When I purchased the MagicJack product I was not expecting to write a review of it. I purchased it for my own use. I had seen the commercials and infomercials and it looked like a great and revolutionary product. After seeing the ads a few months I decided I could use a second home office number. I wanted a phone number to give out to people I did not really want to have my number. One of the advantages of the MagicJack is that you can change your phone number anytime. That was appealing to me and I found that tidbit of information and more on the magicjack.com website. I was still unsure of the quality so I did some web surfing and found many positive reviews. I was sold so I went directly to their website and purchased.
The TV ads say 1.70/month or $19.95/year but the real price is $39.95, or actually $46.10 with shipping. I found it odd that they made no effort to explain this price on their website. I suppose it is $19.95 for the device and 19.95 for the first year, or maybe $39.95 for the device and the first year is free. They never really say, but it makes no difference. that is the price you pay.
They do have some smart marketers working for them. Every screen tries to upsell you to something else whether it is a custom phone number or a second or third unit or something else.
I received my confirmation email and it had the wrong shipping address. I was stunned that they would alter the shipping address I provided. I know what my address is. I entered the correct address with my Suite number. They removed my suite number and left only the street and number. I guess they have something against people in apartments or who use suite numbers. Even if the address they shipped to was wrong my mailbox company knows my name so they did deliver it. I cringe to think how many orders go to large apartment complexes where the postman does not know each person's name though. This seems like a serious problem in their order system. Why would they chop off part of a mailing address?
I received my unit in the mail by first class mail a few days after ordering. I was excited over the chance to test it out.
First, I looked at the sleeve it came in for instructions. Then I looked a second and third time when I realized there were no instructions on the card. Again, it struck me as odd that they would not include instructions. I suppose they thought any idiot could figure it out and their infomercials say it is as easy as plugging into your usb port. That is what I did. A window opened with a file named DO NOT NOT USE THIS DRIVE, another autorun.inf and a hidden folder named magicjack. Again no Readme.txt file and no type of instructions. Then windows opened up a window asking if I want to run the utility. I selected yes and it began installing. So far so good.
This is what the software looks like. At the bottom it showed a message saying I needed to setup my account and CLICK HERE so I clicked there and nothing happened. I clicked again and nothing. I clicked ten more times and it did nothing. I right clicked and selected the option to restart the application. It did restart and only then did it show me a screen where I could setup my account.
I enter my information and try to select my phone number. The number I wanted was in area code 310. That is THE area code to have. If you do not have a 310 Beverly Hills area code then you must be a nobody. I selected the 310 area code because it was listed as available in their list. It then said no numbers were available and all were reserved. OK, then why was it listed as an option? I then pick my second choice and I am assigned a phone number.
Now some ads appear in the software box. I knew they were hoping to be an ad supported company in the future. Well, everything looks like it is working. It connected to the Internet to validate my phone number and to show the ads so everything is working right?
I plug in my phone and lift it off the receiver to hear dial tone. Great! I call my home phone number to test and wait...and wait.. and wait.. silence......
So what is going on? I look at the software and it says "No network connection [error 9]".
Now we have found out something important. When I previously googled for reviews I did not google for error messages. That was my mistake. If I had googled for "magicjack error" I might have found thousands of posts about this problem. I found several people suggesting to restart or check your firewall so I did those but they did not work. I then right clicked on the software and it had a help option which I selected. It opened a webpage of options including GET LIVE HELP IN SECONDS. Being someone who knows about computers I was confident they would have a fix in a faq but I could not find a faq link on this page. I had to click the get live help link. When I did that I discovered there was no live help! None at all. It was a false claim. They do not offer live help at all. It goes to a page of common questions, ahh, here was the faq. Now why did they not just list this on the main help page?
The faq was very short and did not answer my question. At the bottom it had another link that said clearly:
To reach a Live Person, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week CLICK HERE
Well I did click there and guess who I talked to...no one. There was still no live help available. Instead it took me to a knowledge base and said at the top "every answer you will get from a live agent is available right here at your fingertips without delay" which is another way of saying "We were lying about live help but you can look it up yourself". I found this to be very offensive. If they do not offer live help then they should not claim they do.
I did search the knowledge base and the only advice it gave was to restart or to make sure your firewall was not blocking the data connection. Well I did that, plus I disabled my firewall, I made sure the Windows firewall had an exception rule for mj, and twenty other things they did not recommend including changing my router to DMZ the computer my MJ was plugged into. That should have removed any impediment to transmission. I was still confused about why it would even show the error 9 message. It was obvious my computer was connected to the Internet and their software accessed the Internet over my computer to setup the phone number and to open the help page so why was it claiming there was no network connection? It made no sense to me at all. If I can access the Internet over my computer and their software can access the Internet, then why can it not make calls?
I decided to try it again even with the error and called my new number from my home phone. I received a voicemail message and my MJ connected phone never rang.
