Thursday, November 13, 2008

magicJack - the Saga Continues - be Careful Out There

I first posted about magicJack back in June, and I've never had a post with legs like this. I don't generate tons of comments like uber-bloggers do, but for some reason this post keeps finding people, and I think it's a sign of the times.

If magicJack is new to you (yes, that's a small "m" - part of its charm I guess), then just read my post, and you'll have the story. Basically, it's a USB gadget that gives you "free" VoIP. The company/inventor behind the product is more interesting than the product itself, and that's what my post focused on.

Aside from the post itself, the comments tell you what people really think about this thing. Just when it looks like the world has moved on to other can't-miss ideas, I get another magicJack comment last night - here's an excerpt:

I am completely shocked at how Dan Borislow has misrepresented his product, and his "free, 30 day trial" which is nonexistant. I ordered 2 on the trial, just to have my credit card immediately charged. I went to their chat window customer service, and they refused all phone numbers to reach anyone at an administrative level. They charged my creditcard without my authorization, after they sent me an email stating it would not be charged for 30 days. They then refused to reverse the charge. I will not accept their delivery, I will file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, and look into a class action lawsuit against this company, as it seems thousands have been scammed by this company's blatant misrepresentation.

Oooh. Not a happy customer, and he has more to say - check it out for yourself.

I'm always happy to get comments, but this one sets off red flags for me. First of all, magicJack is still around. They are either the real deal and must be doing something right - or, there are still loads of people out there reading mass market advertisements who will jump sight unseen at the prospect of saving some money. Unless magicJack has changed its stripes - which is doubtful based on the above comment - there's a lot of fine print that prospective buyers should be reading and understanding before placing an order.

You don't need me to tell you how bad things are out there, and telecom is not immune. What worries me is how attractive the promise of magicJack is to people trying to save money any way they can. Nothing wrong with saving money in tough times, but magicJack is hardly a straight up proposition. It may seem that way if you're not careful, but Paul's comment from yesterday is a reminder that it's not.

His parting thought says it all for me...

The moral of the story is don't trust a phone company that tells you they do not have a phone number you can call if you have a problem with billing or anything else. A phone company with no phones sure sounds fishy...

The allure of FREE is pretty strong these days, and generally you get what you pay for. Clearly magicJack is still attracting interest, and based on some of the comments I've had, they do have happy customers. However, for a product I have concerns with, I tend to put more stock in what people like Paul are saying.

In short, caveat emptor. Free can be a beautiful thing, but everything comes with a price, even VoIP!

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Andrew said...

Posted by: Andrew

"The moral of the story is don't trust a phone company that tells you they do not have a phone number you can call if you have a problem with billing or anything else. A phone company with no phones sure sounds fishy..."

like Skype ;) ?

Magic jack is interesting from a marketing point of view, we all agree it is old technology, but a lot of really smart people, have a lot of really great ideas but lack the sales and marketing to get it out there. As industry people we tend to think we know it all when it comes to distribution and then a company like MJ comes along and sells a freaking ton of hardware by breaking all the rules that they never knew existed. I am not going to weigh in on whether they are ethical, as I am not a customer and have never used the product, but I admire greatly 'lets get it done' approach they took to go to market.

pat phelan said...

Posted by: pat phelan

I eventually had to close comments on my Magicjack post Jon
The complaints were unbelievable, I still get calls a couple of times a week asking have I anything to do with MagicJack

Michael Graves said...

Posted by: Michael Graves

I simply cannot believe the traffic generated by a couple of posts I did touching on majicJack. One was simply a pointer to instructions on lifting the SIP credentials. The other about using a modified thin client running XPe as a host for the dongle. I'm not seeing complaints, but traffic all the time.


Jon Arnold said...

Posted by: Jon Arnold

Thanks for sharing that Michael. Our paths haven't crossed before, but the blogs work in mysterious ways. Interesting idea there about SIP trunking with MJ - love it.

Jon Arnold said...

Posted by: Jon Arnold

Nice to hear from you, Pat. Glad to hear it's not just me getting this type of feedback. Thanks for the validation!

Jon Arnold said...

Posted by: Jon Arnold

Thanks Andrew - I thought about Skype there too, but didn't want to go down that road - that's a whole other topic.

I agree - marketing has as much to do with success as the technology. It seems pretty rare to find companies that can do both really well.

Tom Tartaglia said...

Posted by: Tom Tartaglia

Hello All,

I felt compelled to get in on all the fun here since I happen to be a magicJack evangelist, as I've been user since they were still in 'beta' and I'm happy to report the product continues to get better and better.

Furthermore, I'd like to point out that the excerpt posted above about the 'unauthorized credit card charge' is likely due to the consumer using a 'debit card' rather than a true 'credit card' in order to purchase the magicJack. The company clearly stipulates on its website that if a consumer uses a 'debit card' to check with their financial institution, since many banks will put a 'hold on'the purchase amount -- in affect, 'debiting' the purchase amount from the debit card holder/consumers account-- thereby giving an appearance that magicJack has taken the $39.95 prior to the expiration of the 30day free trial. The truth is that magicJack will not rcve the payment from the financial institution until day 31. So that explains that issue.

With regard to no 'telephone number' for magicJack -- this business decision is explained, in detail, by Dan Borislow, magicJack inventor in his interview from LAPTOP magazine. See link:

Finally, for all non-believers or doubters or folks reluctant to buy a product from an infomercial..go to any Radio Shack or Best Buy store and purchase the magicJack. Yup, the product, the company, the business offer is the real deal. These retailers are getting on the magicJack bandwagon and realize a hot product when they see one -- a legit product which is intended to save people money on phone calls.

Go magicJack!!

Tauheedah said...

Posted by: Tauheedah

MajicJack is a scam. I received it and it never worked! I was never informed of this supposed 30 day period, when i tried to return it after the 30 days, i could not speak to anyone over the phone at all. I had to go online and I did a web chat with two very rude magicjack employees. All in all I was scammed for $67.00 for crap that did not work!

Rochelle Landy said...

Posted by: Rochelle Landy

I have Magic Jack and I had a problem with one of the two I purchased. I contact a live person on line about the bad one and they told me where to send it back, and I did and in the mean time they sent me a new one. The only complaint I have with Magic Jack is when they send you a new one the phone number changes. They said they are working on so if they have to send you a new one you can keep your old one. I live in Florida and Bell South has all kinds of State and Local charges and taxes, and Magic Jack for $20.00 a year is great for me. I think given a little more time Magic Jack will work out their kinks.

Prepaid Cell Phone Guy said...

Posted by: Prepaid Cell Phone Guy

I have a friend in Thailand who is using one and loves it. He set it up while he was still in the states. I just got one and I have not set it up on my computer yet. I have been using Skype for the last year. I paid $30 for a year of service and no incoming number just an outgoing number.

I have read a lot of reviews of problems.

Connie said...

Posted by: Connie

I got my first magic jack back in mar07, since then, i have ordered 4 more to give to family and friends. I have one in the Philippines, Japan, Mexico and Costa Rica and they all work great. It's practically plug and play. I've never had any issues so i cannot comment on their customer service, but their website is bordering into 'misleading' just make sure you pay extra attention in what you are selecting before you hit the ok or next button. I recommend MJ to everyone i know and the ones that got them are very happy with the product. I think this is a great product.