This is not a new concept but when I came across the PR Newswire coverage of 1-800-business.com and the matching 1-800-business vanity phone number asset sale, it struck me (again) that some vanity phone numbers can be liquid and have been bought and sold like domains. A couple months ago I was having a casual conversation with a gentleman (who is old enough to be my dad) over a couple beers. We got to talking about domains and he could understand the domain market better than almost any random person I’ve talked to because twenty years ago friends of his were buying up 1-800-keyword vanity phone numbers and selling them to companies in the US, and made good money doing it.
I did a little research and you can still ‘register’ and look up available vanity phone numbers at sites like CustomTollFree.com. Pricing is pretty steep for these lines, monthly fees for nationwide service is $180 for 1800 and 1866 vanity phone numbers. I haven’t looked at pricing from competitors so I’m sure there is some variance. Funny when you think about it, vanity phone numbers were the primitive domain names and people were investing in phone numbers. I don’t think there’s much of an aftermarket for the vanity phone numbers now but telephone companies do withold certain vanity numbers and sell them at ‘premium pricing’ like verisign has done with some .TV domains.
The part of the sales pitch on 1-800-business.com where the seller slams alternative vanity phone number prefixes like 1-866 , etc amused me because you get an idea of the the heirarchy of vanity phone numbers they want you to realize, with 1-800 of course being #1 and 1-866, 1-877 and 1-888 being knockoff and hard to remember replacements of the king 1-800. Sound familiar..?