This edition we’re reviewing some cost saving phone and fax services
that are available for home and small business. These are all services
that we have tried and although they may not be for everyone, we were
generally satisfied with them and feel comfortable recommending them.

first service that we are reviewing is the toll-free phone number
company "TollFreeLive." They offer simple toll free numbers that can
redirect your customers to any phone number…even to a cell phone! We
were very impressed with their automated answering system that allows
you to provide extensions for different employees or departments in
your business. You can even assign a voice message to a number
selection and record a message that describes the basic features that
your business offers. All of your dialing structures can be set up
online, or you can pay a small fee when you create an account to have
TollFreeLive set it up for you. This is how it works: Someone calls
your toll free number and they get your automated attendant(or you can
record your own voice). They are presented with a menu like "For
customer service, dial 1…for technical support, press 2, to speak
with an attendant, press 0." Once they make a selection, they are asked
to speak their name. Then your phone will be called and you will hear
the name of the person calling and chose whether or not to accept the
call. If you can’t get to the phone, they will simply be redirected to
your TollFreeLive voicemail box. Their basic service includes 5 extent
ions and costs $9.99 a month, which includes 100 minutes of incoming
calls a month–additional minutes are 5.9 cents each. Of course they
also have larger plans with more included minutes and a lower price per
additional minute, if that’s what you need. They best part of this
company is they have a place where you can search for available toll
free numbers via their website so you can get the perfect memorable
number for your business.

is a company that allows you to set up a toll free fax number for your
business. Not only that, but you don’t need a second line in your
office, or even a fax machine! All incoming faxes are converted to an
image and emailed to you. What about outgoing faxes? Simple. You simply
send an email to a persons fax number with a file
attached and that file will be converted to a fax that will print on
any regular fax machine. The pricing starts at $1.95 a month. Yes, you
read that right. There is a $4.95 setup fee and you have to prepay at
least $20.00. You are then charged .15 cents per page that you get or
send out. Anytime your account falls below $5.00, your credit card is
charged another $20 to fill it back up. Of course there are larger
plans available that include free pages for a larger monthly fee and
they even have a broadcast fax service for solicitations, although we
haven’t used that service. We have found this to be a great service if
you don’t do a ton of outgoing faxing. We never had any problems
receiving faxes, but once we did have a problem getting a fax to send
to a particular fax machine correctly.

may have heard of these guys. The ones with the obnoxious TV
commercials with the tune that you can’t get out of your head? They
provide phone service through your high speed internet connection. So
if you have a cable modem or DSL, you can sign up with Vonage and get a
phone line that uses your internet connection, but allows you to send
and receive phone calls just like any other phone. In fact, in some
ways, it’s even better than regular phone service. For one thing, you
take your phone number with you. Where ever you plug in the Vonage
phone box into a high speed internet connection, your phone number will
ring to the phone plugged in there, so you could take your phone along
with you if you move offices or even go on vacation! Also, you can
choose the area code that you want for your phone. So if you do a lot
of business in Yeehaw Junction, FL (Yes, that’s a real place) you could
get an 863 area code so your customers would have a local call even
though your office is in Businessburg, OH (also a real place). Pricing
for Vonage starts at $14.99 a month for 500 minutes, which are good
anytime, anywhere in the US, Canada and Puerto Rico, or you can bump up
to unlimited calling for $24.99 a month. And remember, you don’t have
to pay for a phone line(unless you are using DSL for your high speed
internet). We found the sound quality to be pretty good–better than
most cell phones, but not quite as clear as a regular phone line.
Vonage does have an online setting to configure your sound quality, but
even at the highest quality there was a little bit of lag at times, but
it was definitely usable. You also can check voicemail online and get
email notifications of voicemail. Also, you can get your current phone
number transferred to Vonage, but we experienced problems getting our
number transferred in a timely fashion and we have heard that has been
a problem for other people as well, but that is probably not entirely
Vonage’s fault–local phone providers are typically not excited about
releasing your phone number to a competing company, so we got the
feeling that it wasn’t on their top priority list. We also found that
we had to pay an $80 cancellation fee later to stop the service–so
make sure you read the fine print!

there you have it. Three low cost phone solutions for your home or
business. Again, they may not be for everybody, but definitely worth
checking out.