Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Just What Is MajicJack?? Good Choice Or Bad Idea?

A new cheaper Internet telephone service launched mid 2007. Does it still have the potential to be a Vonage and Skype killer?

Some people love it .... some people hate it. There doesn't seem to be much opinion "in the middle".

Bottom line is the jury is still out....but stay tuned as it does look intriguing.

Just what is all the fuss about? Read on .....

The former CEO and founder of Tel-Save (Dan Borislow), which later became Talk America -- which as since been merged away -- was a pioneer in low-cost long-distance plans. He intends to do the same for Internet calling with something he calls the MagicJack, which plugs into a computer's USB port and can be used with any conventional phone.

The general premise for the big advantage of his system, other than price, is supposedly the ease of installation. Which Borislow says takes about 45 seconds. Word to the wise .... "your experience may vary".

These guys definitely are serious and did a lot of work upfront before release. They spent 2 years building a nationwide network of Internet gateways (including 31 session border controllers) AND spent the exhaustive and expensive time certifying themselves as a competitive local exchange carrier . But (and a BIG but) .... there continues to be a few glitches experienced by those brave souls currently using MagicJack.

Just peruse the comments at such places as DSLReports.com and you'll see the dichotomy of opinions. Issues with set-up, getting calls, call clarity, customer support, billing, and more are common. To be fair there are also folks who are absolutely in love with their MajicJack expereince. Again .... "your experience may vary".

If you have specific issues or want specific information .... it's best to go to the Unoffical MajicJack Forum to get what you need. You can use this link: Unofficial MajicJack Forum

The consumer side of MagicJack goes like this: Usersplug the USB end of the ‘jack’ into their Internet-connected computer, and then plug a phone into the other end of the device. The device then boots a softphone onto the screen you then can pick up the phone and start dialing. The MagicJack cost $39.99 for a jack with a memory chip (for the softphone), or $29.99 for one without memory (you can alternatively download the client and keep it on your PC). Yearly subscriptions thereafter will cost $19.99. You can also opt for a "5 year pre-paid deal" for $100.

The business side of MagicJack seems to come from the subscription plans as well as interconnect fees paid to MagicJack’s CLEC partner company (apparently called YMax Communications Corp.) whenever a MagicJack phone number is called. In my mind you'd have to sell a huge number of $20/year subscriptions to be financially viable. That would make me nervous as an investor or employee.

On the networking side, the MagicJack/YMax advantage is touted as coming from building a network that covers “80 percent of the U.S. population” with its gateways and SBCs. By connecting most of a call’s distance over the Internet between its own gear, MagicJack is purported to have far superior call quality to other VoIP providers (or even PSTN calls routed over IP) , who must traverse multiple equipment types and transports that can introduce latency and degrade calls. Sounds good in theory....but the proof is "in the pudding" as they say.

Additional features embedded into the product, like call forwarding, are still being developed/tweeked. So .... MajicJack is essentially a work in progress. Not completely mature yet.

Now there may "appear" to be a huge market for value-priced VoIP-based telephony .... but I'd be wary as a newbie just due to the apparent condition of the so called industry leaders Vonage and Skype as revenue-challenged right now. This isn't exactly a strong revenue environment at the moment ..... so anything is going to carry pretty high risk regardless of how well thought out and/or financed. I'd also be wary of the "5 year plan" offer being that MagicJack is still essentially just a start-up and has proven nothing yet.

The moral of the story here is to do your homework. It looks good. And some folks are very pleased. But .... there's enough unhappy users out there to make you stop and wonder. Make sure you know exactly what you're getting into .... and are prepared for any hiccups you may encounter. If you can weather the frustrations and issues you might face .... you may fall into the group who have a pleasant experience. If those issues and frustrations prove too much to handle .... you'll obviously become part of the MajicJack Haters Club. Which category you end up in .... is anybody's guess.

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27 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have had nothing but a hard time to install which never happened. They also billed me when it was to be a free 30 day trial and when I went to return they billed my account the balance. I think that this is a poor way of doing business and would never recommend this product to anyone. Lets see how fast my money comes back.

5:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My recent experience with MagicJack chat room trying to fix a problem. beware MagicJack!

Chat InformationPlease wait for a site operator to respond.

Chat InformationYou are now chatting with 'Amor'

Amor: Hello, how may I help you?

Charles Rogers: Static develops spontaneously on the majicjack line which does not resolve with majicfix or upgrade. This unit does not work satisfactorily

Amor: I do apologize for the inconvenience. Let me help you with this.

Amor: May I know when did this happen?

Charles Rogers: It began almost immediately when the unit was installed initially and has become more frequent with time.

Amor: I understand.

Amor: May I know If you are using a wireless internet connection?

Charles Rogers: i have wireless capability but this computer is hard wired with an ethernet cable and connects with the cable only

Amor: I see.

Amor: May I have your magicjack number please.

Charles Rogers: 571 825-8936

Amor: Thank you for that.

Amor: I will forward that number to our higher department to check on this.

Amor: But we will try to troubleshoot first your problem and gather information so that would be easy for us to determine and resolve the problem.

Amor: Would that be okay with you?

Charles Rogers: Offers such as this all too often result in a waste of time and are intended to obfuscate rather that really address the issue. If you are not intending to waste both of our times I will make a reasonable, but brief only, effort.

Amor: I understand Charles.

Amor: Have you tried using different telephone?

Charles Rogers: Yes

Amor: I see. May I know if you are using cordless telephone?

Charles Rogers: Both at times

Amor: Okay. Can you please try call using your headset and dial on your soft phone.

Charles Rogers: I don't use a headset. What do you mean by soft phone?

Amor: Soft phone is your black dial pad on your screen.

Charles Rogers: I don't use the soft phone feature. The static problem occurs immediately after accessing the dial tone.

Amor: Yes I understand. We just to to try this out so we can figure out the problem.

Amor: Can you just please try calling using a headset or speaker

Charles Rogers: Soft phone feature works satisfactorily at this time, but that is because there is no static on the line initially.

Amor: I see.

Amor: One moment please...

Charles Rogers: I used a cordless phone to make the call

Amor: Can you also try to use a corded one.

Charles Rogers: Yes, one momnent

Amor: Thank you so much for your cooperation

Charles Rogers: Corded phone works satisfactorily. We are in the wasting time mode. At the moment there is no static on the line when initial dial tone is accessed. This problem occurs ONLY when there is static on the line when initially accessing the dial tone. This problem is almost certainly NOT associated with the type of phone used.

Amor: Is there anything else I may help you with today?

Amor: Chalres, I suggest you please use always the corded phone for your magicjack.

Amor: Is there anything else I may help you with today?

Charles Rogers: Yes, refund the payment and I will return the majicjack. Your unit does not work reliably. Alternatively, I will have my credit card company deny the payment. They are very good at such when items are fraudulently purveyed.

Amor: Charles, If you will return the magicjack after we recieve that you will recieve the refund.

Amor: May I know are you still on the 30 day trial period?

Charles Rogers: Not a chance. I want some integrity in this system. I can unilaterally ask my credit card company to deny this charge and will do so if you are intent on making the problem mine rather than standing behind your product.

Amor: Charles we do refund only if you are still on the 30 day trial period.

Charles Rogers: So be it. You will find challenge on my credit card bill. I have copied this conversation and will post it on the Magicjack Haters blog.

Amor: Is there anything else I may help you with today?

Charles Rogers: It has been said that when one deals with people, one looks for three things. Energy, intelligence, and integrity. If one does not find the latter, the first two will kill you. Never a more prescient statement about MagicJack and your present activity has been said.

Amor: charles, May I know if you are still have problems with your magicjack?

Amor: I have not heard from you for a few moments. Do you wish to continue this chat session?

Charles Rogers: You are patronizing me and being basically dishonest.

Amor: What do you mean by that please be specific with the problem concerning about your magicjack?

