A Toll free number is any number which when called, will not be charged for the caller. An interesting and not quite known fact here is that Toll free numbers are not ‘completely free’. It’s free for the caller of course, but the ‘called to’ party will be charged for the call length and has to pay the price. They will either be charged on a per call basis or on a monthly fixed rate basis.
Toll free numbers in India
Different countries have different initial numbers for a Toll free number. The most commonly found prefixes are ‘0800’ and ‘1800’. In India, a Toll free number only starts with ‘1800’. Numbers that look like a Toll free number but starting with 1860 or 1840, for example, are NOT Toll free.
Similar to most countries, Toll free numbers can only be access from Land phones as the origin of the call can be easily known. In India, Toll free numbers starting with 1800 will remain Toll free only if called from a BSNL or MTNL landline number.
Update: Calling a Toll free number starting with 1800 from an Airtel mobile will also remain Toll Free. This does not apply to any other mobile, except Airtel, as yet.