Sunday, October 12, 2008

MagicJack

I've had a MagicJack for a few weeks. The idea of the product is that it plugs into your USB port turning it into a phone jack. When I first installed it it was pretty much that. I slight install time and even though it said could be hours before I had a phone number, I had one right away.

You can pick a number from various places in the United States, even if you don't live there. This could save on long distance charges if you have a large group of family that needed to call you from there. Although I think you could do the same thing with Google Grand Central. Plus with Google Grand Central you could have your local phone number, which is what Grand Central is forwarding the call to.

Quality
I found the quality to be livable, but much like what I have experienced with my cell phone. There is often a half second delay in talking and being heard. Occasionally there are also lost packets, so you once in a while miss a word.

Application that Runs on Your Computer
In order for Magic Jack to work it runs a program on your computer. The application has some useful features like address book and a list of placed and received calls. The problem I have with it is that it pops to the front every time a call is received or someone on our end starts dialing. The popping up wouldn't be so bad if it didn't take keyboard focus when it pops up. I can be typing and all of a sudden I realize the last five words ended up in the Magic Jack window.

What would be more convenient would be for the Magic Jack to be able to plug directly into my router. Then it would not be impacted by other things running on my system, I wouldn't have to keep a computer on 24/7, and it would be a direct line to the router without having a middle man (my computer) to get in the way.

You could still have desktop features. A desktop application running on a host machine or even a web application could allow users to maintain their address book or whatever else is stored on the device.

No Caller Id
They advertise Caller Id, but I have yet to see it work on anything other than numbers I have set up in my address book where I have manually typed a name.

Service Down
After a couple of weeks of using it and convincing one of my cube mates to get it and making others strongly consider it we hit a snag. I check every morning that the service is running for my wife before I leave for work and that I haven't left a download going that would get int he way of the service. This morning I found that it was sitting in error 400. I rebooted thinking that something choked in Windows, but the problem persisted. This was very concerning since we had just taking our son to cub scout camp and gave the MagicJack phone number as the emergency contact number.

When I got to work remoted into my home machine and tried MagicJack's fix it tool. It reported that everything on my machine should be fine that I could connect to their server, but MagicJack was still not working. I searched and searched before that for a way to contact someone. At the end of the fix it I finally found that I could chat with someone via text online, but could not find a voice number.

I chatted with someone who had me check that the thing was plugged in. Annoying, but you have to ask. They then had me change my Primary DNS server address to one they gave me. I didn't care for that. I should not have to change my DNS server to work with their service. When I changed it I was dumped out of the chat. I tried pinging the address they gave me and it did not work. I set everything back up the way it had been previously and got onto chat again. I got a different person this time. They moved me to tier two support, but siad tier 2 would email me. I waited and got no response. My friend, who also has a MagicJack, called his number and got a number has been disconnected message. I called my number and got the same. That really concerned me, since I was at least counting on having a person be able to call and send me a voicemail that I could see in my email. Plus I could've sworn that one of the features of MagicJack was being able to receive voice mail even if you computer was off.

I got back on the chat with severe frustration. The person had me disable antivirus and firewall software, which leaves me open to attack and which had worked fine yesterday the way it was set up. They then tried to get me to open ports in my router. I begged them to tell me why this was necessary, since it worked with the same settings yesterday. I asked if they had updated the software to need a different port. I could not get them to answer my question. Below I have included the exchange we had. Note that it took an hour to have this interchange.

Chat Information You are now chatting with 'Maggie'

Maggie: Hello, how may I help you?

Brook: I chatted with a couple of people earlier about my service being down. I have now found that when people call my phone they get the message that my number has been disconnected.

Brook: My son is at camp today and we gave this number as our emergency contact number

Brook: What is going on?

Maggie: Please wait while I check that for you

Maggie: May I know if you are able to make calls?

Brook: No we cannot make calls

Brook: I have a friend in townt hat just got a MagicJack and his number is getting the same message.

Brook: It tells his callers that his number is also disconnected

Maggie: May I have the magicjack phone # please?

Brook: ###-###-####

Maggie: Please wait while I check that for you

Maggie: Please click the link to download and run the magicJack upgrade (applicable for both XP & Vista):

Maggie: http://upgrades.magicjack.com/upgrade/upgrade.exe

Brook: Shouldn't people get my voice mail instead of a disconnected message, even if my software isn't up to date or even running for that matter?

Brook: Still getting the error 400 after the upgrade.

Maggie: One moment please...

Brook: Still getting the disconnected message when I call the number

Maggie: Please disable the firewall and antivirus for now.

Brook: Already did all that

Maggie: Please check if your system clock is correct. Please disable any antivirus that may be running on your system and try again. If you are behind a network/external firewall or router, please open the following ports: magicJack uses ports UDP 5060 to 5070, TCP 80 and TCP 443. Go to control panel then click on Network connections. In there right click on your wireless connection and select properties, scroll down to Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) click it the click on properties. In there check the little circle that says use the following DNS Server address. In preffered DNS Address write in: 67.106.133.212 then click ok, and ok. Now restart your magicJack.

