I know many of you have or are considering a separate phone number for business. After one full year of use I am finally ready to admit I am a satisfied user of MagicJack. It has proven a great choice for my busy home office.
When I first told people I was considering MagicJack, many thought I was somehow being duped. That I would be subject to massive overages, additional hidden costs and terrible call quality. None of that has come to pass.
Here’s my experience with MagicJack.
I have maintained a home office with independent phone number for over 12 years. I use this for both my graphic design business and my writing & acting endeavors. I had grown frustrated and angry that the monthly charges for my office phone had gone up nearly every month. From about $19.00 to upwards of $37.00 a month with no increase of billable use and no frills; I didn’t even have Caller ID. I was simply getting killed in phone fees for a service I did not use very much. I always used my cell phone for long distance and toll calls because I didn’t want any more fees on my traditional line.
I have always thought the phone is a tool for my convenience—not the caller’s. This is one reason I try to discourage clients and agents etc from calling my cell phone and my reason for maintaining a business landline.
MagicJack advertises service for $19.95 a year. That’s actually for the second year. The first year will cost you closer to $40.00. But this price includes the hardware unit and a full year of domestic local & long distance calling. The service is then renewable for $19.95 for 12 months. These terms certainly were more appealing to me than roughly $420.00 per year I was spending currently.
Magic Jack also gives you a free phone number. In order to “fire my phone company” I had to use this number. Problem was, I had a long established existing number that was known to many. I decided that I needed to keep my existing number. The MJ website said it would be introducing number porting (a telecomm service allowing you to keep an existing phone number) in a matter of weeks. So I ordered the unit and began my subscription in anticipation of that. But weeks soon became months. Several months.
The message boards were filled with people who felt they had been strung along for a year or more hoping for the number porting service. But eventually, number porting became available. I signed up right away (for an additional $10.00 fee). Since then, MagicJack has more than adequately replaced my office phone.
Call quality is quite good but not great. About the same or better than a cell phone but without the annoying ‘conversation lag’ that often leads to people talking over each other.
Here are some service features and highlights:
- Free phone number
- 911 service
- Call waiting
- Call forwarding
- Voice mail
- Call log/Contact list
- Caller ID
- Email notifications of new messages
- Conference calling
- Unlimited local & long distance calling to the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico & the US Virgin Islands
- Use virtually any existing phone or the computer software to make calls.
I love getting an email notification along with an attached audio WAV file of any message left with the voice mail.
Plus, if you travel outside the US, you can take MJ and a laptop with you and call the US (or Canada) for free. You can even use the system software to make calls, so you don’t have to bring a phone. This feature makes it a very popular item for travelers without an international cell phone or those with friends/relatives overseas.
To be clear, outbound international calling is an extra service fee with MJ (though at great rates). But if you take the unit with you while traveling, you can call back to the U.S. for free.
The downside? I think the major drawback for most is that the computer has to be on to make/receive a call. Otherwise, the incoming caller gets your voice mail. Personally, I like this. If my computer is off, it probably means I don’t have time to talk anyway. I will get an email notification and can call them back at my convenience.
MJ has never broken or failed to work for me. I have it set up on a new 2010 iMac using Snow Leopard (don’t know if it works with Lion). Very rarely the MJ unit fails to be recognized by the computer at start-up. But reconnecting the unit or restarting the computer has always fixed the issue.
In summary: everyone was wrong (as they so often are). They just didn’t have the information. This is a great service. I was a little upset I had to wait several months for number porting but now it works just as I wanted it to. The only additional cost I have incurred is the one-time $10 fee to port my existing number.
I now have a great low-cost, high-quality replacement for my office phone that is saving me over $400 a year.
BY THE NUMBERS
For those to whom numbers appeal most, here’s my review of MagicJack features from 1-5 (higher is better):
- Call Clarity: 4
- Ease of Set Up: 4
- Ease of Use: 5
- Number Porting: 5
- Reliability: 5
- Support: 4
- Other Features: 5
- Overall Value: 5
As of this writing, Amazon has the MagicJack device with one year of service for $35.33, that’s about a $5.00 savings from the MagicJack website.
I have also just seen that they now offer MagicJack Plus which does not need a computer to run. This is advertised at $69.95 initial cost and $29.95 for an additional year.