There are a lot of choices for Conference Calls in the marketplace. It seems like there are a huge number of choices, so we thought we would try to explain the pricing options available so that you can make an informed choice. If you are thinking about choosing a service company and you can't tell what the difference is in the pricing you will have a better idea after reading this.
There are really just a few different flavors of prices.
- Toll Free or Toll per minute billing
- Flat Rate Billing
- Monthly Subscription Plans
Toll Free or Toll per minute billing- The industry standard has always been the Toll Free or Toll per minute billing method. The price per minute is calculated using a standard formula in the industry to determine minutes. Since a call is like having several long distance calls all going at the same time, the calculation of minutes is on a per participant basis. That means that the price per minute you pay is multiplied by the number of participants on the call. And usually the minutes are calculated by the connection time of each participant. That way if a participant on the call is only on the call for 5 minutes and the call lasted 60 minutes, you will only pay for 5 minutes for that participant. So the formula goes like this, # of participants X # of minutes = total call minutes. So this pricing method simply takes the total number of minutes you did and multiplies it times the rate per minute you pay. This pricing method is good if you don't know how much you will use a service or if you only use the service infrequently.
A couple of things to be aware of with this method. First, the access method can be Toll or Toll Free. Although many service companies will put out an attractive rate for calls on the internet, many times it it is for a toll connection. The problem here is that a toll connection has hidden costs for the participants as they will need to dial a long distance number to connect to the call. The last thing you want if you are inviting guests to a meeting is to have them incur any costs. Second, if the service company rounds minutes on calls to a minimum such as 10 minutes per participant minimum on a call it can really add up and end up costing you a lot more.
Flat Rate Billing - This method of pricing is based on you paying one set price and then you can do as many calls as you want monthly. Typically this method has some restrictions that go along with it. You will usually only be able to have a small number of participants on the call and you may have to pay a separate monthly subscription for each user in your company. It is also usually for only toll access which again means that your participants will have to pay a long distance charge to get to your meeting. In the end, these types of services can end up costing you more than the per minute billing method depending on how you use the service. The economics for service companies are no different. We pay for long distance like everyone else, so no one is going to give it away. Conference pricing is based on our costs so if it is real inexpensive than you are probably not getting all of the services you are looking for.
Monthly Subscription Plans - This pricing method has become popular lately since you can obtain a pretty good discount if you use a service regularly and you know how many minutes you typically do a month. The pricing works just like your cell phone plan. You subscribe to a certain number of minutes per month and pay a monthly fee for those minutes. If you go over the minutes in the plan you will pay a charge for the minutes over the included minutes in the plan. Rates as low as 2.4 cents per minutes are available from Zip Conferencing if you subscribe to one of these plans. You do need to watch out for the small print in some of the offers in the marketplace for these plans. Some service companies will set participant minimums, restrict the number of participants and make you buy a plan for each moderator.
This should help explain some of the pricing options available.