are s-h-a-r-k-s out there!!! ‘Dey are the vanity number s-h-a-r-k-s!

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: Okay, okay. What about these other sharks?

Quimby: Death Threats seem to work.


Quimby: And nobody F&%$s with me! Follow? Or, I twist their faces and slander 'dem on my tollfreenumbers site and everywhere else. Nobody hates on me! Ya hear me? Nobody! Do ‘dat, and I become their WORST NIGHTMARE!

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: Slander? Nightmare?

Quimby: [Softly now] See, Katie, we’re just selling protection, a’right? Let’s say some dope doesn’t know to call his phone company next Tuesday. We’re going to remind him to make ‘dat call, and we’ll be first to remind him ‘cause he’s first on our list. Ya’ follow? Dat’s “protection.”

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: But, you’re selling hundreds of “chances” at each phone company. Don’t customers only need one reminder?

Quimby: Just look at the big picture. ‘Dose dopes are dreaming about landing great numbers like 855-Flowers, 855-Lawyers, 855-Dentist -- worth way more than $8.55 -- so ‘dey pay up. ‘Dey just need to believe ‘dey have a real shot, a real shot! Ya follow? ‘Dey just need to believe.

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: Your customers believe they are placing requests at any of 85 actual phone companies, and you don’t see a problem with that?

Quimby: Hey, ‘dey won’t get ‘dose numbers anyway, so fuggedabout it! You know we like to help, right? Dat’s all we’re doing is helping. ‘Dey’re dream’en and we’re helping ‘dem dream. It’s a, "win-win," capish?

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: Okay, Joey, so now that you’ve stopped charging for requests, let’s get specific. You collected almost 2,000 requests for AT&T alone at $8.55 each.

Quimby:  ‘Bout $170 in vig’, right? Chump change, ya see?

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: But, you just said you had, “almost 2,000 requests.” Isn't that’s closer to $17,000 in “vig.”

Quimby: Was ‘dat a question?

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: You confess in your September 16, 2010 posting, “We’ve had a Range of Responses,” that your 855 request lists were rebuffed by all the major carriers.

Quimby: I am buffed, but ‘DEY had not’en to do with it. I’m 'da guy who went to gym.

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: Bell Canada, Qwest, and Global Crossing rejected your list and told you that all these, “real customers” -- you’re say you're so concerned about -- had to contact them directly. The others, Sprint, Verizon, XO, and AT&T won’t even return your calls.

Quimby: Like I said on ‘da site, “most of the companies just took the list and will add it to their own master list.” Most of ‘dem means a MAJORITY; over 50 percent!

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: Perhaps, but you must know that the "majority" of the 855 requests themselves – around $100,000 worth -- went to these seven major carriers. All were either REJECTED or IGNORED. 

Quimby: Soooooo? 

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: Then, in their legal notice to you, one of these major carriers stated that they, “did not request and does not appreciate the “service” you purport to be providing for us and our customers in regard to requests for 855 numbers.“

Quimby: Assholes! 

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: Their concern was that by taking requests for a fee that, “you are misleading [real customers] and creating unreasonable expectations that neither you nor we can fulfill.  Further, they put you on legal notice that they are holding, "you responsible for any complaints or claims [their] customers make."

Quimby: What do ‘day know? I’m the LEADER of the toll free, no ‘dem!

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: Now that this 855 request scheme has proved to be folly, what are going to do?

Quimby: We’re going to Disneyland.

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: What did you do for this $100,000 you seemed to have bilked from the public? 

Quimby: We’ll we went to Chili’s last night. We love ‘dose Faitas! Ever try ‘dat? 

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: I’m sure Chilis’s is nice, but for $100,000 in request fees you just sent emails and left a few messages?

Quimby: As I say in my post of September 20, 2010, “I merely [offered] to send the requests of my customers to their phone company.” 

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: And when you wrote back to the General Counsel of that publically traded company, did you really start your letter, “Dear Mr. Lawyer.”

