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Why Answering Service Free Trials Are No Free Lunch
Peter DeHaan

By: Peter DeHaan on November 15th, 2019

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Why Answering Service Free Trials Are No Free Lunch

How Answering Services Work

Some answering services offer free trials to entice wary businesses to use their service. Their logic is that if you try it you will like it. They pretend their service is so good that they have nothing to risk.

In reality, if their service was that good they wouldn’t need to bribe you with a free trial.

An answering service is a labor-intensive business. It costs them money to answer phone calls and take messages. Giving free service should raise suspicions.

Here are four questions to ponder whenever an answering service offers you a free trial:

#1 What’s Their Strategy?

Most people don’t like to change answering services. The answering services that offer free trials count on this. Once they start answering your phone, they know inertia will likely keep you there when the answering service trial period ends. It takes effort to change services and you just switched once, so they know you are unlikely to do it again – even if their service isn’t as good as they promised.

Their free trial is a sure thing, but that’s because of human nature, not because of great service.

#2 Don’t They Value Their Service?

It costs an answering service money to answer your phone. This is a direct expense (labor), not some innocuous effort of no consequence.

Whenever an answering service gives away their service for free, doesn’t that imply they don’t place much value in it? Certainly their staff is not working for free. An answering service isn’t a commodity, but offering a free trial treats it like one.

#3 What’s the Catch?

Some businesses offer loss leaders. They sell something below cost and compensate for the loss by selling you other products or services. The ultimate discount is free. They give you free service and plan to cover the cost through other charges.

How will they recover this lost cost? There are a couple of tricks. One is charging more for setup and programming, hopefully enough to more than offset your free trial. Another is to charge you more in your monthly base rate or usage fees once the trial is over.

#4 Is it Really Free?

They know that on average you will stay with them for a couple of years. This will give them time to earn back what they spent during your free trial period. They may even come out ahead. 


While some professional answering services may legitimately offer a truly free trial, it always calls for careful scrutiny. The best course is to avoid telephone answering services that employ this tactic.

Instead select a professional answering service that values their work and doesn’t devalue it (or you) by giving it away for free.

How to select an Answering Service

About Peter DeHaan