Need CHEAP, Reliable Phone Service. Suggestions? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 12 Old 06-29-2011, 03:47 PM - Thread Starter
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Ever since our state passed a law deregulating our phone company, they have been getting away with every possible shenanigan.  Employees lie through their teeth to get me to sign up for different things, and it takes forever to settle disputes and get credited.  And this is just for the land line!  I've had even worse experiences when we carried a cell phone through T-Mobile.  As a result of all of these unfortunate experiences, I have a pretty low regard for the telecom industry. irked.gif  They seem to operate with little accountability and in a way that leaves consumers helpless.  But........I do need some sort of phone. 


Here are my goals:


1. ONE source of telecom service (i.e. no need for both a land line AND cell phone)


2. Nothing fancy.  No "smart phones," Blackberries, online access...not even texting.  I just want to be able to call people, receive calls, and retrieve voicemail messages.  I don't even want call waiting or caller ID, but you're usually stuck with those...I was actually considering one of these bad boys, which they market to the elderly. lol.gif 


3. CHEAP, CHEAP, CHEAP!  As cheap as we can go while still getting decent quality and service.  Right now, we have a package that bundles our phone and Internet.  So if we change to something else, it should offer such a package.  Otherwise, it shouldn't cost us more to get phone service from one place and Internet service from another.  This can be tricky...


4 .No contracts.  My continued loyalty must be earned, not forced. 


What are my options and alternatives?  Specifically... 


1. Do any of you have direct experience with Vonage, Skype, Magic Jack, or Ooma?  If so, are you happy with it?  Are there any privacy concerns I should be aware of (I've heard some complaints about Magic Jack, especially, in this area)?  Are they pretty stable and transparent with the price, or do they ding you with small print, extra fees, taxes, sudden price hikes.....?


2. Do you have a cell phone company/plan that you're satisfied with?  Are there any contract-free plans that you know of?


(I'm less keen on a cell phone due to radiation concerns and the fact that experience with cell phone companies varies vastly by each individual.  For every person happy with Company X, you'll find someone who had a bad experience with them).


3. Have any of you tried the non-profit cell phone companies?  These people, for example?  Thoughts?

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#2 of 12 Old 06-29-2011, 05:57 PM
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Skype - fantastic.  My friend calls my cell with skype from Europe.  I don't know how much it costs home to do this though.


cell phone....if you are not going to use it much we have been happy with tracphone.  Splurge, get the year service and doubling card.  This will save you a load.  I let my minutes run out and had a terrible time getting it working.  Their customer service was excellent.  They guy spent over an hour on the phone with me helping me make it work.  The down side, if you lose it, you lose everything.  You can't roll over your minutes or doubling code.  We just lost ours.  *&%^$# !


My friend had a walmart phone and used their pre paid plan.  If I did not have a discount through work I would totally use that.  Cheap and a ton of minutes including data for only $30 a month.


I have never used it but heard amazing things about magic jack.  


I have used vonage and hated it.  Their customer service sucked.


Otherwise I cut the land line a long time ago.


I do pay a lot for internet.  I think it is about $45 a month.   There is no way around it though.


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#3 of 12 Old 06-29-2011, 06:13 PM
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We also have a tracfone and like it well enough.  We don't do a monthly plan.  I just bought a year of service and the doubling card and minutes.  I spend about $100/year.  I have a land line too that I want to get rid of (I think) because it is too $$$ imo. 



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#4 of 12 Old 06-30-2011, 08:09 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks.  I'll look into Tracfone. 


One other thing I should mention is that for phone and Internet I pay $75-80 per month.  Something cheaper than that would be great! 

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#5 of 12 Old 06-30-2011, 10:22 PM
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I have a no contract plan with t-mobile. I pay $30 (about $32 with tax) for 1500 minutes and/or texts a month. I get a very small amount of data time that I use if I am lost or need a phone number or something. I have set up so my checking account is charged automatically. You buy your own phone so it's as basic or as  fancy as you want.


We use skype when my husband travels for video calls with the kids. Actually, my son sometimes skypes my husband at work. We've had good luck with it, though we haven't used it often.

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#6 of 12 Old 07-01-2011, 12:46 AM
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dh and dd have the straight talk phones from walmart which honestly are great. you can get a fancy phone if you want or just a cheap phone. i have a tracphone and hardly ever use it. the minutes are really pricey. i only have it if a problem happens while i am out with the kids. 1 hour is like $20.00. the straight talk phones you can get 1000 minutes/1000 text for $30.00 or unlimited talk and text for $45.00 no contract you can cancel any time if you can't afford it one month you just don't get another card.