Quimby: Nice touch, don’t you ‘tink?.. Restrained... At the time I was ‘tink’en, “Hey, Look Asshole:”

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: You stated in that letter that, “Nothing I have said or done is misleading [customers] to believe that I represent [publically traded phone company],”

Quimby: See? Are we squeaky clean or what?

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: The letter goes on. You state, “Actually if you had looked at my websites you would see that quite the opposite is true.”  Do you expect anyone to take your current website as proof?

Quimby: Yep. We’re taking order for free now!

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: But it’s months later-- and you've whitewashed the site! When those “dopes,” as you put it, paid $100,000+ you said, "We tried to make it fun. We hope you enjoy the “game.” Good luck and thanks for playing," and were taking orders on a slot machine…


TOLL FREE JOURNAL: … and you promised to, “verify free of charge that ….

Quimby: WE DID! WE DID! None of ‘dose dopes requested twice. It’s verified.

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: But you said you would, "instantly verify, free of charge, that no one else has Requested this 855 number with [their] phone company;" the actual company.

Quimby: Look. I’ve got lots of “company.” My wife, daughter, Vinney,… Why would I need any more company? We’re all going.

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: What about the promise you made?

Quimby: I’m follow’en through. I promised my daughter we’d go, and we’re going to Disneyland.

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: Huh? Aren’t you going to issue a refund ?

Quimby: Do you ‘tink I’m out of my frig’en mind? Refunds would be like saying I was guilty or some’em! I just ran a numbers game. There ‘re winners and losers. Those dopes are just losers.

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: So what are you going to do when AT&T, or one of the other major carriers, actually reserves one of these requested 855 numbers and gives it to somebody else?

Quimby: I’m going to say ‘dat $8.55 request was lost at AT&T.

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: You’re going to lie?

Quimby: 'Dat's NO lie. I sent 'dem 'da list!

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: But what happened to, “Welcome to, your clearing house for 855 Requests.” You said you were the “clearing house;” That you would, “verify, free of charge;” that you would, “coordinate the requests with each phone company.”

Quimby: Hey, what’da you want for $8.55 ?

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: A real service. The truth, maybe?

Quimby: You want truth! You want truth? I’ve got a lifestyle! LIFESTYLE!!! I can’t be worried ‘bout some jerk-off lawyer or stupid judgements.

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: So, something like $100,000 in 855 requests ended up in some spam folder and nobody returns your calls? Do you feel any remorse?

Quimby: “We most,” did you say? We mostly feel it's been great. Most of the carriers took ‘da lists. Over 50%! Over 50%! 


Quimby: Yeah. I got regrets. I could’a done more -- could'a made millions in "vig" -- if it wasn’t for that stoolie, Loren. "We tried to make it fun," and all he did was whine about integrity, "one-armed bandits,"and shit like that [a small tear trickles down Quimby’s cheek].

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: So you believe that Loren spoiled your fun? Cost you millions?

Quimby: Yeah. We needs a truce. You tell 'dat RAT, I'll stop lying about him, if he stops truth'n about me!

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: Joey, I think it's too late. The truth about you is out there. It's well documented.

Quimby: Well, I gotta a lawyer and turned him in to the FCC -- just as 'dose 855 numbers are being launched. That'll fu%& him good!

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: I heard. Loren was glad to hear you have some adult supervision

Quimby: He's gonna sell 855 numbers to the highest bidder 

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: Huh? How's he selling numbers? He charges professional service fees to secure numbers, just like you do.

Quimby: But he doesn't have a fixed fee. 

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: I was just about to ask about YOUR new fees, but why would that matter?

Quimby: That means he's selling numbers?

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: How is that any different from your prices on premium numbers? Don't you charge more for harder-to-get numbers?

Quimby: Yeah, but I decide what 'dey pay. You can charge more, you just can't just get paid more.  If Loren let's his customer decide what to pay, 'dat's a violation? 

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: Huh? What kind of twisted logic is that? His "self pricing" system allows the customers to decide what his services are worth rather than imposing a price on them. How does that create a violation?

Quimby: Somebody gets left out. Somebody gets left out, so 'dat's a violation?