Charles Rogers: You are not standing by your product. A previous chat session regarding this problem resulted in instruction to apply the upgrade.exe fix to the system. It worked to resolve the static that time but does not do so now or reliably when the static occurs. There appears to be a bug in the majicjack software that is not consistently resolved, and that is a problem created by Magicjack, NOT BY THE CLIENT!

Amor: Charles, when you use the corded is the static still occur?

Charles Rogers: You are in the wasting time mode once again........ I have ALREADY told you that the problem occurs with BOTH wired and cordless phones. At the moment it is not occurring. But if it continues as it has over the past few days, it will almost certainly occur in the very near future!

Amor: Okay.

Amor: Thats why I suggest you to please use your magicjack with your corded phone but if you will encounter again please run the upgrade for magicjack.

Amor: and when your done on that unplug your magicjack for 15 seconds and plug it back again.

Amor: Are you satisfy already my answer now Charles,?

Charles Rogers: Once again, as Einstein said, the definition of insanity is repeating an experiment and expecting a different result. I have done ALL the suggestions you have made including but not necessarily limited to unplugging the phone, magic jack, applying upgrade. exe , etc. NOTHING consistently works except REBOOTING the entire computer. It appears that the only consistent fix is associated with the startup of the magicjack software, which is a problem created by MagicJack software, not the user.

Amor: Is there anything else I may help you with today?

Charles Rogers: Obviously, you are unable either recognize the problem as one of MagicJack's creation or address a reasonable resolution to the problem. You will read this conversation on the MagicJack Hater's Blog.

Amor: Charles, I will transfer you to the higher department to complete your concern is that okay?

Charles Rogers: Sounds like a dodge and more time wasting. Just refund the charge and I will return the MagicJack. That stops the time wasting and solves the problem.

Amor: As I said you can not get refund anymore because the 30 day trial is over and that is the company policy.

Charles Rogers: And you do not understand either. I have a VERY GOOD relationship with my credit card company. They will almost certainly back my challenge to your charge and you will lose this situation because you are not being reliable.

Amor: I will trnasfer you now Charles,

Amor: Thank you.

Charles Rogers: You should know that this problem started long before the 30 day limit and now over the past few days has become so frequent that it is intolerable.

Chat InformationPlease wait while I transfer the chat to the best suited site operator.

Chat InformationYou are now chatting with 'Jeanille'

Jeanille: Hi Charles

Charles Rogers: Good day, it has not been one for this customer.

Charles Rogers: I need to get a piece of bread. This conversation has gone on so long, that hunger is taking over. Back in 30 seconds

Jeanille: Please give me a moment as I read your chat.

Jeanille: Ok.

Charles Rogers: No Problem

Jeanille: Please do run this link and let me know your upload - download result.

Jeanille: SPEED TEST

Charles Rogers: I will do so but I can tell you that this is a Verizon FIOS high speed connection only a year old and the computer is little more than a year old. It is highly unlikely that this problem is hardware or network associated.

Jeanille: Ok.

Charles Rogers: It appears that the speed test requires the installation of Adobe Flash 7 which requires the closure of all open windows. If I close those windows I will lose this chat. Why don't you just call me on the majicJack number 571 825-8936 and we can deal with the problem that way. I will be able to use the computer to perform the speed test , which is almost certainly a waste of time because of the criteria of the connection and network I have previously mentioned. Altenatively, you can call me on a land line at 703 790-9576 for completely independent contact.

Chat InformationThere may be a problem communicating with Jeanille. Please wait while your chat is transferred to another operator.

Chat InformationYou are now chatting with 'Jeanille'

Charles Rogers: Like much of this chat the to messages above are nonsensical. Is this just a runaround? Keep in mind that you appear to be digging a deeper and deeper hole for MagicJack sense all this chat is being copied and posted on MagicJack Hater's blog.

Jeanille: Charles, may I ask you if you did plug your magicJack to the extension cord came with it?

Charles Rogers: Never. That only introduces yet another variable into a system with too many variables as it is.

Jeanille: Ok. Thank you.

Jeanille: I will be forwarding your concern to the engineering department so they may be able to look into this matter.

