After watching my phone bill rise from $30-35 a month to almost $80 a month, I made the switch to OOMA. The call quality is excellent and I actually prefer their dial tone better. You know...you pick up the phone to dial and hear a nice harp sound instead of a harsh dial tone. My OOMA bill is less than $5 a month and I had a great experience. Here’s the highlights:
Set up is super easy. First, I have a Mac computer. Second, I have excellent internet thru my cable company, which is very fast and reliable. After opening the box, I read the clear instructions. I went online, registering the unit and making a user name and passcode for my OOMA account. At that point you choose a phone number, your address (for 911 location) give them a credit card number (for monthly auto-billing) and select whether you want to port your existing number. (I did want to port my number.) This all took about 5-10 minutes. Very smooth.
I plugged the unit into my internet router. It flashes one color, then another once it’s all ready after several minutes. Then, I plugged my phone into OOMA. I lifted the phone’s handset and got a dial tone. I called my cell phone from my home phone and the number (that I’d selected during the online set-up process) came up on my cell. Again, smooth.
ISSUES and SOLUTIONS:
1) Caller ID
I have the basic OOMA service, not premier. The caller ID is very basic. You just see the person's number on incoming calls, not the name. Apparently with OOMA’s Premier Pkg you see the name, a feature that isn't worth $10 a month to me.
My workaround for that was a) Going to the OOMA site, logging in to my account and typing in the names and numbers in my OOMA contact list. What's nice is you can customize it! So, instead of seeing (for example) Smith, John (like my former carrier displayed) I can have it say, “Dad Smith” or something. I also programmed a few frequently received numbers (doctor etc) into my house phone itself as a back up.
2) Outgoing caller ID:
The call quality is great. But, MY outgoing phone calls to people show up as Unknown Number on some people’s phones because I don't have Premier. (A minor issue...) So, I just let people know about it. In my mother-in-law's case, I actually programmed my home number into her phone.
Now, when I call her from my house phone, it says our name on her Caller ID. (I had to do that will my cell phone for her years ago, too. That's what made me think of it.) No big deal.
3) Multiple handsets:
I kept researching this but could never find anyone mentioning this. I have split bi-level house and wanted multiple phones on each floor. Although, I’d plugged the base unit of my ATT phone into OOMA, my ATT phone had only additional two handsets. After sprinkling those two phones upstairs and downstairs, I wanted more phones in a few areas like the basement. So, I used a splitter in the OOMA device to connect TWO base phones (a Panasonic unit and my ATT unit) to the OOMA device. Ok, it looks a little screwy to have two phones side by side on my desk, but this was genius on my part.
It enabled me to use my 3 additional panasonic headsets AND my two additional ATT ones. Those additional headsets merely need a power outlet to work, so they can be put anywhere. After using my “homespun splitter set-up” for a month, I can tell you it worked GREAT! I could roam anywhere in my house with any phone and the signal is strong on any phone I use.
In fact, a month later I bought second Panasonic unit that came with three additional handsets. I bought a second splitter, too. I plugged the splitter into one of the two splitter phone jack holes, enabling me to have three splitter phone jack holes available. So, what’s more goofy than two phone bases side by side? It’s THREE phone bases side by side! LOL! But, as a result I now had three additional handsets to sprinkle around the house in addition to the other five.
4) The “temporary number” still shows up on calls to others after porting:
Our carrier ported my number in about 6 days. We got up in the morning and phones plugged into our landline outlets were "dead." YIPPEE! I think it was a speedy switch because we solely had phone service through our carrier. (We weren’t bundled with internet/cable etc)
Once my phone line was dead, I had to restart the OOMA unit. When I called my cell phone STILL showed that temporary number! My solution? I to the OOMA site, logging in to my account. After poking around, I could see that there were two phone numbers showing up there: the temporary number and my former landline number which I’d ported. You have to actually SELECT that landline number and designate it as your number of choice for your unit! After doing that, I called my cell phone and saw my original landline number now showing up. Yippee!
My OOMA bill has been $4.71 a month which is exactly what they’d estimated that it would be. There were no nasty surprises.
You are automatically enrolled in Premier when you buy the unit and register it. They give it to you for free for a certain “trial period.” However, I was fearful of “forgetting” to decline it. So, I went to my OOMA account online and declined it ahead of time. I forget exactly where I clicked to do this, but you can decline it from the beginning. True, I’m not getting whatever benefits I’d have (better caller ID etc) but since I don’t want those things anyway, I’m not missing it!
7) Suddenly my phone number didn’t work after 60 days
After porting my original landline number over to OOMA, and later designating my original landline number, all was well. Until…
Suddenly one day (about 2 months after having OOMA) my phone didn’t work. I was out running errands and called home, getting a message that “this number is not in service.” When I got back home, I called OOMA from my cell phone. It turns out that the 60 day Premier trial period was over. Even though I don’t have Premier, I think OOMA purposely “disrupts” your service at the 60-day mark, forcing you to call them to fix this issue in an effort to try to sell you on Premier!
When I called, the gentleman was very polite, asking a few questions. He assured me he’d restore my service, but “did I want to hear about Premier?” Um, no. No problem. It wasn’t a hard sell or anything, just a suggestion. As soon as I said I wasn’t interested, he didn’t pursue it. He told me he’s fixed the issue. All I needed to do was restart the unit and my (original landline) number would be restored.
This was correct. Not only did my phone ring when I called my landline number from my cell, but my online account no longer showed the temporary number. (It had been visible all this time prior to this day, along with my original landline number.) So, I guess it went back into the cyber phone number bank for future OOMA customers to use.
Overall, I’m beyond thrilled to be out of the clutches of my former overly-expensive carrier. I completely understand those people on tv commercials who hold up their bill and rip it in half! LOL! I felt like doing that myself! I love that OOMA has 911 service, you can port your number and the monthly phone service bill is low. I highly recommend it!