While my businesses were still in their planning stages, I became concerned about my ability to have a phone line that would be dedicated to business activities. I had looked into some of the inexpensive cell phone companies like Metro PCS and Cricket, but even their low monthly rates were too high for my extra tight start-up budget. Nonetheless, I knew I needed to market myself.
In my ministerial and academic careers, I learned to use my cell phone as my primary contact for business-related correspondence. However, I didn’t want to use my cell phone number for these businesses because I wanted the ability to turn off my business phone after business hours. After all, my cell phone is also my primary means of communication with friends and family. I also considered using my landline phone for business-related correspondence, but I decided against it because I knew that my businesses would only be home-based temporarily.
As I researched my options, I came across the magicJack website. I was familiar with the product because I had seen commercials about it several times. Upon further investigation, I decided that magicJack’s portable nature would make it a good option for me. I could use it for now in my apartment and then bring it to my office location whenever I finally secure one. I invested in a magicJack plus because I liked the idea that I could use it without having it connected to my computer all the time. It seemed like a perfect fit though I acknowledged that its need for an existing internet connection actually made it much more expensive than its advertised yearly price. Unfortunately, things are not always as they seem.
Today, I had to attend a conference call for one of my nonprofit board appointments. I decided that now would be as good of a time as any to use my business-dedicated line, which hasn’t received much attention since I installed it a few weeks ago. When I called the number for my conference call, I was shocked to hear that magicJack had played a recording requesting that I prepay for minutes in order to use this feature. I had been attending conference calls through FreeConference.com for years and I had never had this problem occur before.
In the end, I made the call on my landline, but I decided to search on Google to see if anybody else had experienced this problem with connecting magicJack to FreeConference.com. Sure enough, it’s a pretty common issue. magicJack has blocked FreeConference.com and many other Free Conference Call services due to high fees associated with some of their local exchanges. Some people had even filed with the FCC about this issue. I found a very helpful entry in Ricky Spears’ Blog that detailed how difficult it actually is in order to get Magic Jack’s corporate office to acknowledge just how troublesome this practice is for customers. It has apparently been happening since 2009.
Needless to say, I was annoyed. Free Conference Call services are a pretty integral part of my professional life. My nonprofit board appointments all use these services in order to bring together board members from all over the country on a biweekly or quarterly basis. Thankfully, I still have my landline and cell phone, which I will have to use to supplement magicJack’s limited abilities until my businesses bring in enough money for me to invest in a better phone service.