Random Thoughts – Randocity!

Rant Time: MagicJack – Scam or Legit?

Posted in botch, business, scam, scams by commorancy on September 11, 2018

magicJackThe magicJack company offers a voice over IP phone service. You can use it with an app on your phone or by a device plugged into an actual landline-type phone. It does require Internet to function. Either way you go, it’s VoIP and they have very questionable and deceptive billing practices. Let’s explore.

Internet Phone Service Choices

If you’re in need of phone services on a device that only has access to WiFi, then a voice over IP service (VoIP) is what you need. There are many different VoIP services available on the Internet. You can even make audio and video calls via Facetime on iOS, via Skype on pretty much any mobile or desktop computer or even via Google Hangouts. For this reason, magicJack is yet another VoIP phone service in a sea of choices.

Why would you want to choose magicJack? Initially, they were one of the lowest priced VoIP phone services. They also offered a tiny computer dongle that made it easy to plug in a standard home phone. That was then. Today, mobile devices make this a different story. Lately, this company has raised their prices dramatically and they’re performing some quite deceptive and questionable billing practices.

911 Service

As with any phone service that offers the ability to use 911, the service must tack on charges to the bill by the municipality. You’d think that part of the invoice that magicJack is already collecting in payment of services would also cover for those 911 services. I certainly did. Instead, magicJack isn’t willing to part with any of their service revenue to actually cover services that, you know, they provide as part of your phone service… like any other phone company does.

MagicJack seems to think they can simply pass on said charges right to you in an email invoice and have you pay them separately. Here’s where magicJack gets firmly into scam and deceptive billing territory.

I’m sorry magicJack, but you’re forcing the 911 service when we don’t really need it or want it on that magicJack VoIP phone line. If you’re going to force this service as part of the overall service, then damned well you need to suck it up and pay the expenses from what we pay you. There is no way in hell I’m going to pay an ‘extra’ bill simply because you are unwilling to use the collected service fees to pay for those bills, like any other carrier on the planet. It’s not my problem that you choose not to do this.

You, magicJack, need to pay those bills to the 911 service. It’s your service, you forced 911 onto my line and now you must pay the piper. If you can’t do this, then you need to go out of business. This means, you need to collect the 911 service fees at the time you collect the payment for your services. And you know what, you already collected well enough money from me to cover those 911 service fees many times over. So, hop to it and pay that bill. This is not my bill to pay, it’s yours.

MagicJack Services

Should I consider magicJack services as an option when choosing a VoIP phone service? Not only no, but hell no. This service doesn’t deserve any business from anyone! This is especially true considering how many alternatives exist for making phone calls in apps today. Skip the stupidly deceptive billing hassles and choose a service that will bill you properly for ALL services rendered at the time of payment.

MagicJack is entirely misinformed if they think they can randomly send extra bills for whatever things that they deem are appropriate. Worse, magicJack is collecting payments for that 911 service, but you have no idea if that money will actually make it to the 911 municipal services in your area. That money might not even make it there and you may still receive a bill. In fact, if the municipality does send you a bill, you need to contact them and tell them to resend their bill to magicJack and collect their fees owed from magicJack, which has already been collected in the funds to cover any and all phone services. If magicJack claims otherwise, they are lying. If you are currently using magicJack’s services, you should cancel now (even if you have credit remaining).

Is magicJack a scam? Yes, considering these types of unethical and dubious billing practices. Even though their VoIP service works, it’s not without many perils dealing with this company. As with any service you buy into, Caveat Emptor.

MagicJack Headquarters

Here is the absolute biggest red flag of this scam company. MagicJack claims their corporate headquarters address is located here:

PO BOX 6785
West Palm Beach, FL 33405

Uh, no. Your headquarters cannot be inside of a PO Box.

Yelp claims that magicJack’s US address is here:

5700 Georgia Ave
West Palm Beach, FL 33405

Better, but still not accurate. This is not their corporate headquarters. This is simply a US office address. Who knows how many people actually work there? We all should know by 2018 just how many scams originate from Florida.

When you visit magicJack’s web site, no where on any of the pages does it show their actual physical headquarters address. This is a HUGE red flag. Where is magicJack’s actual headquarters?

magicJack Vocaltev Ltd (opens Google Maps)
Ha-Omanut Street 12
Netanya, Israel

As a point of consumer caution, you should always be extra careful when purchasing utility and fundamental services from any Israeli (or other middle east) companies. Worse, when companies cannot even be honest about where their corporate headquarters are on their own web site, that says SCAM in big red letters.

Class Action Lawsuit

Here’s another situation where this company needs to be in a class action lawsuit. I’m quite certain there are a number of folks who have been tricked into this scammy outfit and are now paying the price for their unethical and scammy business practices. However, because they are located in Israel, setting up a class action lawsuit against this company may be practically impossible. Better, just avoid the company and buy your phone services from U.S. based (or other local) companies where they are required to follow all local laws.

Rating: 1 star out of 10
Phone Service: 5 out of 10 (too many restrictions, limits call length)
Customer Service: 1 star out of 10
Billing: 0 stars out of 10
Overall: Scam outfit, cannot recommend.

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Contacting Amazon.com support — where is that number?

Posted in best practices, business, customer service by commorancy on March 8, 2011

Phone numbers have been updated for easy dialing. Click or tap to dial.

More and more, companies are hiding their support phone numbers behind layers and layers of web pages.  They simply don’t want you to call in.  They seem to think that their automated systems are so bulletproof that there is no need ever to talk to a human being. Well, Amazon has taken this to the extreme. Amazon is now so hands off, even their Amazon Web Services site has no sales phone number. As if the automated signup and sales process is so fool-proof that you won’t fall into any kind of trap… what a joke!