Well I fooled with it some more and finally gave up after wasting two days. On the help page there is an option to return your unit and it is titled "Returns, Sad to see you go. If for any reason the magicJack does not perform just as we say, return it to us during the first 30 days and your card will not be charged"
That is what I wanted to do so that is the icon I clicked. Can you guess what the result was? A new screen saying "We're Sorry.. We are in the process of updating our systems. Please try again later."
Even though I am impatient, I waited 30 minutes and tried again. The page did come up this time. It had an offer saying "Stop, don't return your magicJack yet! We will let you get a second number for free when your area code becomes available."
I am not sure what that even means. If it does not work with one number then why would I want a second non working number? And what are they trying to say about an area code. My area code was available, at least my second choice, so is this message really saying that someday, maybe, if I do not cancel I might get a second number? That is what it sounds like.
Then it says below this "Go to Tech Chat" if you still have issues. I click the chat link and it takes me to the knowledge base. Again NO CHAT and no customer service.
I completed the return form and printed it out. It said I had to return my MJ by Jan 14 when I had ordered on Dec 19 so that is 30 days allowing for mail time.
So they promised live support and did not deliver. They promised easy installation but it gives an error. They promised phone calls and did not deliver. I searched their site and could not even find a phone number for support. I guess the MJ does not work for them either so they can't make or receive calls.
I thought I saw something about help in the confirmation email so I checked it. It says "For questions regarding technical information click here Technical Help and a representative will assist you." so I click that link. It opens the SAME page I saw before and there is no way to contact any representative, no phone, no chat, no email, no help at all.
I run a nice little utility called simeter which monitors my system usage. I noticed that after I installed MJ my cpu usage was maxed out most of the time. I checked and MJ uses 50% or more of my CPU constantly with most usage around 75%. This is on a dual processor new computer too. What can it possibly be doing that requires so much processing power? I have to wonder because this is not normal at all. There is NO WAY you could install this software on your primary family computer
I then tried to uninstall their software. That is when I discovered there is no way to uninstall it. Usually when someone makes a program that cannot be uninstalled it is for some sinister reason. Suddenly I was very nervous about exactly what this program was doing that I did not know about. I went to my start button program menu and discovered there is no magicjack menu or program option listed and no uninstall option, not even a run option. It is like it is not even on my computer. I went to Control Panel/Programs to uninstall but it is not listed there either. The only indication it is on my computer is the desktop icon. There is no way to uninstall this software. I search their knowledge base and find out they provide a mjremover.exe program that you must run to uninstall their software. This is most unusual. Why do they not have a normal uninstall like 99.9999% of all other windows software? It made me very leery of running their uninstall program. I am now wondering exactly what it is going to do and if it is actually going to remove MJ or install something new. If you have a MAC then you are just out of luck. The instructions for mac only say "Coming soon" so there is no way for a Mac user to remove the software. Gee, I wonder if Mac people see a warning when they install telling them there is no way to remove the software. You just have to delete the files you can find and hope you got them all.
Fortunately I do have a Vista system so I ran the uninstall program. Before that I thought I should shut down MJ. I right clicked(there is no menu on the software) and looked for a shut down option. There is NONE. There is NO WAY to close the program. I used task manager to kill the process for MJ and my CPU usage dropped to almost nothing. What a resource hog. I don't see how anyone could use this software full time. You have to buy a dedicated computer, otherwise you could not get anything done even on a fast system. I suppose the mjremover.exe uninstalled the software, at least I cannot find anything named magic* on my system now.
The more I learn about MJ, the less I like it and the more I distrust the company selling it. If it worked then it would have been great, but it don't. There is nothing unusual about my computer setup either. The computer I installed it on is an out of the box DELL with nothing special on it. It is actually my backup computer so I rarely touch it and have never installed anything strange on it. It is connected to a router(and I did try DMZ and opening the ports for MJ) which is connected to a cable modem. So my computer is nothing special, exactly the same setup that the average person would have and it still did not work at all.
Upside: MagicJack is easy to install, it has a good feature set, and the price is great.
Downside: MagicJack does not work, they offer no live support, their returns page appears to be up and down.
If you do purchase this product, buy from a local retailer and make sure you know their return policy first. Do not purchase through the company website or any website or infomercial. I also would not suggest using the number as your main business or home number. MagicJack may be pushing their product heavily and hoping for a big return because they have a lot of units in homes, but if their service is no better than this, I do not think very many of their users will pay for that second year or even run the application to see the ads it is supposed to show. They may not be around that long in other words.
I never made or received a single call on my MJ and it continued to show the Error 9 message even when I had established that there was no router issue, no firewall issue, and no other Internet issue and the program was fully capable of validating my phone number over the Internet.
I gave it high ratings for price, ease of installation, and features, but the overall rating is zero because there was no support, the fixes recommended on the knowledge base did not work, the website falsely claimed they offered live assitance, and the biggest problem was that the product simply did not work. I was completely dissatisfied with MagicJack, I do not recommend this product.
Update: I did receive a refund on 1/6/2010 to my credit card.
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