Jeanille: Please do send me your complete name, email address and an alternate number.

Charles Rogers: Charles L. Rogers

Charles Rogers: ########

Charles Rogers: ########

Charles Rogers: ### ########

Charles Rogers: ### ########

Jeanille: Thank you Charles.

Jeanille: They will be sending you an email update within 24-48 hours from now. I did forward your concern to them and they are now looking into this matter.

Charles Rogers: Given that this chat has taken more than one hour and at least 20% of the data exchanged has been obtuse to the sense of the conversation, one can not be optomistic that a positive resolution will be achieved. I will challenge the charge and reinstate payment if and only if the problem is resolved in a way that exhibits integrity.

Jeanille: I assure you that this will be taken care Charles. Please do wait for the time I have asked you. Thank you for your patience. I do appreciate it.

Charles Rogers: Words are cheap. Integrity is not.

Jeanille: I do understand you Charles and my apologies for the inconvenience. Please do understand that I also want your issue to be resolved as soon as possible.

Charles Rogers: See you then. If I'm not dead.

9:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Easy to install and carefree to operate. I am a professional, federally licensed Master Telecommunications Engineer with 40 yrs. experience, this works and it's "sweet!" I'll keep on it as this is only my first day. But, Mr. Borislow, you've let the Jenie out of the bottle from what I've experienced so far! Keep it coming my friend.

RKO
Seattle, WA

3:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I purchased a majicjack phone system only yo firnd that there are no Canadain areea codes and now all my friends pay a long didtance to get me somewhere in the USA. I have checked with MajicJack once a week only to recieve a repsond that out engineers are working on it, I is now 3 mths and they will not refund me even though there are no local area codes...

i think this is a ripe off

11:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Guys Guys Guys... "Don't be a hater." 29 Years Computer and Network experience here - and it does not take a "Rocket Scientist" to hook this up!. I plugged my phone into the jack and the jack into the computer... software glitched, selected fix and download and update... and wallah Jeanie Came Out Of the bottle! This is awesome! Have cureently AT&TCallVantage for 3 years (self installed.) THIS DEVICE WILL SAVE ME $480.00 a year! I simply Love it!

12:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Clue: If you have Canadian friends ... either send them a MagicJack or hve them call ... leave a message and you call them back on your MagicJack.

It has Caller ID ... if you see "CANADA" ... don't answer ...then call the back.

6:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

why no linux or PPC mac support thats just crazy....

thats why I use skype it runs on EVERYTHING but OS9 macs....

if you are going to code for the mac then code PPC as well

they are just lazy..

I use fedora for my skype system its a

free phone and a
free os and a
old free computer...


until they fix this they will never beat skype .....

CEO Megavoltproductions

4:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am using MajicJack and my phones calls long distance or local is just fine

12:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, but it seems to me that Charles was just a typical belligerent customer who thinks big words show intelligence. If I were the Rep I would have told Charles to go jump off a bridge. He was just being combative and unreasonable and really not interested in getting the issue resolved. Now that I got THAT off my chest, I just ordered the product and I'm willing to bet that I will not have any negative issues with it since I understand electronics and computer/network systems, not just a newbie with an expanded vocabulary.

12:57 PM  
Anonymous GDI said...

It seems to me that the quality of your Internet broadband connection may have a lot to do with the quality of the calls you can make with MajicJack. From personal experience, I know cable high speed can be unreliable at times, expecially right after it rains.

10:03 AM  
Blogger charles said...

when ever i contacted majic jack online they helped me out to my sanctification they have aether improved customer service or we all have different experiences

9:16 PM  
Anonymous dbrantley said...

Accidently broke usb plug on majic jack. When tring to purchase a new device, I was told that I would lose the 6 months left on my contract and would have to start all over by paying $40 plus shipping. I had trouble with this product from the get go. Patch cord did not work and people I called said I sounded really far off and could not hear me. Majic jack-majic junk would mot resolve my prpblem. Yes, put me on the negative list with this co. dbrantley PS I got scr#@### WILL YOU

5:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i got majicjack in july 08,couldn't get it to install,did the chat with their reps and still no luck.After 3 days of trying i was about to return it when i took it over to a friend's house who had a brand new computer,it installed and hooked up right away no problems and it worked great,i put my computer in the shop i had a bad internet explorer( i had already known this) they fixed it and when i tried mj again it worked no problems and i have had nothing but a great experince since.just wish they had a local phone# for me,but i can call for free.

8:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a former ATT tech I will never be without a landline. The main reason is that when the power goes out nothing else will work. Land lines are powered by DC batteries in the Central office providing 48-52vdc. Even though I regularly use a cell phone, cell phones are still prone to quality issues.

2:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

They suck!!! I can't believe I even thought this would be any good. They must get a gov loan to trin new people for Tech support. They dont know what they are doing. I could never get registered to get connected. I am very upset. They wouldn't give me a refund b/c it was after thirty days but I was working with their tech support trying to get connected. I will tell everyone I know not to purchase this because this is a rip off. I hate to say this but we have been RIPPED OFF!!! I am going to report this toBBB. Also, if anyone know who we can contact to get these scums to give us our money back, Im ready. Pass this on to all your friends and relatives never to purchase this mess.

7:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is everyone on this comment list an idiot? It is SOOOOOO clear that Charles was talking to (1) a computer, or (2) someone for whom English is at best a second language who was "chatting" from a script. MagicJack: if you don't fix this, you don't have a chance, no matter what Clark Howard says.

1:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just purchased a MagicJack and it is working just fine, including the connection, clarity and particularly the long distance calls, which is why I decided to try the product in the first place. As a previous person commented, I would still recommend a land line as power in our area recently went out and I could NOT use the Majic Jack. This would be no different for those people who have both a land line and a cell phone. So far so good, great product. I'm am thinking of purchasing another M. Jack for my mother as she makes a lot of long distance phone calls.

10:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a Mac G3 with Mac OS X software installed but Magicjack doesn't work on it. Can some one help me? Please.....

1:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I bought one. Hooked it up in a couple minutes and called a number of places. It was fast, easy and clear. I had a friend call me, and it was just like using a landline. The only problem is, they don't have a local prefix for me yet. Just have to wait. Hopefully in the future they will. But for calling it's great.

4:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The way that this Charles fellow behaved, I beleive the MajicJack helpdesk was amazingly restrained. His attitude exhibited an intention to pick a fight rather than resolve a problem.

10:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have had mine for about a year now. While the connection speed and such are very important, my experience is that the computer is the driving force. If your computer is bogged down with programs or running multiple applications, it will effect the jack. Going in and cleaning out my start menu and making sure there aren't a bunch of applications running when making calls has turned my experiences with it around. Anyone with an older, slower computer, overloaded with open applications, lack of processer capacity or memory will have issues regardless of how fast your connection is.
As far as customer service goes, it was very frustrating for me to try to talk with the people from India who obviously have English as a second language. They were, it appeared to me, using scripts. Without having knowledge of the actual product, they were less than capable of "helping". Getting kicked up to the next level was somewhat better. The most help I was able to receive was working with the help desk through my internet service provider. Those people know computers and were invaluable.
Good luck to eveyone. If you can get it to work, it is a god send!

8:54 AM  
Anonymous Benjamin M. MItchell said...

Installed on an old P4 with 512 Ram and thus far have had no problems. Some sound issues, but they are rare and no worse then when a cell glitches (which is more often). Now, this pc ONLY runs the MajicJack and nothing else. I also tied this into my home phone wiring so any phone in the house could use it. No complaints thus far (4mo into it)

9:11 PM  
Anonymous Hank M. said...

Had it about six months. Worked ok most of the time. When it did not I unpluged it for a few min. pluged it back in and it worked,mmost of the time. Sometimes I had to restart the computer...... THEN I HAD THIS STORAGE PROBLEM TRIED THIER FIXES
NOTHING!!! NOW IT SAYES MUST CONNECT TO USB WELL I CHANGED USB PORTS,WITH/WITHOUT THIER EXTENSION CHANGED PHONES, COMPUTERS, OPERATING SYSTEMS SAME RESULT IT DOES NOT WORK.