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: But the number can only go to one person. Somebody's always left out.

Quimby: Don't get all confus'en on me. I say he's a stoolie and a vanity number broker. What I stand for is quality, integrity, and honesty. You got me? Quality. Integrity. Honesty. Just read my website. It says so right there!

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: Okay. Okay. Speaking of "integrity," your promised you were, "not gouging or raising our prices for 855 numbers like everyone else just because there’s a higher demand for new 855 numbers," isn't that true?

Quimby: Well, yeah. What of? 

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: And you said, "I run my business very differently. I don’t think it’s EVER appropriate to gouge customers even if the demand is so high that they think they can get away with it"[emphasis added].

Quimby: Yeah. That's me. Always looking out for the little guy.

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: Then, speaking of "honesty," you went on to say, "I prefer to charge an HONEST price even if the demand goes up and everyone else thinks its smarter to gouge! That’s why I say this is a Gouge Free Zone"[emphasis added].

Quimby: Yeah. It's 'DOSE sharks out 'dar doing 'da gouging. It's 'dose sharks out 'dar! Ha! Wasn't 'dat nail in the head a nice touch?

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: Finally, this quote is a bit long, but it seems to really capture the essence of who you are. Speaking of one of those other "sharks,"you said, "They are making excuses that they offer a “PREMIUM” service. OK, right. ...GOUGING by definition is charging more because of excessive or increased demand... If you think you’re going to get 10 times as much chance to get the number just because you pay 10 times as much, look up the definition of GULLIBLE while you’re at it. The difference is whether you put the customer first or your profit first."

Quimby: Yep. That's what I stand for. 'Dat's why I say, 'dis is 'da ONLY "Gouge Free Zone!"

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: Joey, just last night you sent out an email offering a "Premium" upgrade for 10 TIMES your "honest" price. Sound familiar?

Quimby: Hey, 'dats no gouging! It's only 9 TIMES the usual price!

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: Then, anyone who doesn't PAY UP gets shut out of the first day's reservations.... After accusing everyone else of "gouging" exactly like this, aren't you the one putting "your profit first?

Quimby: Profits? Sure we make profits, but I put "customers first." "Dat's why they buy a "Premium Upgarde." To be first on 'da list.

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: But they were already first on your list.

Quimby: Oh, 'dat was the old list. Now we have 'dis special "Premium" list, just for day one.

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: So then, like you just ranted, "somebody's left out."

Quimby: LEFT OUT! LEFT OUT! Nobodies left out!

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: And you're charging them 10 times more  -- excuse me --  9 times more, or $450 to be on your "Premium" list.

Quimby: ..Those dopes pay'n just $49 are pushed to day two and beyond. That's all!...

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: So, dozens of small business write the FCC to help YOU get this 100-per-day cap, and now you reward them with a $450 premium -- or they're off the list?

Quimby: Ce la vie. Who said toll free was, "free!"

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: So, just which part of this zone of yours, here, is "gouge free?"

Quimby: Hey, I'm a family man. Everyone's gotta eat.

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: And after you lapped up those $450 orders, you repeated this nonsense about never jacking your price because of demand..

Quimby: Why dwell on reality?

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: ...And doubled your price?

Quimby: Are we still talking ‘bout lifestyle? Can we move on to some'em new?

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: Okay, okay. They say you’re the Glenn Beck of toll free. How’s that sit with you?

Quimby: Who ‘dat?

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: A cynical outsider with a big mouth and grand illusions of himself.

Quimby: I’m flattered, but just ‘cause he’s got my big mouth and grand illusions, doesn’t mean he measures up to MY standards.  He’s got 'ta be famous too..

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: Oh, he's Infamous.

Quimby: ...And has to be a great American like me!

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: Well, I suppose; along the lines of Benedict Arnold and Joseph McCarthy.

Quimby: But does ‘dis Beck understants ‘da Constitution like I understand 'da toll frees?

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: If a sixth-grade understanding makes expertise, you guys nailed it!

Quimby: To be like me, he would have to ‘da TOP authoriety, smart’r ‘dan anyone else-- even smart'r 'den President Baracko, or whatever his name is. 

