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Home phone, landline versus Magioc Jack?

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

DH is dying to drop the home phone since we all have cells. I resist because
- you always know where the home phone is
- people know our home phone number
- relatives might be more reluctant to have to call one or another cell number than just call the house number and know that more than one person might be able to answer
-keeping the cell phone at hand all the time

Has anyone tried the Magic Jack thing? Or have you gone "all cell phone" and how do you like it?

Delray Beach, FL(Zone 10a)

Ah yes, those pesky phone bills. What follows is a consumer's opinion. I receive no compensation whatsoever from anyone for stating my opinion here.

When we moved to Florida, my wife missed her sisters in Canada. She would call both of them a few times a day, every day. We got phone bills that were seriously threatening to bankrupt us. Then, we saw an ad on TV for Vonage. We got Vonage, a Vonage modem and a high speed internet line. At that time, Vonage offered unlimited calling to the U.S., Canada, Alaska, Hawai'i, Porto Rico and Guam free of charge, unlimited. At $24.95/month, it was a deal and we still feel that way 5 1/2 years later. With time, the service now covers 60 countries. It still costs $24.95/month. It's a great deal. My wife calls her brother in Norway as if he lived across the street.

We have also tried the Magic Jack device. I found that it dramatically slowed down my computer. They now have a Magic Jack that you plug directly into an electrical outlet; no computer needed. With both those solutions, if your internet is down, you don't have a phone anymore. However, Vonage will automatically redirect your call to your cell phone if it detects that your modem is not active. We don't lose internet service that often, but it does happen and the transfer never fails.

Take care.

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

Technically speaking I'm not "all cell phone" because I have a house alarm that requires a landline phone to be connected to it. But I will say in 6 yrs of living here (plus 4 at my last house where I also only had the landline because of the alarm), I have only made 1 call from my home phone (911 call when one of the guys installing my granite countertops sliced his finger with the saw). I probably could have used the cell for that too but this was several years ago when I'm not sure 911 had good location-based info on cell phones.

For your concerns...
--I think with the prevalence of cell phones today (and even with fancier landline phones that you program numbers into speed dial), fewer and fewer people actually know anyone's phone number so I wouldn't worry too much about that unless you have a lot of older relatives who get easily confused, and even then you can help them by programming your cell # into their speed dial for them
--While there will likely be a little adjustment period, I suspect people will fairly quickly get used to the idea of trying a couple cell #'s if they really need to get in touch with your family (and honestly, if someone really needs to get in touch with you that badly, a cell phone gives them a better chance than landline because you can have it with you even if you're not at home).
--I wouldn't worry about keeping the cell handy at all times--your landline phone isn't handy at all times and sometimes people have to leave messages on it, so cell phone can work the same way. I think because they're portable people may assume that you would have it with you and be able to answer it 24-7 but there's nothing wrong with missing a call occasionally and someone having to leave a message.

For me it would come down to reliability of cell phone service--out here although we have good coverage in general, because of all the hills & valleys there are some areas that get pretty spotty cell phone coverage, so if I lived in one of those areas then I wouldn't consider getting rid of the landline. But assuming that's not a problem in your area I think you could go landline-free and do just fine.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Sally, I had a MagicJack a few years ago. I gave it away because of poor reception but that turned out to be a problem with the phone, not the MagicJack. sigh

It works whether the computer is on or not (mine plugged into a USB port), and records messages if no one answers. Big deal for the small cost per year! (Mine was several years ago and didn't FWD to a cell phone like Sylvain's.)

Today, MagicJack can be assigned the same phone number as your current house phone, so no one knows you've changed providers.

I had Vonage for a while, but had problems with clarity (even with a new, good handset), and of course, no service in a power outage.

I'd have just my cell if we got any reception at home, and a cheap MagicJack for convenience.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Thanks so much for honest feedback!

It seems pretty dumb for us to continue the charges for our 'home' phone with the little benefit. We have a family cell phone plan so long distance is done with cell.

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Yep... and now I'm convinced to cancel all our yellow page advertising. It is a moot point when most folks don't even have land lines any longer.

As I watched our local (and the neighboring communities) directories grow smaller, I have been deliberating on this.

Now, what should I do with all that money I'll save. Kristi

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Buy plants of course!

