It was a rocky start - but once I ironed out all the issues the lack of monthly phone bills has been amazing!
Home phone service costs about $30 + tax every month. Five years worth of that is $2,070.
With magicJack, I paid $50 for the original device which came with 12 months of service and cost around $20 per year thereafter + $10 a year for a Canadian phone number (all figures in US Dollars).
A couple of years later, I decided to purchase an upgraded magicJack Plus so I could plug it directly into my router without needing to keep the computer on. That one cost $80 including shipping and offered another 12 months of free service. The price of additional service for the new device rose to $35 per year + $10 for my Canadian number.
All told, I’ve spent $429 CAD at today’s currency conversion rates for devices and service over the last 5 years - an impressive savings of 79% when compared to the cost of a regular home phone.
I also enjoyed big additional savings from the unlimited long distance to Canada & USA included with magicJack and the long list of calling features it has at no extra charge.
magicJack Is Incredibly Simple To Use
There are lot of options out there when it comes to voice over IP phone calling - gonevoip has a great list here - but few of them are cheaper than magicJack. What has kept me using magicJack over the long haul though is not the price, but how simple it is to set up an use.
The original device was revolutionary in that you could plug it into the USB slot of any computer and be using a traditional phone to make free phone calls from anywhere in the world to Canada or the USA within minutes - no other service at the time made it so easy for non-techies.
Today, it’s even easier to use because you can also simply plug it into your router with a standard network cable and your cordless phone system can be running 24/7 just like a normal home phone. Other devices that now offer similar simplicity are Ooma (monthly “taxes and fees” are higher than yearly magicJack cost) and Nettalk - but they are both more expensive initially and monthly.
Related: 5 Ways to Hack Your Cell Phone Bill
Getting The Cost Even Lower
Recently I switched from paying $35 per year to $99 up front for 5 years of service. That works out to $19.80 per year or $1.65 per month. Tack on the $10 for a Canadian number and convert to CAD and my final cost is $3.30 per month.
I held back from switching to the 5 year plan for a long time because I read horror stories from early magicJack users about their device failing and not being able to transfer the remaining time on their 5 year subscription to a new device.
Since then, magicJack has changed their policy and now allow you to do this by contacting customer support after purchasing a new device so I’m no longer afraid to commit. I also now have to spend less time renewing the service every year.
How Good Is The Quality?
I stand by my original statement that the quality is “probably superiour to that of a typical cell phone conversation”. I do occasionally get someone on the other end tell me that I am cutting out, but the problem usually goes away within seconds and things are back to normal.
I also had a persistent issue with call volume being just a little too low even when I maxed out the volume on my cordless phone system. It was good enough - just annoying if there was a lot of noise in the room.
I recently purchased a new 4 handset cordless system from VTech and now the volume is much better. As long as you have a cordless system with good volume, you too should be fine.
Bottom line: if you have a reasonably fast internet connection - you should experience good quality.
Doubling Down On magicJack
I’ve been so happy with magicJack that I decided to purchase a magicJack Go to use as my business line about a year ago. I don’t make a lot of business calls so it is fine for a primary line with my cell phone as a backup.
It’s been working flawlessly since day one with absolutely no glitches - simply plug and play.
Just last month, I purchased another one for my partner to use as her business line and I’m about to set it up in the next few days. I expect a similarly smooth experience with this one too.
Technical Support Can Be Frustrating
There are plenty of negative individual reviews online for magicJack if you look hard enough. Most of them can be traced back to one thing - frustrating customer support.
They only offer one form of support - live online chat - which can be annoying to use because it is a slow way to communicate.
I’ve had to use this service myself quite a few times with my first device and I can confirm it was less than ideal. The support is essentially low paid people telling you a set of robotic instructions, repeating the same things often, and not really answering all your questions directly.
I feel like my most recent interactions have been more positive - the support has improved over time. They do have a reasonably good system for escalating calls and most of the time they will eventually solve your problem. It still is no frills support though. Frankly, they can’t afford to offer premium support for such an inexpensive product.
Even with basic support, magicJack still receives an average 4-star or higher customer rating at most online stores that sell it. The same thing can’t be said for many of its competitors.
Bottom line: combining the power of Google search, internet forums, and their chat support together should help you solve most issues you might encounter. Thankfully, the chances of encountering an issue today is much less than it was 5 years ago.
Is magicJack Right For You?
Honestly, magicJack is a great option for reducing your home and long distance costs.
Even if you are cell phone only, it helps reduce your usage so you could choose a lower cell phone package that will save you money.
It’s great for relatively low-tech people too which is a huge bonus. You should just be able to plug it into your computer, follow the registration steps, and start using the device right away.
If you're looking for another option, My Own Advisor wrote his review of Fongo after he cut his landline.
The one caveat I have is to not use it as your primary phone or for a line where reliability is incredibly important. You can hook it up with 911 service in Canada, but I wouldn’t rely on it in an emergency.
If you have internet problems of any kind, your phone will stop working. Just be aware of that and and have a backup plan. Even a cheap prepaid cell phone that costs $100 a year would work well as a backup.
I recommend purchasing magicJack from a Canadian retailer like Amazon that has a no fuss return policy. You can just box it up and send it back to them if you have problems - they will usually cover return shipping charges if you are unhappy with the product.