6:58 PM  
Blogger Andrew said...

I HAD VONAGE AND WAS VERY SKEPTICAL ABOUT MAJICJACK AND READ A LOT OF REVIEWS PRIOR TO SIGNING UP. MY ADVICE IS IT IS A TOTAL SCAM!!! I EVEN PAID FOR A SECOND YEAR IN ADVANCE THINKING IT WOULD BE NICE TO NOT HAVE A PHONE BILL FOR 24 MONTHS. WELL I JUST CANCELED AND AM GLADLY GOING BACK TO VONAGE WHO WAS ALWAYS CONSISTENT. NEVER HAD A PROBLEM WITH VONAGE. WILL GLADLY PAY $17.99 PLUS TAX FOR 500 MINUTES/MO.! SCREW DIALING 10 DIGITS AS WELL! CUSTOMER SERVICE HAS TO BE DONE ONLINE. THERE IS NO NUMBER TO CALL. IF YOUR CHEAP AND YOU LIKE PROBLEMS AND INCONSISTENT SERVICE GO FOR IT. ABSOLUTELY NOT WORTH THE HEADACHE. YOU INDEED GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR!!

11:32 AM  
Blogger Andrew said...

IF YOU ARE EVEN CONTEMPLATING ORDERING A MAJICJACK PLEASE PLEASE BEWARE! I CAN'T BELIEVE BEST BUY OFFERS THIS! (I actually ordered it online). I wanted to add to my previous post. I agree with the person way above. Majicjack is a TOTAL RIP OFF SCAM! They totally ripped me off. All along I have been trying to get my service corrected for 4 months! I finally just got sick of rebooting CONSTANTLY, restarting the soft phone software, downloading supposed "updates" to the majicjack software. It's a constant headache trying to fix your phone when it should work out of the box. I'm going gladly back to Vonage! At least my phone will ALWAYS work! With Vonage I don't have to dial every number (10 digits at a time) with the area code even if it's local and I can actually call someone LIVE if I have an issue. And I can turn my PC off and it will still work!! It should not be such a hassle. Saving a few bucks is TOTALLY NOT WORTH THE HEADACHE! I have never posted a comment but I am livid about the fact that I shelled out $60 for 2 years for "service" to MajicJack and was not able to get a refund for just the last year I paid for and never used! Their "Customer Service" is a total joke! You have to be online and chat with some moron who I could not get to resolve my issues.
I HIGHLY RECOMMEND YOU DON'T WASTE YOUR TIME, MONEY AND SANITY ON THIS PRODUCT. GREAT CONCEPT BUT IT DOES NOT WORK CONSISTENTLY. WHY WOULD YOU NEED JUST A SEPARATE PC TO RUN YOUR FREAKING PHONE??? IT SHOULD WORK WITH YOUR PC WITH OR WITHOUT APPLICATIONS RUNNING, DUH! WHO HAS A PC AND ISN'T RUNNING APPLICATIONS ON IT? IF YOU DON'T BELIEVE MY POST, ORDER IT, PULL ALL YOUR HAIR OUT AFTER YOU START USING IT FOR A FEW WEEKS AND PLEASE COME BACK ON THIS POST AND LET'S HEAR YOUR COMMENTS! :)

8:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I went through the same problem with static. The lady went through the same steps with me and my problem was fixed. MagicJack works real good for me.

12:43 PM  
Blogger eddyq said...

I have had one for about 5 months. In the beginning it seemed to work really well but as time went on it was more of a nuisance than a convenience. It will sometimes not come up unless I unplug and re-plug it. Sometimes it will just not come up at all and I have to get with their support. But they often say “it is fixed” but when I re-boot it does not come up and when you get back you get a different person that takes you back through exactly the same steps before they try something new. Yesterday they got it going on one computer but today when I moved it to a different computer I get the same problem. So I guess I’ll spend another 2 hours with the next technician.

8:11 AM  

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