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Does your answering service overbill you for short calls?

Depending on how your answering service charges for short calls, you could get stuck paying extra for wrong numbers and hang-ups.

Image of a businessperson frustrated by being charged to much by their answering service for short calls

If you pay for your answering service on a per-call basis, there is a good chance you are over billed for shorter duration calls. This is because you pay the same rate for a call no matter how long it is. That means you are getting charged way too much for wrong numbers, hang-ups, and calls that get disconnected quickly.

Every business experiences short calls on a regular basis. It just goes with having a phone number. There’s not much you can do to avoid calls of this nature. Yes, you could put in an automated greeting or some kind of robo directory in place up front to weed out some of the short calls, but really all you’ll be accomplishing is irritating the people who actually want to talk to you – your customers. Those are not the people you want to upset, so you put up with the short, irrelevant calls here and there. And if you do, so does your answering service.

Normally, an answering service will handle multiple short-duration calls for a company during a given month. If the answering service charges by the call or unit, every time a short call is processed, you effectively overpay for those calls. Remember, you are billed a full unit for every call no matter if that call is a wrong number or even a caller hang-up. Calls like these usually last 6 to 10 seconds each. Some answering services tell you they don’t bill for wrong numbers and hang ups. Good luck auditing that bill!

Let’s take a look at how much you may be paying an answering service to handle those short calls:

To make things simple, we’ll assume that an answering service handles one short call for a client per day. Depending on your business it could easily be more or less.

If you use a pay-by-the-minute answering service that charges $1 per minute, then a 10 second short call costs you just  under 17 cents. At once a day, that comes out to about $5/month. Not bad at all.

If you use a pay-by-the-call answering service that charges $1 per call, then you are paying that full dollar each time a short call happens. One of those per day comes out to around $30/month. That’s excessive.

As you can see, it’s very easy to get overcharged for short calls when you use an answering service that bills by the call. With even just one short call per day, you end up paying an extra $25 every month when compared to an answering service that charges by the minute. That in itself is an unnecessary additional expenditure. If your business experiences short calls more frequently, then you do the math to see how much more you are having to pay.

Each  company has a unique situation, so make sure you take this information into consideration when shopping for the answering service that is right for you. Do your homework to find out how the answering services you are considering bill and how they really charge for short calls.

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About Brian Gabriel

As the Call Center Manager for Sound Telecom, Brian is responsible for overseeing the daily operations and long term success of the company while managing a variety of inbound customer support programs. He also has a hand in taking care of the Solaxis services division. Prior to joining Sound Telecom, Mr. Gabriel held management positions with several prominent Internet Services companies including and Brian started his career in advertising and sales before moving to Washington State. He joined AEI Music in 1995 and supervised their international customer service department and technical support call centers. Brian received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism with a minor in Spanish languages from San Diego State University. Brian teaches adult education at his church and actively supports Christian ministries.