Magic Jack

This is an Andy Rooney like rant about telephone service.

Well, we finally got a MagicJack and got it working. It helps to have a computer that works and has an active connection to the internet. After fooling with an improperly configured computer for a day we discovered that the installation, registration, and email verification process only takes a few minutes. The instructions ask you to allow a couple of hours.

We bought our MagicJack locally. Saved about 7 bucks shipping and handling. The local sales guy said we could change the telephone number. MagicJack says you can’t do that yet. Maybe later. Later is too late. Once I nuke my Vonage connection my old number will be history and I am not interested in paying someone to retrieve it. Moral, read the fine print, don’t listen to the sales guys, they are not going to tell you the downsides and most likely will embellish the upsides or create upsides that don’t exist.

We were fine with Vonage, sort of. We opted for the Vonage 15 dollar a month plan. A few months after that they bumped the fee up by three bucks. Last month the charge with taxes included was around 23 dollars. Not sure what they hope to gain by not including taxes in the service charge when they sell the service. Some would consider that a scam and false advertising. The only thing the consumer is going to care about is total cost. We all know it sounds better to claim the service only costs 15 dollars a month, but when you end up paying 23 instead of 15 dollars you might have made a decision not to participate before you found out that the 15 dollar fee was ficticious.

Oh well, no real harm done. All things considered we would rather pay $43 dollars for a YEAR of phone service including call waiting, caller ID, voice mail, unlimited local and domestic long distance service, than pay an initial 80 some bucks to get started and then 23 a month forever.

The basic charge for Vonage is currently 17 dollars with 3 of that going for Vonage greed. Lets see that is 3 dollars every month or 36 dollars a year because Vonage thinks they are worth that. But wait, that is not all, I also get to pay some do nothing tax collector 6 dollars a month for the priveledge of even having a telephone connection. Not sure why the goberment has the right to screw me out of money for a service they have nothing to do with. That is another 72 dollars a year I get to pay for taxes that will never do me any good. So, by dumping Vonage I get to save 108 dollars a year which I was being charged for just being here. That is not quite as good as what I saved by dumping ATT in favor of Vonage but it is another step in the right direction. Not just that, but I feel really good about not paying those taxes and letting Vonage know I don’t care for service charge increases. Who do they think they are, the cable company?

Another downside to Vonage that is neatly avoided by magicjack is the credit card number thing. I just don’t feel comfortable with some vendor having access to my credit card number to charge my account whenever they see fit. Yes, we can watch the charges and correct those which are unjustified, we can also use a debit card, but we have better things to do than babysit an account that is open to abuse. If they don’t have the account number they can’t charge to it and we don’t need to keep an eye on it. Keep it simple and you have more time to enjoy life instead of agonizing over some moron possibly charging you for things you don’t want or need.

As I recall that is the real reason we dumped the ATT land line. They were charging us for caller ID that we did not want. They removed the charge when we complained, but reapplied it the next month. I guess ATT has been around long enough to begin suffering from alzhiemers but I don’t have to suffer with them. We just could not get them to understand the concept that they were working for us, not the other way around. Thanks to Vonage we were able to fire ATT.

MagicJack is a one time cash transaction. Covers you for one year. Not sure what happens after that. Guess I will have to renew the service and it will most likely cost more than 20 bucks. Oh well, by then we will probably be looking at magicjack two, or magicjack three, or superjack one. MagicJack is too large a big deal moneymaker not to have others compete for the profits. Over time there will be more and more people looking for phone service of this kind. Especially if ATT keeps making their customers mad. Time will tell. Time also informs me that paying in advance for anything more than a year out is foolishness.

MagicJack advertized a purchase price of $39 for the jack and one year of phone service. That does not include shipping or tax. If you can find a local vendor and a way of getting there, it will cost you $43. The extra bucks are tax, sales tax. You will also be given the opportunity to buy into some sort of super service agreement to cover your magic jack for the next ten years. I believe that is another 5 dollar charge. Sucker bait. I would be very surprized if the magic jack was still around after one year without some sort of change. Then all that ten year service thingy gets you is someone telling you that your magic jack is obsolete, no longer supported because it has run out of magic. No thanks.

911 is a big deal, evidently. If you use non-landline phone services the 911 central office cannot be sure of your location. I can see that is a big deal if you can’t tell them where you are and still need help. I figure if you can’t talk to them you might not even be able to dial 911 in the first place. It is my belief that automatic location identification is more of a benefit to the 911 service than the caller. Allows the 911 folk to hire people who don’t speak english or even employ automated answering ‘services’. I sort of like the idea that people who I call don’t necessarily know where I live until I tell them. Keeps you from getting annoyed for no reason.

So now we are testing the magicjack. Not sure how good the test is going to be. No one has our new number. We don’t want to give it out until we are sure we want to keep the magicjack. Sort of like which came first, the chicken or the egg.

Our Vonage connection has started giving us problems. Nothing serious. Just some dropouts during a phone call. Evidently the dropouts were only noticed at our end. The party on the other end never noticed any problems. So far the magicjack has not introduced us to any dropouts and the audio quality is very good.

Perhaps at the end of this month we can do a final dropout to Vonage.

Have we learned anything? Lets see.
ATT land lines are undesireable
Vonage is better but not good enough
MagicJack seems to be the way to go.
Trust but verify and don’t believe sales hype.

Finally, If I have a non-telephone associated internet connection and email capability, why do I need a telephone service? Well, for $43 I have bought myself another year to find an answer to that question.

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One Comment on “Magic Jack”

  1. admin Says:

    There is one major disadvantage to the MagicJack. It requires an active internet connection, as well an active PC. If you turn either one of those devices off, you no longer have a telephone connection. You still have voice mail via email so you will not miss any calls but you will not be able to answer the phone when it rings because it can’t ring with the computer de-energized. Same goes for the internet modem.

    With Vonage you still have a telephone when you turn off the computer. In fact you don’t need to even have a computer to use Vonage.

    Now, the cheapest Vonage deal is running around $333 a year. That includes equipment and service for a year. MagicJack costs $43 a year.
    That is a difference of $290 which can buy lots of power and even some computer. Of course you probably already have a computer, use it but keep in mind you can set up a minimal XP PC for little money. Largest cost is the software.


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