MagicJack/Sentiment/Cons

Like all consumer products, MagicJack has flaws. To various degrees this can be attributed to the old adage: "you get what you pay for." Nobody should expect perfection from a $1.67-per-month[1] telephone service. Even among those who have complained about any of the following, a common refrain is "but, it's still a great deal."

Criticisms can be grouped generally into four categories: 1) missing features, 2) performance issues, 3) privacy concerns, and 4) business practices.

Missing FeaturesEdit

These issues are mostly a "wish list." However, some customers really wish for certain features. They may refer to the absence of a particular feature as a flaw.

  • Three-way calling.
  • CallerID blocking on outbound calls.
  • Blocking of inbound calls (by number, or all anonymous calls).
  • No international call forwarding
  • No exit feature on the softphone (to gracefully unmount the USB device).
  • No option to purchase and run the softphone by itself, without the USB device (dongle) thereby saving $20.00 plus shipping in the first year.
  • No option to use a traditional ATA device.
  • No choice of audio codecs (Uses only G711. G723 and G729 not available.).
  • No refunds of unused time. (More important to someone who pre-purchases 5 years.).
  • no call forwarding at anytime

Performance IssuesEdit

Customers tend to dismiss these issues as "you get what you pay for."

  • Poor Customer support.
    • Hard to reach. Non-responsive.
  • Poor Tech support.
    • Offshored.
    • Tech Support poorly trained; read from a script.
    • Reported to recommend solutions that can damage a customer's system (opening firewall ports, giving priority to all background processes, editing the registry, disabling anti-virus.).
    • No business address or phone number provided to customers. (Although, that information is available.)
  • Availability, reliability.
    • Server down.
    • Calls don't go through.
    • Voice mail stops working.
  • Quality complaints
    • Echo.
    • Static.
    • Beeps.
    • Most phones do not ring when incoming calls are received. Tech support blame it on insufficien power in most computers USB ports and suggest a powered USB hub that does not solve this critical problem.
  • Poor programming
    • The softphone re-reads the Windows registry every 3 seconds. Opens the USB device writable every 3 seconds. This will inevitably corrupt your flash drive if the device is frequently not removed properly.
    • No exit feature. However, you can terminate Magicjack from the task Manager.

Privacy ConcernsEdit

Passions about privacy vary greatly. For example, some object to Google Mail's targeted advertising (by analyzing mail). Yet, it's a hugely popular email service. For some, such concerns may appear to be excessive or unfounded paranoia. For others, paranoia is just another word for "perceptive."

Similarly, this topic can be divisive among MagicJack users. The following is merely presented to acknowledge a viewpoint which has been expressed on user forums frequently enough that it can't be dismissed as "fringe."

  • Tracking phone numbers called by users, for the purpose of selling targeted advertising (which has not yet materialized).
  • Open-ended Terms of Service. Suggested by some to allow future malware activities and related to criticisms of poor programming, some of the behaviors of the softphone have been suggested to be malware-like.

Business PracticesEdit

These topics have created the worst feedback about MagicJack, and contentiousness among its users. They can be difficult to excuse as "you get what you pay for." Individually, any few of these might be viewed as innocent mistakes. But, the prevalance or seriousness of any (or all) have caused concern even among the most satisfied MagicJack customers.

  • Charging credit cards before shipment.
  • Overcharging.
  • Charging credit cards after service had been clearly cancelled.
  • Not disclosing to debit-card purchasers that funds will be reserved immediately, not 30 days later. (There have been reports of debit cards charged before the 30-day trial. But, it's not clear if these customers were merely confused about how pre-authorizations work with debit cards. Or, if charges are for additional items purchased, such as the additional 4 years, or expedited handling.).
  • Not processing refunds in a timely manner.
  • Removing money from pre-paid international minutes, without explanation
  • Not disclosing that the "30-day free trial" begins at time of purchase, not time of receipt.
  • Infomercial tactics.
      • The web page's design,
      • "As Seen On TV" hyperbole, proclaiming "30-day trial ends today," every day. (See http://www.magicjack.com.).
      • Random number generator depicted as "the number of people who came for a free trial."
      • "Come on" tactics during the order process. Such as, offering "expedited handling" when those who didn't purchase it received their orders in the same amount of time.
      • Infomercial promises to pay return shipping, but magicjack does not honor their own promotion.
      • Infomercial claims that magicjack does not install anything on your computer, this is also not true.
      • Infomercial AND Website false claim that Magic-jack Plus requires no computer, when in fact it does.
      • Infomercial-like overstatements designed to lead customers to believe the service is unlimited[2] when the Terms of Service provide for termination based upon "excessive use," and when terminations have occurred.[3]
  • Selling five years of service, but only extending licenses by four. (Thanksgiving weekend, Nov. 28, 2008). A few days later licenses were extended by one year. It is worth noting that this occurred at the same time representatives of MagicJack met with the Better Business Bureau, promising to improve their business practices, resulting in the BBB temporarily reducing their "F" rating to "NR."[4] As of March 2009, the BBB website now gives the company an "A-" and states that it is fully in compliance with BBB standards.

These types of things have resulted in disappointment among (and contention between) many MagicJack customers. But, they usually suffix their complaints with "but, it's still a great bargain."

It has also led to negative feedback to consumer reporting/protection agencies:

It has been pointed out that these consumer organizations have a conflict of interest (to publish negative feedback in order to encourage the accused to join their respective organization for "assistance" cleaning up their reputation). This could explain these complaints to some extent. But, those organizations aren't making up the complaints.

Notes
  1. See Cost
  2. See
    • infomercial at 35 seconds ("Call everyone. Talk as long as you want. For just $19.95 a year.").
    • Canadian magicJack distributor claiming "unlimited" use. This is the distributor who manages the Canadian reseller agreement for MagicJack. ("THEMAGICJACK.CA's affiliation with magicjack.com is limited to Authorization by magicjack.com to resell the Magic Jack product and to manage the magicJack Reseller Agreement Program in Canada. THEMAGICJACK.CA has been directly authorized by Magic Jack LP and YMAX Corporation to provide this Authorization.", retrieved from web page Jan 2, 2009.).
  3. See the item Terminating users for "excessive use".
  4. "On November 25, 2008 the BBB met with representatives of Magic Jack to discuss various options to eliminate the cause and pattern of complaints filed by consumers. After discussion with the BBB MagicJack agreed to modify their website to clarify the terms an conditions of their 30 Day Free Trial offer. The Bureau also received a commitment from Dan Borislow, the president of Magic Jack, to provide improved customer service and a more "user friendly" product. The BBB has agreed to place Magic Jack on an NR status pending an evaluation of the changes made by the company."

    http://www.seflorida.bbb.org/BusinessReport.aspx?CompanyID=92003333, under "Other considerations" section, retrieved from web page January 21, 2009.
Last modified on 1 October 2013, at 11:24