Would you like a free 1.5GB RAM VPS with 20GB of disk, an ipv4, and unmetered bandwidth in Germany? Well, in 2013 all you needed to do was dial a number and listen to ads. A lot of ads.
Back then, a company named VPS By Call launched a service where potential users were instructed to call a phone number and listen to ads. Each minute listening was worth 1.2 credits and you needed 5,000 credits to earn not just a cheap VPS but a free VPS.
That’s 5,000 per month.
If you do the math, you find that you’d need to sit on the phone for (5000 / 1.2 = 4166 minutes / 60 = ) 69.4 hours per month in order to qualify. That’s nearly 3 full days of listening. Or if you went at it for only 8 hours per day, that’d been 8.5 days per month of listening.
Of course, in theory you could dial and walk away, which is probably what nearly everybody instantly thought to do. While VPS By Call limited calls to 60 minutes (according to their FAQ), how hard would it be to just notice your phone was hung up and hit dial again? Suppose you did that when you went to bed and then may one other time during the day. Over 30 days, that’d add up to 60 hours, so you’d just need to hit dial a couple more times…maybe when you’re having dinner.
I have to think advertisers quickly realized this as well. Who did they think would sit on the phone hour after hour, paying the least attention to their ads? Exactly no one. The VPSByCall rep on LowEndTalk said “The ads are repeating and there are not that many yet, so you will listen to the same ads over and over. The advertisers are aware of this and thus pay verrry little. This is why users have to call for so long.”
Now a 1.5 GB VPS with unmetered (albeit 100mbps) VPS was not at all bad in 2013…but who would forfeit his sanity to listen to the same ads over and over for 69 hours a month?
The idea was quickly savaged on LowEndTalk and that thread makes for a funny read. Alas, VPSByCall soon folded and the last reference I can find to their operation is April 2014. But someone still owns the domain, so maybe one day…?