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#7 of 12 Old 07-01-2011, 12:51 AM
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I had boost mobile and its 10 cents a minute, no contract. I ended up paying about $20/month so I went ahead and changed to virgin mobile which is $25 a month, no contract 150 minutes and unlimited texting and internet/data


I got both my phones off of ebay for half the price or less.

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#8 of 12 Old 07-09-2011, 07:56 PM
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Not sure how relevant this will be as we're in Canada.  But for a while we had just a land line that included local calls only through Telus (about 25-30$/month basic local calls) and bought pre-paid long distance phone cards where you dial an 800 number and it cost something really cheap like 2 or 3 cents/minute.  We spent maybe 5-10$ on long distance per month without having all those silly extra long distance plan administration fees (just had to remember to use the calling card for long distance).  


My cell phone is through Telus and I'm on the absolute cheapest plan available called "pay and talk".  I must top up 10$/month to keep my phone number and it costs 40 cents per minute for local calls.  I don't text.   However, I don't actually use it often - it's basically for emergencies and convenience so I always have a way to communicate easily.  I always check my cell phone voicemail messages from a landline so I don't have to pay any minute charges.  And I don't generally have my cell phone turned on all the time - so I don't end up paying for someone's wrong number if they call me by accident.  If someone really needs to get in touch with me they can leave a message (except when I'm away from my kids, babysitter, which case I leave it turned on).  I don't like using a cell phone for radiation reasons anyway so I wanted the cheapest possible option and "pay and talk per minute" was it.


So all and all, by being "organized", we were able to have a cell phone, land line and long distance "plan" (lack of better word) for less than $50/month.  

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#9 of 12 Old 07-11-2011, 06:19 PM
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We use Skype as our "home" number, I have tracfone (which I hardly use) and DH has Virgin.  Skype is BY FAR the cheapest and easiest.   I pay $3 a month for unlimited minutes to phones, and then every few months to keep my phone number to receive calls from phones.  I just looked on Skype's site, and it looks like the online number is $18 every three months.  The only problem I have with Skype is my mom has a hard time hearing on the phone to begin with, and sometimes the quality can be a little fuzzy.  We would have high speed internet anyway, so I don't count that in as a cost.


Tracfone is really nice for me to have while out and about.  Virgin is certainly cheaper, they've been super easy to work with, the only reason we would ever change is because by DH is just DYING to use his T Mobile smartphone again.  If that ever happens I'd take the Virgin phone and not bother with tracfone anymore.

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#10 of 12 Old 07-18-2011, 06:04 PM
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DH and I use cell phones for 99% of our calls. I bought a Magic Jack a few months ago to use in case we needed to call customer service (where we'd be on hold for a long time) or to use our fax machine. The Magic Jack unit itself retails for $40. It costs $20 a year for the service (prepaid). There was some kind of deal to get 5 years for $75 (or something like that), and I figured for what I had been paying for 2 months of regular home phone service that I barely used, I'd take a gamble on getting 5 years for that price.


You do need high speed internet to use the Magic Jack. It plugs into the USB port of your computer. It takes about a minute to connect and to be able to make phone calls. I think that you can only get phone calls coming into your Magic Jack when your computer is on and active. (I think... we barely use ours, and nobody has our number. Not sure if it works when the screen saver is on or not. Their FAQ online or a google search should give you more info.) Oh, and your number won't be listed in any phone books or directories. As of right now (or at least April 2011 when we got ours), you can't port your old phone number to your new Magic Jack.


There is digital voice mail, and I got an email once saying that I had one. I didn't bother checking it since I figured it was a telemarketer.


The nice thing about Magic Jack is that its small (a bit bigger than a package of dental floss) and that you can bring it with you on vacation or business trips and still receive calls, as long as you have an internet connection.

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#11 of 12 Old 07-19-2011, 05:13 AM
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We just signed up with Verizon for their wireless phone service. There is a device you plug into the wall, and then your land line plugs into it. If you go on vacation, you COULD bring the device and still receive your phone calls (don't know why you'd do that though lol). It's $20/mo for unlimited local and long distance as well as caller ID and Voicemail. It's a new service - no idea what the bugs are.  I believe we had to sign a 2 yr contract (dh set it up, so I'm not 100% sure). Beats the $60/mo the phone company charges us!

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#12 of 12 Old 07-19-2011, 05:39 AM
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Do you or DH work for companies that offer partner programs? I get our phone with an employee discount. We do have a contract since it's cheaper though, the no-contract ones are much more expensive as far as I can tell, but my discount is on all products/services so I *could* do no-contract. I didn't know about the partner programs (the company I work for has NOTHING to do with cell phones so it wouldn't have occurred to me!) but was glad I discovered it & figured I'd mention it in case you hadn't thought of it!

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