I know that one time using the directory, it still had places that were old if you cancel you just might still be listed

Virginia Beach, VA

Our daughter and her husband cancelled land line as well as cable and they are saving tons of money. They have i-phone fore internet as well as several apple computers for news.
I still have land line as well as cable.


This message was edited Aug 1, 2012 2:20 PM

Delray Beach, FL(Zone 10a)

Basic cable is included in our HOA fees. 63 channels and nothing to watch, no matter what day or time you turn the idiot box on: nothing worth watching and nothing that won't insult your intelligence. Vonage is affordable, we always know how much it will cost. And we're good with that. When it comes to dish, cable, 4G, etc., we don't care because if you polish a moose dropping and apply gold leaf to it, it's still basically a moose dropping, but it is very decorative. As the nefarious Martha would say: It's a good thing.


Northeast, AR(Zone 7a)

I dropped my landline a couple of years ago. I had my cell phone number changed to the landline # I had had for decades, so everyone still has the phone # they've known me by forever. I honestly do not miss my landline at all. My cell phone has always worked for me and it's portable too. So now I just have the one bill instead of two. I rarely used my landline but I find that I use my cell phone quite a lot; it's really handy! I've even learned to text recently and I don't hate it like I thought I would. I'd still rather email on the computer, but I can text in a pinch. It seems everyone else prefers texting these days.


Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Good tip- I did not know you could move the number over.

(Tammie) Odessa, TX(Zone 7b)

If you look on your phone bill there is a "portability fee" .. that is what they have been charging everyone every month for a very long time just in case you change carriers and want to keep your same number. Most people are not aware that they have been paying for the priviledge of keeping their same number.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Gads, they get extra profit off us one way or another, don't they?

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)


springfield area, MO(Zone 5b)

Quote from darius :
Gads, they get extra profit off us one way or another, don't they?

I prefer to think of it as stealing. Selling you something without telling you what you are buying or giving you the option to decline and making it so confusing you just pay the bill not knowing otherwise. Translates to deceiving and stealing in my book.

I'd love to drop our landline but the cell mins are so expensive, plus half the time my phone isn't charged or I don't know where I put it. I always worry what would happen in an emergency, if I didn't have my landline I may not have a phone!

Delray Beach, FL(Zone 10a)

We just got a notice that our Vonage service is going up $1/month as of Sept. 24th. There was a lenghty explanation involving legalese language, but I didn't put myself through the mental contorsions of trying to understand it. I have read the Mahabarata and it was an easier read than that email. Vonage somehow claims the increase has something to do with the vituperative orbits of their main communication satellites encountering increased and repeated subatommic vicissitudes from a low orbit and the drag and coaxial dammage the higher atmosphere inflicts on said satellite's numerically controlled albedo attrition detector, or something of that nature. OK... so I may be making some of this up as I go along for effect. If you do understand some of that, please don't explain it to me.

Even at the increased price, it's still a good deal for us, so why sweat the small stuff?


mid central, FL(Zone 9a)

my partner has a hearing problem and the county here gives away free phones for the hearing impaired so we will be keeping our landline if for no other reason than this one. we each have a cell phone (i have go-phone and he has trac-phone). both of these are $100 a year each and we get 400 and sometimes more minutes each for the year. they roll over so we have enough minutes between us now to talk for years! LOL we only use our cells when we're traveling or in an emergency situation. we have frequent power outages due to trees falling on electrical and phone lines so that counts as an emergency.
our landline, internet and dish are bundled and it costs 159 per month. i'm pretty sure we're getting ripped off big time in one way or another but am still undecided what to do. i'm getting really sick of dish lately.
i am in the "fearful" camp....afraid of change i guess and afraid that if we switch to something else, our "stuff" won't work properly.
if i wasn't so mentally challenged by all the new products out today, i'd be a lot better off and be able to make a decision. i never thought of myself as dumb but the older i get, the dumber i feel........:-(

Northeast, AR(Zone 7a)

Track, if you add the "double minutes" option to your tracfone, you get 800 minutes when you buy 400. My brother and I both have double minute phones and we buy 1500 minutes for $200. So we get 3000 minutes. They now have a triple minute plan and I'll be switching to that soon. So if I pay for 1500, I'll get 4500. I gave up my landline and I'm beginning to use my cell phone a bit more.