So, the question begs, how the heck are you supposed to ask questions about their services or about charges on your cards? Clearly, a company can’t do business like this long term. Customer Service is everything and hiding your support people behind layers of web pages is so completely counter to sales and support, I don’t understand how these companies even stay in business.

What are consumers to do except get more and more frustrated? Instead of getting frustrated, this article is here to expose these hard-to-find phone numbers for all to see and use.

Amazon’s Customer Service line:

  • 1-866-216-1072 (they can transfer you to other departments, just ask)
  • International customers: 1-206-266-2992. Charges may apply.
  • For AWS subscribers, call the above number(s) and politely ask to be transferred to the AWS support team since there is no direct number for AWS.
    • Keep in mind that you will need a paid phone support contract with AWS to talk to a representative. Without a contract, they may not talk to you.

Ebay.com:

  • 1-866-540-3229 — Note, they require one-time use pin codes or press # if you don’t have it.  It will likely expedite your call to set pincode up from the link.  You’ll need to login to do this.

Paypal:

  • 1-888-221-1161 — Note, need to login and set up one time-use pin code, but you may be able to skip this step when calling without one.  It will probably expedite your call if you set one up.

Rakuten.com:

BestBuy.com:

Frys.com:

Netflix.com:

  • 1-866-716-0414 — Note, faster if you use the express code from your account

Redbox.com:

Hulu.com:

Virgin Mobile:

Wells Fargo:

Airlines:

I’ll add more as I find them.  Of course, if you find any new numbers that need to be here, feel free to comment.  If any of these stop working, please comment as well.

Enjoy!

Voice ads during your cell phone calls?

Posted in botch, business, iphone by commorancy on January 27, 2011

Just when you thought that advertisers couldn’t get any more annoying, along comes yet another technology that, on the surface, seems quite intrusive and may even become a privacy issue.  This time, it’s on your cell phone.

Paying to hear ads?

It’s not as if cell phone plans and cell plan minutes are cheap.  The average cost per minute is  around 10 cents.  Some postpaid plans may be able to get the cost down to around 7-8 cents per minute, but that’s only for high dollar high volume plans.  The average small to mid-sized plan is usually around 10 cents per minute after taxes, fees and other charges have been tallied. With prepaid, the cost is 10 cents per minute.  I’ve yet to find one carrier that has less than 10 cents per minute prepaid plans.

That said, because you’re paying for your service, you are also implicitly paying to not have advertising on your phone during your conversations with other people. Advertisers need to learn that when consumers are paying for something, advertising on that space is off-limits. If the advertisers want to help subsidize our costs for something, then we will be willing to tolerate external advertising. It’s a give and take process here. So, advertisers (and those enabling this new technology) need to understand this part of the equation.

What exactly is this technology?

Good question. It doesn’t have a cleverly coined name yet, so let’s call it ‘jam’ (as in they’re jamming up the airwaves with advertising in your cell phone call.. and it also rhymes with spam :). This new technology plans to use the carriers to interject audio advertising into the cell phone’s audio stream during a call.  Specifically, during hold music and other ‘dead air’ times.

There’s really only one place in the call flow where such advertising can be injected with new audio and that’s on the carrier’s equipment.  It’s also possible that it could happen right on the handset through an actively running app.  Either way, ‘jam’ isn’t what people want.

Advertising during dead air?  Why would we want that?

Well, the answer is as consumers, we don’t.  So, why enable this technology? Because someone can.  That and that someone thinks they can make money from this service as well. Good luck with that business model. Anyway, the idea is relatively simple, but definitely not pleasant.  Worse, though, is that the advertiser may even have your personal buying habits and interject ‘relevant’ advertising into your call. Not that relevant advertising is bad, but it’s rather creepy when it’s injected into audio conversations of a cell phone. So, you’re on hold waiting for someone to fix your computer and then injected audio steps in and advertises for that vacation to Hawaii you searched on the web just an hour before you called.  Ugh, creepy.

Worse, though, is what happens if their dead air recognizing routine fails and it begins injecting advertising in the middle of your conversation?  Ewww… now not only will you hear the ad, but likely so will your caller.  If you happen to be on a business call… well, all I can say is ewww.. messy and embarrassing.

Opt-out

For such a technology to have any hope of working to even any degree, there must be an opt-out mechanism.  If there isn’t such an opt-out system, users will be calling their carriers to complain, that’s a guarantee… especially if such an advertisement interrupts a business call.

Jam on businesses

The primary target for this advertising system is during hold time.  I admit that hold music is often boring and repetitive.  But, does that give the right to an unrelated third party to inject jam into your phone for their benefit?  And, what of the business on the other end providing hold music?  They may have advertising that they are counting on to up-sell their newest products.  Yet, if jam interrupts and begins selling ‘relevant’ advertising in the form of a competitor, how is fair to the company you’re calling?  This system has now injected competitive advertisements without that company’s consent.  I see this as a lawsuit just waiting to happen.

Carrier and phone level access

Frankly, I’m surprised that the wireless carriers would even allow this level of access into their network.  Unless, of course, these companies can figure out a way of doing it directly into the handset.  Either way, it will require very low level access to either the handset or the carrier network to inject this level of audio into a conversation.  The trouble, of course, is what happens when their system goes haywire and injects audio at inappropriate times?  And, you know this will happen.  This isn’t going to make either caller very happy, especially if this happens during a business call or a conference call.  I just see failure written all over this.

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