The Best VoIP Services Where You Get Real Savings

By Matt W. Larson

In recent months, we’ve seen a lot of hoopla over Vonage and MagicJack, as well as other cheap VoIP services. This is understandable really. In these times, a penny saved can mean a lot. The economy’s in tatters and we all want to cut down our day-to-day cost of living, but are Vonage, MagicJack and the cheap VoIPs our only options when we want real savings? Are these necessarily the best VoIP services around?

Vonage: Savings at Face Value Only

Despite the media barrage that Vonage is one of the cheapest VoIP companies around, it is not really so. A typical Vonage bill will list its low-low service cost sure, but run through that list and you will see all sorts of “other fees” – fees you don’t normally find in other VoIP services’ bills. For example, there’s the Regulatory, Compliance and Intellectual Property fee. Surely the company will find ways to spin these fees and make them sound almost logical, but since when are the “Regulatory, Compliance and Intellectual Property” costs for using a service not just part of the price? You know these expenses exist for everything from a gallon of milk to a trip to the dentist office, so why does Vonage get to present it as if it’s some special tax?

And, if ever you find yourself dissatisfied with the company’s service, make sure you do something about it within the 30-day money-back guarantee period and have enough patience on hand. You’d need to call their toll-free number (expect to be on hold for about 30 minutes) just to cancel. If you act too late and you haven’t even reached two years with the company, expect some sort of cancellation fee. For now, the fee’s at $39.99, but we’ve read horror stories of it as high as $140 for users who have accepted special promotional pricing or “pre-owned” equipment.

Where the real savings come in are really hard to find in this mess. This is really sad. Vonage is one of the pioneering companies in the VoIP industry. They should have just been more upfront with their customers.

MagicJack: Overhyped?

Of course, who can ignore the MagicJack? MagicJack is a USB device you use to connect through your computer and make phone calls to anywhere in the United States… FREE (ahh… but what is it our parents told us? “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”) If you want to use a conventional phone with it, you need to get a subscriber line interface to plug into the device. Telecommunications connections are through its sister company, YMAX. Your first year using MagicJack is “free”; subsequent years come with a $19.99 fee. By the looks of it, MagicJack seems great. Calls within the country and Canada are free – who can resist that?

But then again, your MagicJack connection depends on your computer being on all the time. That’s a huge inconvenience. Plus, your call quality suffers when using your broadband connection on the computer. Nowhere does MagicJack claim that it assures its customers of high-quality connection/audio for calls made through it. Many users complain that it takes five or more dial attempts to get a call connected and that calls often drop after a few minutes.

Since MagicJack US calls are practically free, you can expect the company to try to earn through other means. You just can’t ignore how they try to do it. When you’re online with your MagicJack, you are bombarded with ads. Worse, your calls are mined and analyzed to feed you with targeted ads. So, if you call your doctor’s office often, you can expect a lot of meds ads on your computer. Not only is this irritating, it’s plain intrusive.

In all, MagicJack doesn’t seem so great. You need to be logged in on your computer all the time. You have to dial over and over. You’ve got the ads. And, you’ve lost your calls’ privacy.

Where There’s Real Savings In VoIP

For consumers and those interested in reselling VoIP services, real savings don’t always come with the lowest price. You’d find that several good wholesale VoIP service providers, and consumer VoIP service providers, offer their services at mid or high price ranges. Those that offer at higher rates will often add “perks” to their services, such as package flexibility and easy-to-use interfaces. (But even so, these prices are still relatively lower than traditional phone companies’.)

For consumers, the trick is to do your homework before getting on board with one VoIP service provider. Search online for user reviews – there are plenty. Call their representatives and ask to try the service. VoIP companies want to convert people to using digital phone services, so they are likely to provide trial periods or money-back guarantees for first-time customers. Lastly, have a checklist of what you want in a VoIP services provider. Customer expectations and needs differ. Sometimes, free services (or even just the MagicJack) are suitable. Other times, you’d want something more – perhaps, a real replacement for your traditional phone. This is where the better or best VoIP services come in. It is very true in the VoIP industry that you get what you pay for.

For those interested in reselling VoIP services, getting your homework done is also a prerequisite. You should have, at least, an intermediate understanding of the technology behind the business. This way, you know what’s important and why VoIP reseller services are priced as such. Much in the same manner as the consumer’s experience, the better or best VoIP services don’t always come with rock-bottom prices. In this case, it’s a matter of how you eventually market the services. Good customers know that quality comes at a price. The best VoIP services will give you VoIP packages worth selling to discerning customers.

Matt Larson writes for the VoIP industry. He is currently associated with Alliance Solutions and SIP Phone Report.

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