Brook: People should still be able to call my number even if my software is not connecting or running.

Brook: My friend is having the same problem

Brook: We both worked fine yesterday

Brook: Is there a problem with your network in this area?

Brook: I changed the DNS server earlier today to that DNS server

Brook: It then killed my internet connection

Maggie: If you are behind a network/external firewall or router, please open the following ports: magicJack uses ports UDP 5060 to 5070, TCP 80 and TCP 443.

Brook: Why are people getting a number disconnected message when they call my phone. I was told that people can call my number even if my computer is off.

Brook: Is this not correct?

Maggie: Yes, people can call you if your PC is off, if you have activated call forwarding service

Brook: Was there an upgrade that would've changed something with MagicJack that makes it necessary to change my router configuration?

Brook: I am not at home right now to be able to do that

Maggie: Please contact us when you will be available at the PC

Brook: Was there an upgrade that would've changed something with MagicJack that makes it necessary to change my router configuration?

Brook: It worked yesterday

Brook: My friend's MagicJack worked yesterday

Brook: today we both are down and are at different locations

Maggie: We cannot say anything at that time, please contact us again when you will be there

Brook: Why can you not answer my question?

Brook: Who do I contact for a refund?

Maggie: May I know if the ports are open UDP 5060 to 5070, TCP 80 and TCP 443.?

Brook: Why can you not answer my question?

Brook: Was there an upgrade that would've changed something with MagicJack that makes it necessary to change my router configuration?

Maggie: No, there are no such upgrades to change the router settings. You need to change it manually

Brook: That is not what I asked

Brook: I asked if MagicJack had an upgrade that changed the ports that it needs to use.

Brook: Which now makes it necessary for me to change my firewall

Maggie: No, we don't have any upgrades to change the ports

Brook: Then since my router is configured the same as it was yesterday, as is my friends we should not have to change anything today to make it work.

Brook: Are you having a problem with your system?

Brook: May I talk to someone in tier two support?

Maggie: Thank you for your patience. I will transfer you to a higher level of support. Please hold while I transfer you.

Chat InformationPlease wait while I transfer the chat to the best suited site operator.

Chat InformationYou are now chatting with 'Jeanille'

Jeanille: Hi Brook!

Brook: hello

Brook: When people call my phone they are getting a message stating that my number has been disconnected

Jeanille: We are doing some upgrades, our engineers are working to get them completed as fast as possible. We apologize for the inconvenience and appreciate your patience.

Brook: My friend's phone is also receiving that message

Jeanille: Please do try to make a call within a couple of hour.

Brook: Could you notify your tier 1 support of that so they don't waste people's times reconfiguring and breaking their routers and systems?

Brook: My experience of the last hour or so with them has been very frustrating

Jeanille: I apologize for the inconvenience Brook. Yes we will notify them. I am really very sorry.

Brook: A novice user would not be able to do what they were asking me to do.

Brook: My son is away from us and we gave our MagicJack number as an emergency contact number.

Brook: If there is a problem they have no way to contact us.

Jeanille: I understand you Brook. We are working on it and it will be fixed as soon as possible. Please do try to place a call within a couple of hour.

Brook: Was there an email sent out to notify us that the network would be down for hours?

Jeanille: No Brook since this will be fixed within a couple of hour.

Brook: This is my primary phone number. Being down for a couple of hours is a huge problem.

Jeanille: I know Brook, but engineers are working on it now as fast as they can.

Brook: Thank you for your help. Do you have a contact number for someone that can refund our money. My wife and I will be discussing what happened with your service and may decide we can not risk having your service.

Jeanille: We are able to refund you Brook. What you need to do is to send back the unit to us.

Brook: Send it back at my expense?

Jeanille: Yes Brook and you need to fill out an RMA form to get an RMA number.

Jeanille: Please click the link below

Jeanille: http://my.magicjack.com/returns.html

Jeanille: Is there anything else I may help you with today?

Brook: Will they also refund the cost of shipping to return it to you?

Jeanille: No Brook.

Jeanille: We will only refund you the total amount that was deducted in your account.

Brook: Thank you for your help.

Device Down
After this incident I have found several times that the Magic Jack has stopped giving a dial tone or various things. So far the solution they have given me is to plug it into a different USB jack. It has worked so far, so every so often I have to pull the device out of one USB jack and plug it into another.

No Phone Support
It appears that there is no way to get a person on the phone when you have problems.

Web Site
There web site appears to be little more than an big advertisement. There doesn't appear to be anything about new features that are coming and there is very limited tech support information.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Read with interest! Just purchased an MJ and getting the 400 error right off the bat. Their customer chat has now been disabled on their website and they only offer a limited FAQ. No phone number to call, no email address, nada. Just endless advertising. I'm beginning to think this is a scam

Matt said...

Just to provide the other side of the coin, I've been running Magic Jack for half a year now. I've had two very minor problems and they were easily fixed. I completely agree with the incompetent support staff, luckily at www.magicjacksupport.com you can pretty much find anything you need.

I've been very happy with my service.