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: You can be sure he thinks he is!

Quimby:  And he'd be leader of 'da free world like me; ‘da leader of 'da toll free world!

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: A legend in own mind, absolutely!



Quimby: Does he know about 'dose sharks out 'dar? 

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: You two are twins, when it comes to shark alerts!

Quimby: Yeah, but great leader like me has to be sensitive to 'da issues.

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: If you consider soft, emotionally fragile, with spooky mood swings to be "sensitive," he's your guy!

Quimby: Does he look out fir 'da little people, like I do?

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: Does he? Beck tried to claim the memory of Dr Martin Luyher King, although he’s secretly black...

Quimby: Hey, I’m secretly shark!

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: ...And held the single biggest whine festival of all time.

Quimby: I love 'da wine too!

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: Yes, Joey. We know.

Quimby: But he gots to have followers!

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: He’s got minions.

Quimby: Ah... Well ‘den, a famous and great American leader wit’ millions of followers, that’d be me! Joey ‘da Beck.

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: Ah, you've already got a nickname that sticks, and we really appreciate the endless comedy you provide.

Quimby: I always liked ‘da funny guys best!

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: So, can we could get back to these  "premium" upgrades. It looks like this 855 code opening raised a little cash for you... Ah, I mean for your daughter, of course.

Quimby: That's nothing.. 'Da REAL MONEY is in those little reservations will make after day one [Joey's now licking his chops, eyes wide]; When 'dose dopes pay 'dar, "success fees!" We got 'dens of thousands of requests!

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: But, Joey.... Why would anybody wait for you to make reservations on day two, three, or beyond?

Quimby: Did you look up 'dat word: GULLIBLE?

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: I did, but surely you know there are 45,000 reservations available on each day. Why wouldn't they just call one of the 400+ RespOrgs without automation...

Quimby: HOLY SHIT! [Interrupting]

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: ....and just place an phone order for FREE?

Quimby: ...I didn't 'tink of 'DAT!!!.... Shit! Shit! Holy Shit! Vinney, you idiot! Didn't you 'tink about 'dose dopes DEFECT'EN 'cause of 'dat STUPID 100-a-day limit of yours! Vinney!!

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: I thought the 100-a-day limit was your idea?

Quimby: Oh... Well, yeah,... 'Ahhhhh.... Dat's right! I'm the recognized leader of the toll free world, but it's VINNY'S who's tak'en 'da fall for 'dis one! You know my motto:

  Somebody else, is always to blame.

  Smear on to others, and then claim the fame.

[Joey, suddenly whirling in his chair] Oooohhhhh, mmmmyyyyy GOD! WHAT HAVE WE DONE!.. Vinney!!! Day one, we're finished! Vinney!!

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: Maybe you could charge for a SUPER Premium upgrade for being in the first 10? It's not like you have any credibility at stake.

Quimby: All 'da frig'en MONEY we could'a made! Vinney!! Oh, Katie. We've done ourselves in!

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: You were correct when you said you really, “don’t understand" and "Some phone companies just do get it." Say, I think Vinny's back.

Quimby: He's back? Geet? Say, you know we can help you get a number like, 855-TF-Journal! We can really, really help with ‘dat. How about $4,500 to to put 'ya in the top 10 on our premium list?

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: How about those "tens of thousands" of customers you claim to have? Shouldn't you try to get THEIR numbers first?

Quimby: "'Dey can pay up, or fend for 'demselves. I told 'dem back in July, "that [they] should contact [their] local phone company too."

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: What happened to, "Quality. Integrity. Honesty?"

Quimby: I told 'em. Honestly.

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: But, you boasted about $49 being your, "honest price, even if demand goes up," and now your jacking up prices, just as "demand goes up."

Quimby: Demand didn't go up. Supply went down; just 100 per day, so I don't see how "DAT has anything to do with demand. 'Dar two different 'Tings.

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: Basic economics.

Quimby: You got 'dis mixed up, Katie. Supply went down, but who's demanding?.. Well, I'm demanding more cash 'cause I got less to sell, but nobody else is demanding not'en.

