Whistletree, sad to see you go

I am really at a loss as to what to do. I have been using this wonderful service called Whistletree to record the interviews for the book on online film distribution Simone Nelson and I are working on. Simone and I are often in different locations for the interviews, plus the interviewee, necessitating a three-way conference. I'm horrible at taking notes so the fact that the calls were automatically recorded made it even better.
We typically set the interviews for 30 minutes but they often go over that. It didn't matter where the conversations ended up, whether it was Adam Chapnick of Distribber talking about his daughter's birthday party or filmmaker Josh Raskin talking about his love of baths (long story), because all of this is FREE.

So imagine my sadness when I saw the note from Whistletree today saying it was discontinuing its service, PARTICULARLY when I have like 3 more interviews to schedule RIGHT NOW. Here's an excerpt of their email.
It is with a heavy heart that we announce Whistletree will be discontinuing our conferencing service. The last day that we will be able to provide conferencing is Monday, May 17, 2010.
As many of you are aware, free conferencing services, like ours and others, have become targets in the US for long distance carriers. This has resulted in an increase in connection issues. We addressed these issues by creating and offering a number of customized services. Unfortunately, the issues we are encountering have progressively become an uphill battle. We have been working until the final hour to find a way to continue offering our conferencing service; but sadly it is clear we have no other option, but to close.
Three questions came to my head after reading that:
0. 3 days notice? Couldn't we have got like a week?

1. Why didn't I think of using Whistletree just for calling long distance?
2. Waitaminute, who doesn't have a long distance plan on their cell phone?
Not sure what's going on here, but you can bet I am feverishly searching for an alternative. Any suggestions?
  • Malaika Mose

    Anthony, thank you for your thoughtful response. I think they had paid services and when I said, I don’t know what’s going on here I was referring to “As many of you are aware, free conferencing services, like ours and others, have become targets in the US for long distance carriers. This has resulted in an increase in connection issues. ” I am wondering how they were targeted.

  • Malaika Mose

    Adam, for sure it sounded like an awesome birthday party and I enjoyed hearing about it and I am glad that with the service I never had to rush, instead I could let the conversation go wherever it would. :-)

  • But it was a reeeeeally great birthday party! (Sorry I don’t have a suggestion for an alternative to whistletree).

  • As disclosure I would like to mention I represent Infinity Conference Call, a conferencing service provider but I will attempts to keep this comment informative rather than sales oriented. Free conference call services relied on a system of income that is not relevant in todays telecom and I’ll try to explain why.

    There is a cost for a conferencing service. There has to be a bridge somewhere and the maintenance and service of that bridge has a cost. The way a free conferencing service operates is with long distance charges.

    The practice involves having all callers dial into an area code that charges an exorbitant rate for long distance. Sometimes around 20 cents per minute or more for each caller. The host does not have to pay everyones call-in rate, as it is going to show up on the individual attendees long distance bill for their phone.

    In today’s telecom, as you mentioned, most don’t pay for their long distance service so these “free” conferencing services were actually free. However no business model can survive on that, as is now the case.

    There is often a question of quality as well in these services as some of them are known to drop calls or give busy signals when people are attempting to connect.

    My company offers reliable conferencing services, though we have to charge a price as we would like to stay in business. It is affordable though and reliable. For those looking, I’d be glad to discuss.

    Anthony Russo
    Conferencing Specialist
    Infinity Conference Call
    Skype: anth.russo
    Twitter: @AnthonyRusso