How to set up a second phone number for a home office, cheap, in Canada?
July 25, 2009 11:18 AM   Subscribe

How to set up a second phone number for a home office, cheap, in Canada?

I am in Canada. I work from home, and live here with my partner.

From time to time, when I give my phone number to clients, I wish I had something like a separate line. There are two issues I want to solve:

The main issue:

1) When clients call and leave a voicemail, they hear our “home” outgoing message. I’d rather they hear something more professional sounding. (But I don’t want to change our home OGM).

A secondary issue:

2) From time to time, clients call when my partner is on the phone, and I don’t get the message right away.

Getting a whole second line, with its own extra phone, seems like overkill, given the very low volume of calls I get, and given the multiplicity of options we already have for talking to people (one landline for the two of us, one cell phone each, and skype).

I wonder if there might be something not too expensive (Say – Maybe up to $5/month or so), that could do something like the following (though I’m open to variations):

- Give me a new local number I could give to clients that would be just for my business

- When clients phone that number and get voicemail, it would be a specific “business” outgoing message.

- When clients phone and I’m around, it rings, ideally on my regular phone.

- What would be awesome: When client phone and I miss the call (say, because my partner is on the other line), I get an email or other notification on my computer, so I can call the client back quickly.

Any ideas? Suggestions?
posted by ManInSuit to Technology (20 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Well, in BC, Telus offers a Smart Ring feature that does exactly what you want for the price that you want.

Your profile says you're in T.O. -- surely there must be a POTS provider in the centre of the universe that offers the same thing? Have you called Bell and asked?
posted by randomstriker at 11:48 AM on July 25, 2009

Response by poster: Hmm...

Can Smart Ring be set up so that people calling the business number get a different voice mailbox?

I'm using Primus for my phone service. They have a similar service, but I think that it only does the "distinctive ring" part - it won't actually send clients to a separate mailbox.

I think Bell has a similar service called ident-a-call, but I'm pretty sure it works like the Primus service.
posted by ManInSuit at 11:55 AM on July 25, 2009

I despise them, but Rogers offers a 2nd-line for $9.95 month, if you are already using them to provide your home service. I presume Bell offers something similar. If you don't mind your clients dialing a US number, you could get SkypeIN for $60/12 months.
posted by modernnomad at 11:57 AM on July 25, 2009

Another option, depending on how low the volume of calls you expect is, is to go with a prepaid cell phone like PetroCan mobility, which if you pay in $100 chunks will give you 440 mins of airtime that will not expire for 365 days.
posted by modernnomad at 12:01 PM on July 25, 2009

Response by poster: ModernNomad - On that 2nd line - Would I have to pay an additional fee for, say, voicemail? That starts to get out of my price range...

And - Yeah, I'd originaly thought SkypeIn might be my solution, until I saw it didn't provide Canadian numbers. Too bad...
posted by ManInSuit at 12:03 PM on July 25, 2009

I have a "distinctive ring" through AT&T (formerly BellSouth) - no separate voicemail, though. Also, I get a separate charge for the additional number, and for the distinctive ringing, and for "forward to voicemail if no answer/busy" - it's kind of odd. I'm thinking about transferring my second number to a cell phone.
posted by amtho at 12:05 PM on July 25, 2009

Response by poster: I hadn't thought about using the prepaid cell as a 2nd line. I guess that might work for using it as a voicemail destination number, or a quick way to get in touch. It might get expensive in terms of minutes if I actually used it for call (I spend maybe 4-5hours a month on business calls - seems like that doesn't warrant its own line, but at prepaid cell phone rates, that could be $50/month or so...)
posted by ManInSuit at 12:12 PM on July 25, 2009

With Bell in Ontario we have a 2nd line for $2.99. Add a cheap phone/answering machine combo and it'll probably work out to $5/month in a year or so.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 12:19 PM on July 25, 2009

Response by poster: apias - Ha! I had forgotten that there are answering machines. That might be a cheap way to do it, then. I don't know if Primus can provide a 2nd line as cheaply as bell, but that seems worth looking into.
posted by ManInSuit at 12:20 PM on July 25, 2009

Response by poster: (and - was the $2.99 for a 2nd line some sort of special offer? I'm seeing $9.95 + installation. Not unaffordable, but not $2.99 either...)
posted by ManInSuit at 12:23 PM on July 25, 2009

If you're getting internet service through the cable company, most of them offer some sort of phone service now that you could probably bundle in with your TV / internet service.
posted by jjb at 1:14 PM on July 25, 2009

Response by poster: jjb - I get my 'net through rogers - they sell a home phone service, but it looks like it's over $25/month...
posted by ManInSuit at 1:18 PM on July 25, 2009

$2.99 could be a special deal. We've been Bell customers forever. We also know a few people who work at Bell so maybe they did something on their end. But Bell and Rogers seem to be in the midst of a price war of sorts so you may want to call one of them up and see if they can provide you with a line for less than what they're advertising.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 1:36 PM on July 25, 2009

I believe the $9.95 I quoted for Rogers 2nd-line includes whatever 'services' (voice mail, call display etc) that you are already paying for on the main line.
posted by modernnomad at 1:51 PM on July 25, 2009

I believe the $9.95 I quoted for Rogers 2nd-line includes whatever 'services' (voice mail, call display etc) that you are already paying for on the main line.

Sorry to correct, but it doesn't (unfortunately). Second line is a base of $9.95 with $4.00/feature after that.
posted by DrJohnEvans at 2:18 PM on July 25, 2009

Response by poster: (Someone emailed me to recommend . Not sure how that works...)
posted by ManInSuit at 10:00 AM on July 27, 2009

Response by poster: (or jetnumbers?)
posted by ManInSuit at 10:03 AM on July 27, 2009

Why not just use a VOIP service, like Skype? It costs me $60 / year for unlimited North American calling and a local phone number. Plus, you can easily forward it to another phone number. It has voicemail and great international rates.
posted by reddot at 3:03 PM on August 3, 2009

Response by poster: reddot - Skype would work for me if I were in the US. In Canada, they can't provide me with a local number...
posted by ManInSuit at 9:16 PM on August 24, 2009

Response by poster: (A few weeks later - I still haven't found a solution that works - a second line looks too expensive, and there don't seem to be other options that suit my needs. Ah well....)
posted by ManInSuit at 12:42 PM on August 25, 2009

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