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: So much for that "Gouge Free Zone" of yours. Doesn't this $450 premium upgrade  --  $45,000 the first day --  call your integrity into question? 

Quimby: Integrity? Integrity! Who needs a 'DAT when you've got 'da Googler? We're number 1!

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: Ahhhh... maybe I’ll just place that order myself, but thanks for the offer.

Quimby: But, ‘dey’re not reaaaaady! "Dey're not ready! Okay, okay. Katie. How about 'dis: $450 to be in the FIRST 100! We really, really want to hel... [whirling again] Oooooh, my God. What of we done! Vinney!! Vinney!! All 'dos dopes are all gonna defect after 'da first day!

TOLL FREE JOURNAL: I know, Joey, but let's just go eat.... [looking at Joey, now sobbing] Oh dear. Let me wipe those tears.
Quimby: Thanks, Katie. This could'a been big. Really big. Exposed!

Early last week, the self-proclaimed, "leaders of the toll free industry," made a bold and fearless announcement.

"The Pre-Release Request process begins on Tuesday July 6th at 3:00pm EST at Customers will be able to request any 855 Numbers from the phone company of their choice."

Not only that, they're going to, "instantly verify, free of charge, that no one else has requested this 855 number with your phone company." [Update-- This obvious fabrication and the slot machine itself has been removed from their live site, but is available here]

If only this were true!

Mind you, they didn't say "Our" Pre-Release process; they said "The" Pre-Release process, as though this was an industry collaboration -- or at least a collaboration among the listed phone companies. And they said they would "verify" with "your phone company," not just check that the requested the number was unclaimed in the slot machine's database.

They further declared that, "We’re expecting to process tens of thousands of requests at the insanely low price of just $8.55." Well, they just may be right about this claim.

A few hours into the opening, their request indicator read 71 "players" and over 8,500 requests. At $8.55 a request, this one-armed bandit may have already made off with over $65,000! Since that first night, though, the request count has been taken down. [Update-- A true and correct screen shot of the on the morning after the launch follows. At the time, they reported 18,345 requests, but then deactivated the counter. That would infer $156,849.75 in sales].


Trouble is, the "recognized leaders of the toll free industry," have no more of an inside track to get requests into the listed phone companies than you do. We suspected as much, and were able to confirm that several of the phone companies listed had no idea they were even listed on this site, and certainly had not given authority to take 855 number requests on their behalf. Within days, though, further research into these associations became moot.

In a July 8th post at, "The World of Phones is Changing," they confessed that they had assembled the list of phone companies  -- not by actually establishing working agreements with these 85 phone companies -- but by looking at transfer logs. Yet, as of July 15th, they continue to state that 855 Numbers is "your clearing house for 855 requests," here to "maximize your chances of getting the number you want when it becomes available."

Yeah, right.

Let's put aside the obviously false inducements, imaginary associations to actual phone companies, and fictitious verifications in real-time -- as well as the utterly speculative assertion that 855 numbers "will" be rationed -- and just assume 855 Numbers com is merely going to "help" get your requests into each of these 85 phone companies. They use the word "help" twenty-two times. They really, really want to help!

Should you buy a "chance" on the 855 slot machine? Like any other form of "gambling," you have to look at the pay tables. You put $8.55 in, but what’s your expected return?

Let's look at just three major issues that affect to odds of 855 Numbers actually submitting a "competitive" request for you, which I'll define as a request for a very desirable 855 number; one that will surely be requested by others.


  • Many companies will not compete-- Of the 85 companies listed, there's no way of knowing that any of these companies will actually be involved in the land rush for 855 numbers. Most won't, from our experience. In the companion ebook, page 4, our purported "leaders" states, "We recently contacted the resporg administrators of most of the major carriers and none of the major carriers have anything significant in place yet for 855 numbers yet [sic], or even know what they're going to do.Even those phone companies that "gear up" for the release may not be effective. After all, this is not something they have done for years, as we have. So, what are the odds? Let's call it a 1 out of 5 chance that any one of these phone companies will compete, i.e. 17 of the 85 companies will technically gear up for the land rush; not just manually enter orders after the noon opening.