I also have one of the free government phones so that's my backup phone. It goes thru Tracfone too so I can add tracfone minutes to it, should I ever need to. And I was able to use a phone I had here at home, which is identical to the Tracfone I use as my main phone, so I didn't have to learn a new system. I could even transfer my "Phone book" to a micro SD card and put that SD card in the government phone and install my phone book on that phone too, without having to retype it all. Wonderful!

My brother and I both love our tracfone service. I don't think I've ever been anywhere where I couldn't get service on it. It works in places that friends' phones won't work. Tracfone customer service is wonderful too. It's true that most of them are from a country other than the US, so sometimes it's a little hard to understand their accents, but they've always been very nice, helpful and efficient.

mid central, FL(Zone 9a)

i thought so! every time i renew partner's yearly minutes, he gets 800 instead of 400.
i've been happy with my go-phone and have never had it cut out anywhere. it's through at&t. i've never had to use customer service but it's good to know you are happy with your tracfones.
partner can't hear on it well but it does in a pinch when he's out of town...if he remembers to turn it on. :-)

i have to review the basics every time he leaves town....."no john, press this button to talk".............

Houston Heights, TX(Zone 9a)

I gave up my land line about 6 yrs ago and Ive not missed it. I did go thru a learning curve on keeping up with my phone and of course if Im upstairs it is downstairs! I keep it in my pocket if I have one. Ive drowned one by dropping it in my rain barrel and another by washing it in my jeans pocket in the laundry. I have a mental checklist that Ive taught myself the hard way. I had to learn how to be careful with it. The screen is very easy to break when dropped and "liquid damage" is almost always deadly. I'd recommend getting the insurance the first two years you own a cell. I have a new smart phone but I dont know how to use it yet.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Pockets are almost essential anymore due to cell phones.

Be a bit more careful with the smart phone. Just respect that it may not take dropping as well as an older tougher one. I recommend a rubbery type 'case' so it does not slip out of pockets easily. (Course it does not fit IN pockets as easily either but my slippery phone broke so I'm not going back to that)

I enjoy the calendar, alarms, and of course internet with my smart phone. Even without data plan, it is a great 'day planner' thing.

Northeast, AR(Zone 7a)

My phone cost me $20. Then I found someone on Craigslist selling two identical phones for $10 each so I bought them for backups. I won't spend a fortune on a phone. I just want something that makes calls and has the qwerty keyboard for texting and cheap phones will do that. I'd never use all the features on a smart phone so I don't spend the extra money for one. And Iphones? Forget it! I'd never pay $300 or $400 for a silly phone. LOL

I bought a phone case that clips to my waistband, so I can easily carry my phone with me everywhere. I don't know why everyone doesn't use one, but most people don't. A couple of coworkers oohed and aahed over my phone case last year when we were setting up for a charity event in this big building. I had my phone with me all the time. When they needed theirs, it was at the other end of the building. So for Christmas, I bought them both a phone case for their particular phones. But they've never used them!

One of the ladies is always dropping her phone--an Iphone--and has to get it repaired or get a new one frequently. I just can't waste that kind of money. I've always been careful with my phones and have never broken one yet. But if I do, I have a backup so I can call Tracfone and transfer the number and minutes immediately.

mid central, FL(Zone 9a)

i'm with you....totally old school but i want my phone to make calls...period. if i lived in a big city or still held a 9-5 then i'd probably have one with bells & whistles.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Butterfly chaser- very savvy cell user!

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

After my son in Charlotte recommended the Majic Jack and mentioned that my ex-husband also had it in Louisiana, I decided to try it. I didn't know that my reception would be so poor. I gave my new number to the school, my doctors, neighbors, etc. etc. etc. After trying it for about a month, I gave up on it. No one could hear my voice clearly and I couldn't hear their voice clearly. I brought my son over to tweek it. It didn't help. Someone was always saying, "HUH?" " What did you say?" There was so much static. It was so aggravating. I was glad when I got rid of it. Then I had to change the phone numbers to the people I gave the Majic Jack number to with a new landline number. That was a pain!!!


So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

MajicJack has poor reviews, but there are several good reviews of other VOIP's.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

thanks Karin for the user review, and Darius for the link.

