Posted by: Sylvia, aka Shucky | August 14, 2010

Thinking About Using MagicJack? Consider This…

I recently heard that a lot of my friend’s clients use MagicJack, and she is considering getting one. Her clients are mostly refugees and people on social assistance, so it makes sense they would use an inexpensive phone alternative like MagicJack. If your folks are in, say, Brazil, you buy the thing up here, choose a local area code (like Toronto), mail it down to them, then they phone you for free because they are phoning from inside your area code, instead of paying LD because they are outside of the US and Canada.

Then another friend told me her dad uses it when he travels, and having been in the IT industry before he retired, I considered it must have some real merit. So I thought I would give it a try and see if I could save myself a few dollars.

Was I in for a surprise!

I ordered the MagicJack from their site, for $39.99 US. Then there was the $9.98 S&H. Okay to that, but then I had to pay Canada Customs $10.28 at the post office. Apparently, Canada Posties don’t always deliver small parcels when there is cash due on them, so they just dump it back to the local post office with a card saying no-one was at home (pants on fire!). And it seems Canada Customs agents don’t have much of a vocabulary for electronic items, because they are duty free, and yet they charged me.

Then there is set-up. A phone number in Canada is $10. So I set one up in the 905 area code, and informed my friends of this. Silly me!

The next day a friend up the street phoned, and let me know my number was a long-distance number. I Googled it, and dang – she was right! I had a Hamilton number. So I phoned MagicJack, and thus began my descent into customer-service hell.

MagicJack has no contact number or email address, only a chat link. Geraldine was the first contact. She was very sorry, but not helpful, so I asked for someone who could understand my problem. I got Eric. He was helpful at referring me all over the site, a rather circuitous tour, but what I had asked for was a local number, for which he finally wanted another $15. When I asked why he could not just give it to me, in light of set-up instructions being unclear (heck, Mississauga is not even listed on their site) and the problem with Canada Customs, he abruptly terminated the chat session.

Thus began the Googling, trying to find a contact for their billing department. Well, if you link at the bottom of one of their pages, there is a phone number, but it is not answered by a human, and they refer you back to their site. Ironically, I had to phone twice because the sound quality of the message is so very poor.

In Googling ‘MagicJack complaints’ I hit pay dirt. And what dirt! There are reasons why the MagicJack itself is so cheap!

It seems inventor Dan Borislow lives in an $11M house in Florida, so you can understand he needs a lot of money. This he gets by selling not only his MagicJack, which is a great idea, but rights of access to the MagicJack number you purchased (which was supposed to be your number) to marketing companies, and there is no security for those you phone or who phone you. Ew-w-w-w…

If the USB card has a problem, and evidently this in not an uncommon problem, you get to pay the S&H to send it back for a ‘full’ refund, or you can buy another for $19.99 + S&H + Canada Customs. Ew-w-w-w…

But wait! There’s more! If you find you have a problem with MagicJack and want the refund, there is no uninstall program! Ick! Ew-w-w-w-w… Fortunately, there is a site devoted to damage control from MagicJack usage, and its contributors have come up with three fixes (just Google MagicJack uninstall).

Then there is the ethical problem of sending customer service off-shore when so many of his own countrymen are out of work. And they are not very good at problem-solving, only saying they are sorry. According to the many complaints online, when asked for some real problem-solving, they just terminate the chat session. And I had to use the chat facility the very next day to get my refund underway.

This time Karla passed me over to Molly, who was very sorry, and requested a copy of a confirmation email MJ sent me, then disappeared for two hours. I finally logged out with the time noted in the text…I guess that’s the more polite alternative to just hanging up on people…

I did write to the old email addies of Dan-The-Magic-Man; one bounced, one no-reply told me to use the chat link, and I did receive a reply from Richard, the Technical Support Manager who uses Dan’s email address (no, Dan does not answer all his emails). Apparently Richard, by the dull listlessness of his response, did not even read my email. No problems solved there.

So folks, if you order a MagicJack from their site, it isn’t going to be an investment of $39.99, but just under $70 + (don’t forget the postage to Canada Customs when you write in for your refund, and more to send the thing back if you have problems with it). So if you must have one, go to WalMart and get the thing!

A round of Vonage, anyone?

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