  • Phone companies take care of their major accounts first-- If history teaches us, toll free 888 replication requests in 1996 were only taken seriously by the major account representatives within AT&T, when the FCC mandated these requests be taken on short notice. The little players were largely ignored, including 1-800-Blossom who, with our help, successfully filed suit to stop the launch of 888 and reopen the request window. You can bet that virtually all carriers will place the 855 number orders from their own major accounts ahead of anyone else. Let's call this a 1 in 3 chance that the little guy actually gets in on a competitive request.


  • Phone companies will not allow a 3rd party to place orders: If you enjoy any account privacy at all, which you do-- it's the law -- you can be sure "your phone company" will only take orders from you, not some 3rd party with a spreadsheet. Let's call this a 1 in 2 chance, although I think we all know from experience this is really a 1 in 10! It stands to reason that you'll be placing your own 855 number orders with your phone company. For each $8.55 invested is seems that they've only actually promised to do is, "let you know about their specific request processes as well as when they become available.


So just looking at these three major factors, the odds of randomly getting a competitive request from 855 Number Slot Machine with any of the 85 listed phone companies -- because all three factors have to go well -- are  (1/5) AND (1/3) AND (1/2), or something like 3.3%.

Yet, the good news is that the major players like AT&T, Verizon, and others will be involved in the land rush -- their major accounts will demand this -- so you can safely assume they will have a process in place. Therefore, your odds of getting a competitive request with one of the large carriers are more like (1/3) AND (1/2) or 16.67% -- you just have to somehow get ahead of their major accounts. The bad news, though, is that you're going to have to call them yourself to make this happen.

Oh, and did I remind you? A request is not a reservation. These requests only "pay off" if your phone company actually gets the numbers you want, so the odds of getting an actual reservation are far less! 

I don’t know if this 855 number slot machine qualifies as "gambling," but I find it inconceivable that any reputable carrier would involve themselves in such a scheme ahead of their own customers. Couldn't they just create their own list and cut out 855 Numbers? Yet, you've got 85 unsuspecting carriers to choose from... Cute huh? 85 carriers for 855 numbers at $8.55 each!

Then, there's the issue of incentives. What sort of special effort will our purported "leaders" put forth on your "competitive" request when it’s just one of, "tens of thousands" -- all pre-paid with no reward for results?

So, what are you actually buying when you take a "chance" on the 855 slot machine? Dreams? You can dream about landing 855-Flowers or 855-Lawyers for $8.55 -- and I’m sure they’ll get something for somebody -- but are these low odds worth the investment? Do you really need to pay $8.55 per number, per company to learn about a process your phone companies will announce anyway?

In their final confession last night on LinkedIN our "leaders" now say of 855 Numbers, "It's a service to collect and bring the reservations to their carrier... We're just helping the regular phone companies and their resporgs by facilitating the communication. It's a win win." We know they're doing great, but who's this other "winner?"

By all appearances, this one-armed bandit does exactly what every slot machine is designed to do; make money! No worries, though. If you can't seem to quit playing the 855 slot machine, just dial 1-800-Gambling. 

The site's owner and purported, "leader of the toll free industry," Mr. Bill Quimby, says, "I do sleep soundly and feel good about my business model and that I’m helping not only my customers but the industry as a whole, much more than any of the vanity number brokers and sharks ever could."

Our "leader?" Hardly, but no one can deny he's fearless.


Update--  After their tactics were exposed late last week, on July 15, 2010, the crew of stayed up late Wednesday night to dismantle the slot machine, remove some of most egregious language, defend their position, and, of course, to lavishly trash Loren for "whining" and having "questioned what we're doing." Yet, there's been no change in business model, so it' just Lipstick on this 855 pig.



Vanity International is a San Diego-based consultancy that specializes in toll free and Internet domain branding and acquisition for almost 20 years. Vanity International is taking requests for 855 numbers, but for FREE; with payment made upon success!