Baytown, TX(Zone 9b)

I had Vonage for quite a few years without a problem unless internet was down. I switched to Magic Jack a little over a year ago. I do have more problems as far as it telling people the magic jack customer is not available (not sure why) but I would not go back to Vonage because of the cost. I have a cellphone with Sprint and use it 99% of the time. When I told Vonage I was leaving they offered me $9.99 a month for however long I have them. On disability or in this economy we all need to do what we can to lower our costs. I would do away with Magic jack but I have a renter who only gets 250 min on her cellphone and she uses it to keep in touch with her family. When renewal time comes not sure what I will do.

I suggest if you have Vonage or want to get it ask if they will do 9.99 a month for as long as you have it. The fees are what kill you not necessarily the monthly charges. It is worth asking.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

There are some good alternatives to MajicJack, Vonnage and other VOIP's available online.

Northeast, AR(Zone 7a)

If you're on a fixed income, like disability, social security, or if you get food stamps or work but have low income, you can qualify for a FREE (our favorite word) cell phone. Safelink (goes thru Tracfone) will give you 250 mins/month (no rollover). You get your phone in about two weeks after completing the app and sending in proof of income. Assurance Wireless (goes thru Verizon) will now give you 250 talk min and 250 text min per month (with no rollover). With Assurance, you can buy 500 extra min per month for $5 or something like that. With Safelink, if you need more minutes, you can add tracfone cards.

If anyone here qualifies for one of these free phones and minutes, I'd suggest getting it. It's good as a backup in case your regular cellphone gets lost, broken or the battery dies.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Update: after much gnashing of teeth, my sis finally agreed to changing our 2 home landlines. I spent almost 2 days researching, and have just ordered an Ooma home telephone system from Amazon. It was $149.99 and will support 2 separate phone numbers, unlimited calls (although foreign calls are limited before there's a charge). It will pay for itself in 3 months.

The only fees thereafter are <$5/month for the Feds, no other annual or monthly fees unless we want their Premier service which is stuff like 3 way calling, call waiting.... and it's $10/month.

Edited because part of my post was missing!

This message was edited Dec 5, 2012 8:26 AM

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

For us, would pay for itself in 4- 5 months. Hope you're happy with it.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Pooh, part of my post above is missing, and when I edited it just now, it's STILL missing.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)


suburban K.C., MO(Zone 6a)

We have had Magicjack since March 2010 and it has been a great money saver. The unlimited incoming and outgoing calls and unlimited free domestic long distance (and Mexico and Canada I think) is a no brainer alternative to a landline. I think the poor receptions are exceptions, Magicjack wouldn't be in business if you couldn't hear the calls, we hear it fine. One needs to be fairly computer literate to have a VOIP phone of any brand.
Just my 2 cents!

(Zone 5a)

A little late, but we will be holding on to our landline as long as it's available. The only drawback is our phone company sold our exchange to someone else and we lost our unlimited long distance. We are rural, so very few calls are considered local. Since the new company took over, it seems the problems we used to have are not as frequent. We'd pick up the phone after two rings, but the caller would say it was ringing on their end 6 or more times. Static, being cut off, etc. So that I am grateful for.

About Magic Jack... my husband bought one a month or so after the change in phone companies since he works from home and has a lot of phone meetings. This freed up the home phone, but it is basically an internet phone and he's had nothing but trouble with it. Most often the people he calls cannot hear him and with extra long meetings, Magic Jack cuts off the call after two hours. Something about excessive use.

Are we the only ones left in the US that do not have a cell phone? We have no intention of getting one.

(Terri ) South Bosto, VA(Zone 7a)

I have had magic jack for 7 or 8 years now and have never had a problem with it. I now have the one that doesn't require a computer. Since I also have a computer phone I find that most problems are ISP related, especially since we are on extended DSL with our phone company

waukesha, WI(Zone 5a)

Google has a phone service,but I haven't used it. I get the really cheap Tracfone, a multifunction LG cell phone costs about $50.I buy 400 minutes for whatever the current priceis for a year of minutes, and they always triple it, and I don't even use them all. What you don't use, rolls over the next time you buy so I now have in excess of 3000 minutes. You can call long distance too. I've never had a dropped call except inside big box buildings. We've kept our landline and internet through TW and have unlimited log distance. Some rural areas don't have enough cell towers so you need to check with someone who has a cell phone to see if they are missing connections. All cell phone companies share the towers.

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