Sunday, December 30, 2012

Why MagicJack Plus sucks

Last week my wife and I bought a MagicJack Plus, which promises to give you telephone service without a computer and without a phone bill. Big letters on the front of the package: "NEVER PAY A PHONE BILL AGAIN."

Well, if all you want to do is make local outbound calls, and never get inbound calls, AND never be able to have inbound calls sent to voicemail, it will be fine. Maybe.

So far today I have spent about 3 hours attempting to troubleshoot the problem. If the MagicJack Plus device is disconnected, I can get voicemail. If it's connected to my computer, sometimes I can get inbound calls, and sometime I just get a single "beep" and an immediate disconnect. And when it's connected directly to my router, sometimes I get a "beep" and sometimes I don't, but the phone doesn't ring, and I don't get voicemail. Outbound calls seems to be fine, but so what?

I spent the first 2 hours in chat with their "support" technicians at; they don't grasp basic English very well, and they don't elevate the call until they have exhausted their scripts. After I got the call elevated, went down and left me without a resolution. Spent another hour attempting various proposed solutions I found on the Internet, but without any luck.

So, take this as a warning: MagicJack Plus does not perform as advertised; they have no tehnical support; and any company using as "support" does not give a rat's patoot about supporting their customers.


It has now been several (more) hours, and I have finally, successfully got this goldurn thing working.

I tried connecting it to my server, but that didn't work. Uninstalled the software from my PC, rebooted, reinstalled. That didn't work, exactly. But it gave me an idea.

I took my phone with me out to the garage, where my Internet router lives. Hooked up the MagicJack Plus to the router, that phone only, and to the power dongle.


So, clearly, the problem is either the telco's lines still physically connected through their demarc (and if you don't know what that means, don't even think of trying this yourself), or one or more of the phones in the house loading the line excessively. So, step 1: Cut the line at my own personal demarc, where all the house phone jacks interface with each other.

No joy. OK, step 2: Disconnect all the phones but one from the wall jacks and try again. Luckily, the one I've been carrying around (a relatively-new Uniden) works when plugged into one of the jacks.

Step 3: Start plugging the other phones back in, one at a time, and trying to call in. Well, my wife's office line is dead; apparently when the alarm company (whom I fired over a year ago) tapped into my phone block, the did it by splicing into an existing line, which is now cut. I'll fix that tomorrow; I need to drop another jack into the bedroom anyhow. So, eventually I find the culprit: An older GE phone on the wall in the kitchen. That biotch is GONE, baby!

I still blame MagicJack "support" for this fiasco; did it never occur to anyone there that most people have more than one phone in their homes? I'm a computer network technician, not a phone tech; only my very old memories of my Dad's stories about old phones "breaking" customers' services helped me out here. Dad's been gone for... Let's see; forty-six years. I told you these were old memories.

Bottom line: I got it working and I'll keep the service but I am still

Mad as Hell

about the lousy "support."


  1. I bet it was pretty cheap, though!

    I am both a computer technician and, thanks to VOIP, our organization's 'phone guy'. I love Vonage, but the idea of never paying a phone bill again is pretty attractive. I might just look into it.

    1. Oh, and as for "cheap" it was around $60 for the MJ+ device, which includes the first year of service, and $20 to port the existing phone number over. Then it's $10/yr to keep the phone number and $20 for service annually.

  2. Experimentation (and two new phones, both of which together cost less than 1 month of Frontier's phone service) shows that the MagicJack Plus supports a maximum of 3 instruments on the line. It's possible that it might handle more if the Frontier demarc were actually cut off, but I'm not even sure where that is. The wires I cut previously were from the alarm company (who kludged together a truly ugly arrangement using my existing lines and some crimp-slices).