Vonage Cancellation Interview Plus MagicJack and Brainstorming

My Vonage contract ended on September 11. What did I learn from my year with Vonage? Don’t get locked into a VOIP contract. I see from recent Vonage commercials, that they have recently eliminated their annual contract.  But what does the fine print say? Are there any cancellation fees?

Years ago, before they had prepaid cell phone plans, you had to lock yourself into a year or two long contract. Now I rather type in “prepaid cell phone plans” into Google and see what comes up. You see major plays like AT&T, offering these options. Yet you probably get better options and pricing from some of the up and coming players.

Now if you type in “prepaid voip plans” into Google, you won’t find the same options available. As comedian Jerry Seinfeld would ask, “Why is that?”

I did cancel Vonage on September 11, 2010. I spoke to a service representation. They asked me two questions, in trying to convince me to stay on board.

  1. Why are you leaving? Answer: Google Voice is free and works great. I didn’t mention Magic Jack or NetTalk.
  2. You know 911 won’t be available. Answer: I have an AT&T land-line, which provides local 911 service.

They sent me an email, which confirmed my cancellation. I have a concern about this part from the email:

“Charges for any overages, payphone calls to Vonage toll-free numbers, and out of plan international calls or any other features and services outside your plan are separately emailed, billed and charged to your payment method within seven (7) days after cancellation.”

Does this mean if I call their toll free number from a payphone, to ask about a charge, I’ll be billed for the call?

Let’s take some questions from the field – shall we?

When you’re leading a brainstorm, where do you go for inspiration or successful techniques?

I take some tools from a “past life”, where I was a black belt at Motorola, taking part in big-ticket projects. I joined what I know from project management and six-sigma, as well as a graduate background in psychology.

  1. In one scenario, I might use  a fish bone diagram (see en.wikipedia.or… ), and have participants share ideas and then put them into the diagram.
  2. In another one, I might use a mind map (see en.wikipedia.or… ), and have participants suggest ideas and move them around.

There are other tools available.

What you want to do is use a tool that allows diagramming of ideas, where you can easily move and replace them. Think of it as a jigsaw puzzle, done by a group. Hope this helps!

I need some Magic Jack insight; latest software is giving me “echo”

“Magic jack released a new version of code several weeks ago, I have no phone that works well since then. I have nearly 14 hours documented on-line tech chat support. They are all having me chase my tail, changing all settings and finally conclude it’s my hardware (mj unit) or it’s my computer. Baloney I say. All worked fine for several months. Once the latest software came out and was downloaded when I started magic jack I’ve had horrible echo. They refuse to admit they have caused the issue.”

“I have Cox Communications Broadband ISP, running at 800 MHz, digital. The dB for that frequency is spec’d. at 32 to 50 dB. My Motorola Surfboard modem is settled in at 44-48 dB, within the spec’d. bandwidth by Cox. I had a Cox field tech come out, replace all the coax with the latest best wire, from my modem out to the local street hub, up a pole 50 yards away.”

“Magicjack refuses to send me a down rev software packet as a final proof that everything on my end is good, and that if the echo goes away, it is obviously the latest software that is the root cause. They claim the older code is destroyed and unavailable. Baloney, I know better. The code still exists in the development lab, even if it’s not compiled.”

“My last resort is file a lawsuit, claiming Terms of Service violations, Magicjack is not providing fair consideration in a contract. Is that all I have left?”

“I’m tired of fighting a lost battle.”

“What do you think? By the way, I have a word file with over 45 pages of chat logs, ready for an attorney if need be.”

My Answer:

First I always ask these questions:

  1. Is your computer software up to date (I.e. Do you have all the latest Windows or Max operating system updates, patches, or service packs)?
  2. Is the firmware for both your router, and DSL or Cable modem, up to date?
  3. Please also update your system drivers, via a vendor tool like Driver Detective?
  4. Have you seen this Magic Jack answers to Echo (How do I fix echo problems?) at en.wikibooks.or…? Note: This Wiki Q & A is probably not from MJ, as it talks about a hacker breaking an encryption code for an ATA device.
  5. If you run XP or Windows 2000, perhaps the SoliCall soft phone add-on at solicall.com/pr… might work
  6. Try running an Internet speed test at speedtest.net/… and a VOIP test at myspeed.visualw…, to insure your network can support VOIP.
  7. Have you posted your issue on a forum devoted to VOIP, Magic Jack, etc.? If not, I would send it to the proper forums, for resolution.
  8. Have you checked your system fragmentation?

If this is the case, then see if you can run a competing product on the system.

  1. Can you run NetTalk via Router or PC? Can you work with either router or PC?
  2. Can a Skype phone run via router?

In case you can’t get a resolution (but insist on taking “action”), here’s what I recommend looking into:

  1. Filing a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.
  2. Filing a complaint with the state Attorney generals office.
  3. Initiating a small claims court case filing.

The above three ways are methods to resolve issues that are low-cost.

However. I recommend people not to depend on one low-cost VOIP solution. This is why I use:

  1. Google Voice with Gizmo5/Grandstream Budge Tone 201 (via router) and an AT&T land-line.
  2. NetTalk via router.
  3. Magic Jack via computer
  4. A low-cost land-line, like AT&T measured rate or Sage phone service, as a backup.

Note: With my system, you can have 4 separate simultaneous phone conversations.

Note to myself:

  • I set my AT&T answering machine to 6 rings, which is about 30 seconds.  Google Voice has 25 seconds before kicking their voice mail in.  If anyone calls me, my land line answering machine won’t kick in before Google Voice mail.
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