Does cheap have to suck?

Like everybody else, I like a good deal. And like everybody else, or at least everybody I know, I no longer have much use for a landline.

In fact, I wouldn’t even have a landline if it weren’t because of my apartment building buzzer. But in Toronto, unlike most places I’ve been to, apartment buildings require tenants to activate either a landline or a cell phone number with the landlord. Why no one ever thought of setting up a simple intercom system is beyond me. That, however, is a different rant.

So, like the cheap bastard I can be, I switched from Vonage ($19.95 per month) to MagicJack ($20 per year). They’re both well-known VOIP  providers, so it was a no brainer, right?

To make a long story short, here’s the email I had to send today to Dan Barislow, MagicJack’s founder.

“Hi Dan,

Complaint number one: in your site you promise to have phone number port-ins available. If I remember correctly, this feature was going to be implemented by summer this year. This was my final motivation for buying my MagicJack. Except phone number port-ins are NOT available yet.

Complaint number two: I had to follow especial instructions given in a Mac forum to activate my MagicJack. Regular out-of-the-box installation did not work.

Complaint number three: I have to follow the same instructions every time my Mac wakes up in the morning. These instructions involve unplugging the MagicJack, plugging it again, and running commands on my terminal. Very annoying, not to mention time consuming. Your tech support on this has been useless.

Complaint number four: Now I discovered no Canadian users are able to call toll-free numbers. This is very important. I call a few of these every month. Why was I not warned about this when I paid $10 to get a Canadian number?

All these complaints have taken place in two weeks of MagicJack use. Two weeks.

What do you propose to do about this, Dan?


Alain Latour”

I’ll keep you posted.

Note: Is it a stretch to include this post in my “Examples of Bad Design” category? After all, the process MagicJack customers have to go throw to install software and contact tech support is far from ideal.

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