MAGIC JACK UPDATE, JUNE 24, 2009:
This gadget is truly one of the most defect-riddled and fraudulently promoted electronic gadgets ever. Ignore the PC Magazine "Product of the Year" award, and the ads you see on television. As if the dropped calls, misdirected calls, horrid audio quality, credit-card overbillings, atrocious customer service, and lack of responsiveness to complaints were not enough, this device has caused friends calling me on my Magic Jack number to incur long distance calls as a result, even though they are calling locally!
A friend of mine who lives on Granville, 8 blocks from here, called me on my Magic Jack number from her AT&T land line numerous times within the last 6 weeks, and was billed $22.00 by her land line carrier, AT&T for these calls. They were made from her 773-area code number to my Magic Jack 773-area code number- a strictly local call. She called me, and incurred these charges as a result. She complained to AT&T, and was rudely informed that AT&T had the discretion to determine whether or not a particular call is a toll call.
Please note that AT&T provides the long distance connection for Magic Jack, as the Magic Jack user interface proclaims when you connect your device and it boots up.
That makes AT&T a party to the Magic Jack fraud.
I am lodging a complaint with every relevant authority, including but not limited to the Illinois Attorney General, the Federal Communications Commission, the local BBB, and every state and national elected official representing me, and if you are a Magic Jack user with similar issues, I would urge you to do the same.
It's not likely I can get a refund at this point, for I purchased the device two months ago at Radio Shack and paid cash. Unfortunately, after 4 weeks of relatively problem-free operation, I trusted and discarded my receipt, which was a mistake. Things started downhill steeply after 6 weeks of use, and now the device is utterly useless.
In my endless quest to squeeze the buck and tweak the watt, I'm game for any technology that can combine many purposes in one and eliminate a bill, while making life more convenient and enhancing my emergency preparedness.
One of my cherished aims has been to totally untether myself from landlines and go completely wireless, which is now really easy and economical. My plan was to get the wireless broadband from Cricket Mobile, then purchase a Magic Jack for economical phone service.
Unfortunately, the first stage of this plan worked better than the second stage.
I ditched my RCN internet cable in favor of Cricket Mobile's unlimited broadband, which gives me unlimited wireless connectivity and 3 gigs of downloads, with no "hot spot" necessary, for $$40 a month. I'm happy to report that the connection is flawless and that this is the best internet connection I have ever experienced. It seems faster than my old RCN connection, which is $37 a month, and it compares very favorably to the wireless broadband offered by Verizon and Sprint, which use the same CDMA technology but cost $60 a month for unlimited broadband plus 5 gigs of downloads. Believe me, the 3 gigs you get from Cricket is so ample for the needs of most personal and business users that you will never know or get the good of the extra 2 gigs Sprint offers. I really don't see how those two carriers can compete with Cricket, especially since they make you sign 2-year contract while Cricket requires no contractual commitment. Cricket's cellular telephone service is the most inclusive and economical out there: $40 a month for unlimited calling and texting in the lower 48 states, $35 for unlimited calling, long distance or local, but no texting, and you get a $5 discount if you bundle it with the broadband. There is also no contractual commitment for the cellular phone. All in all, I'm thrilled with my Cricket service and believe that this company is the best mobile carrier out there.
Additionally, the salespeople at the Cricket store at Sheridan and Lawrence bent over backwards to be helpful, to the point of letting me try out my Magic Jack VoIP device and phone on their connection before I bought their broadband card.
I'm not so happy with the Magic Jack. In fact, I'm thoroughly disgusted, and have had to give up making outbound calls using this device, which makes it a waste of money since I'm past the 30 day trial service. I bought the device at the Radio Shack on Sheridan near Loyola, and I would strongly recommend to Radio Shack that they drop this product if they have not already done so. You may have seen this gadget advertised on TV. The Magic Jack is a little gadget that employes VoIP technology, or Voice-over-internet Protocol, to tranmsit and receive telephone calls over your computer, saving the cost of a cellular or land line connection. This technology was first offered by Skype and Vonage, which are subscription services. The Magic Jack works differently. You buy the device for $39.95, and that price includes a year's worth of phone service, unlimited calling at any time in the lower 48 states, and very cheap rates for calling other countries. You plug the device into a USB port on your computer, and then plug any conventional land line telephone into it, and the device boots up automatically with no installation software, and you are ready to call. At set up, you are given a choice of phone numbers, and that number is permanently assigned to your device. A great feature is that you can carry this device around the world with you and make phone calls off your local number, using it, from anywhere. After your first year, you can renew your service at $20 per year, or you can buy 5 years of service for $59.95. Sounds great, huh?
Well, not exactly. At first, the device worked very well, with only a few minor glitches, such as a habit of dropping calls. It worked well over my Cricket connection, too, for about the first 6 weeks. However, it's been downhill ever since. At first, there was a steep slippage in audio quality, when people I called said that my voice was "breaking up" , like a bad cell phone connection. This got worse, to the point where my voice is completely unintelligible to the person at the other end, while I can hear them perfectly well. Strangely, people can hear me perfectly well on incoming calls. There are also many other problems cropping up. Some callers have reached other, strange people while calling my number. Often, I cannot call out. Sometimes calls go right to the message box without the phone ringing at all. We are having similar problems with the Magic Jack in our office, even though our connection there is a DSL, and when I googled "complaints about Magic Jack", I pulled up thousands of complaints about the device. Additionally, Magic Jack provides no physical address or telephone number at which the company can be reached, making a person wonder about their basic honesty and intentions. In summary, the Magic Jack is a scam, a half-baked product brought to market and promoted with sensational advertising, before it was thoroughly developed, and unless the company improves its service very quickly, this product will be a huge failure, and some other entrepreneur will pick up the pieces for pennies on the dollar and offer an improved version under a different brand name.