Thursday, September 13, 2012

Things I Love (?) Thursday - Magic Jack Plus

Normally I would be posting about things I love.

Today is not one of those days.

My mom and dad purchased a Magic Jack about 2 years ago and sang its praises. They had the kind that plugs into your computer, so the only problem they had was when the computer got shut down or the power went off, then they'd need to start the MJ back up. But other than that, they loved it. I took their advice and I purchased a Magic Jack Plus in January. The MJPlus doesn't require a computer - you just need high speed internet and a router and plug the device into that. For the most part, I've loved it. I paid $70 for the device from Walmart, which included my first year's subscription ($20). The instructions were easy to follow and I had a home phone set up via my internet router in a matter of minutes. Easy peasy lemon squeezy!

I also decided to purchase the additional extended warranty. For just $1, my warranty was extended to a full year. I'm glad I did, because the AC adapter for the device crapped out and I had to get a new one. Thankfully they are sending me a new one at no charge.

Since January, I've been calling numbers all around Wisconsin and the United States with no problems. I loved the voice mail, I loved that it was free. I thought this was an amazing money-saver. Then, suddenly, last week I could no longer make calls within the area of my local phone carrier. So, calls to my husband's work and to Sally's preschool would not go through. I was given the option of purchasing a prepaid calling card to make these calls. That didn't make sense to me, since I'd always been able to make the calls before. Never had a problem until last week.

I googled it. That's my answer for everything.

I found some very technical info about "carrier termination charges" and "IPEC carriers" etc. I called my internet provider and asked them about it. They were well-versed with Magic Jack and said they'd made no changes, made no restrictions to calls, made no termination agreement changes or restrictions or anything like that.

So I got on with Magic Jack customer service. In case you care, here's the conversation:

You are now chatting with 'Jenna'
Jenna: Hello, how may I help you?
Gretchen: Hi 'Jenna'
Gretchen: Hi. I'm having trouble placing calls to numbers within a certain carrier's territory.
Gretchen: My MJ is working fine. I can make calls to most places.
Gretchen: But to certain prefixes, it won't work.
Gretchen: And it has worked in the past 100% of the time.
Gretchen: I am wondering what the recent change has been so that I cannot make outgoing calls to these nubmers anymore.
Jenna: May I have at least three sample numbers you can't make calls with their phone provider, please?
Gretchen: The carrier is XXXX Telephone Co-Op in XXX and XXX counties, in Wisconsin.
Gretchen: phone number #1
Gretchen: Phone number #2
Gretchen: Phone number #3
Jenna:  Thank you for the information.
Jenna: May I know if you can hear a recording message when calling those number?
Gretchen: If you want to make a conference call, please call magic jack dot com
Jenna: I see. Thank you for the information.
Jenna: We may require prepaid purchase and/or we may charge you for calls to conference lines, platforms and certain non-ILEC area calls, or any call wherein we incur a cost from another carrier. We may provide for a fee, premium prepaid services, which may be powered by YMAX Communications Corp. (YMAX), and may include some inbound, international, conference, platform and outbound calls that receive a recording and certain calls to non-ILEC areas, and the rates for those services will be governed by listed price lists or tariffs. Charges may apply to use the call forwarding feature.
Jenna: Please refer to our "Terms of Service" section 4. What Is Free and What is Not:.
Gretchen: okay, well, that doesn't make sense. (I've already read the TOS #4) I have been calling these numbers for 9 months, the inability to make calls only started last week.
Gretchen: I was just on my cell phone with my internet carrier, XXXX phone co-op, and they said they have NO restrictions on the termination agreement.
Jenna: I understand. There are some changes that has been made by the provider, Gretchen that cause you to purchase prepaid minutes inorder to make a successful call to some inbound, international, conference, platform and outbound calls that receive a recording and certain calls to non-ILEC areas, and the rates for those services will be governed by listed price lists or tariffs. Charges may apply to use the call forwarding feature.
Gretchen: Jenna, are you saying that changes have been made by my internet provider? Or by Magic Jack?
Gretchen: My provider told me they have made NO changes. I specifically asked them this question and they verified they have not made any changes.
Jenna: I understand you, Gretchen. There are changes made by the phone provider you are trying to call since all outbound calls that receive a recording and certain calls to non-ILEC areas, and the rates for those services will be governed by listed price lists or tariffs.
Jenna: ILEC - refer to Independent Local Exchange Carrier
Gretchen: I understand you Jenna. I specifically asked XXXX Telephone Co-Op if they have made any changes to their services. They said no. I asked them if they have any restrictions on the termination agreement for Magic Jack. They said, no, we have no restrictions on our agreement with Magic Jack.
Gretchen: Further, my Magic Jack has ALWAYS worked to these numbers. If the change just happened within the last week, I believe the telephone co-op would know if they made changes.
Gretchen: They only manage a small number of customers.
Gretchen: Magic Jack manages thousands all across the united states.
Gretchen: Is there a list of carriers with whom you have agreements? Or a list of carriers with whom you do NOT have agreements?
Gretchen: Is there some way I can check the name of my local carrier against a list of carriers who your company works with?
Jenna: I know what you feel, Gretchen however, it is a system generated that once there's any changes made you will automatically hear the recording message. magicJack give a workaround steps for this by giving your option to purchase prepaid minutes online in your account so that the calls will go through successfully.
Gretchen: Wow, this is really disappointing since I purposely chose to use Magic Jack when I knew I could call the numbers in my area.
Jenna: I understand you, Gretchen.
Gretchen: Now that I know it is no longer an option (without purchasing an additional prepaid card) I am likely going to switch to Vonage or my local carrier.
Gretchen: And I am in the process of writing up a blog post about it.
Gretchen: Oh well. I guess Magic Jack was too good to be true.
Jenna: I understand your decision, Gretchen.

So, I guess in the long run, it's no big deal. I can use my cell phone to call those numbers (except when I'm out and there's a babysitter at home. I guess I better hope SHE has a cell phone of her own). Or, I could buy a prepaid phone card for the few times I need to make a call to those numbers from my Magic Jack, just trying to remember to use my cell phone whenever possible for those particular numbers. After all, $20 per year is less than $2 per month. If I had phone service with anyone else, I'd pay tons more.

The lesson here: Sometimes you get what you pay for. Sometimes you get more. And sometimes you can't be greedy when you're already getting a pretty good deal.

Texan Mama


Jennifer said...

We never use our home phone, but we have to have it for the DSL and the satellite. It stinks.

Gigi said...

First, can I just say I love it when your blog pops up in my list? 'Cause I do.

Second, I didn't understand any of that which is why we have a standard land line, that we never use, but apparently need just to have internet service. No matter how you go, it seems you get screwed.

Jennifer said...

How did you reproduce that conversation? Because I didn't understand it one bit! We bought Magicjack plus before we left the States. So far, we have only used it to call our families and our bank. No problems yet- knock on wood.

Vickie Hill said...

I'm in ky and I can call parts of ky but I can not call my local 3 counties but I can call any other state in the us wit no prob

Idaho Bear said...

I'm in Idaho, and I have liked Magic Jack for the last three years, and recommended to many of my friends. The same thing happened to me today. They (Magic Jack) said I was making an non-ilec call, and it was like a collect call, but they really couldn't tell me what a non-ilec call really was (it was a local call to my newspaper) they also couldn't tell me how much it would cost, but I had to deposit money in my account to place the call to tell my paper publisher I didn't get my daily newspaper....kind of cuts the value of Magic Jack? Not so much of a good deal any more.