This blog contains some simple tips and advice from two regular guys. We're not accountants, financial advisors, or brokers, so follow, ignore, or discuss our ideas as you see fit.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Free phone calls (almost)

Posted by Matt

This should be a quick tip, and I have to give my wife credit for discovering it. I think she said she heard about it from Clark Howard's radio show, which apparently has pearls like this all the time.

The tip is to use something called the "Magic Jack" to obtain "free" phone service. This is a device that plugs into a USB port on your computer and also has a port to plug in a plain old telephone line (or POTS line; yes, there is actually an acronym for this!)

You can use almost any kind of phone that you would ordinarily plug into the wall with the little plastic square jack (aka RJ-11), with the difference being that you don't pay for telephone service; not even long distance! The only charges I could find were the initial cost for the tiny device ($39.95) and $19.95 to continue the service for an additional year after the first year is up. The site didn't seem to contain any information about what would happen in year three, but it did have a small tag indicating that this is still a beta product (albeit beta 4.0). In other words, it is still in the last stages of testing.

Even if the company providing the service doesn't last past the first year, I see a great opportunity for savings here if you make a lot of long distance calls on your home phone line, or even if you are paying a significant monthly fee for local service. This only applies if you already have Internet service (which is used to carry the phone signal) and don't figure the cost of that in.
I'm not going to order one just yet, as my wife and I use only our cell phones (like Paul). But I'm starting to have more and more long teleconferences from home, so I'll remember this if I start exceeding the minutes in my cell phone plan.
If anyone else orders one of these, please share your experience!

1 comment:

Leah in Oregon said...

Yes, I did hear about this on Clark Howard's radio show. He says he's been using it for about 6 months and has no complaints. He originally found it when, after advising his listeners to ditch thier land lines and go all-cellular, people began calling him to say that after disasters like 9/11 and Hurrican Katrina, cellular phones didn't work, and people were forced to use their land lines if they had them.