Saturday, December 5, 2009

Saving Money of Phone Service with Ooma

Following is a post by Michelle from about the Ooma phone system. I am doing more research and considering trying it. Right now has it on sale for $150 (reg. $199)

I am really liking our new Ooma phone system. We ordered ours through Costco, as it was the best deal for us. The system generally costs $200 and it costs $40 to have our phone number ported (so we did not have to get a new phone number). We have been using it for about a month now.

My favorite things about Ooma:

:: You NEVER have to pay for phone service again! Ever.

:: And you can take the Ooma with you when you travel or move and just hook it up to the internet and use it anywhere.

:: The system comes with six free months of Premier subscription services (2nd line, call waiting, etc.), but you certainly can live a full life without the Premier service (keeping your monthly cost FREE). The basic system includes voicemail, caller ID, call forwarding and blocking calls, so we do not intend to pay for the Premier service once the free trial has ended. If you chose to subscribe to the service beyond the free trial, it costs $9.95 a month.

:: Ability to Screen Calls: When a caller is leaving a voicemail, you can hear it so you can pick up during their message or screen your calls.

:: With the Premier service, while you are talking to someone, you can also send them to voicemail, so if our 13 year old cannot take a reliable message or find a pen, he can send a caller into voicemail to leave a message for my husband or I. This is cool, but I can't see myself paying for this feature when the free subscription period is over.

:: All Ooma users have access to the online Ooma Lounge, where you can access your voicemail visually (you can also listen at home on the Hub or Scout), make changes to your preferences and changes to your account.

:: With Premier service, you can opt to enter numbers you want to block or automatically send to voicemail. To be honest, this is the only reason I would consider subscribing to the Premier service. We'll see if I dislike the telemarketers more than spending $10 a month. It has been nice and quiet lately...

:: Our US calls are free (so, yes, long distance is free within the US). Ooma proclaims that it has low international calling rates, but I honestly have not a clue about international calling rates (thankfully).

:: 911 service is supported (although you have to keep your address updated with Ooma in order for this to be effective - basically, they route the call based on where you live, it is not automatic like with other traditional phone service).

:: I avoid all those pesky taxes and fees that the phone companies tack onto each bill every month. I *hate* paying those fees and taxes.

:: Saving monthly phone service costs: Our most recent phone service before Ooma was with our cable company. It was bundled for a year and was about $25 a month, then after the year the special rate was offered, it jumped to $47 a month with all the taxes, yadda, yadda, yadda. Basically, for traditional service to our area, we are looking at $45 a month total after taxes and fees. At those rates, we make our investment back in just 5.33 months. After that, we are saving 100% each month, and over $540 a year! That is an amazing number, especially when you consider that we really are not giving up anything for the savings. Even if we opted for the Premier service, we would STILL save just over $420 a year.

:: Easy set up. It was very easy to set up and there are plenty of video tutorials online if you are a visual sort of person.

Things to know before buying Ooma:

:: Your phone system needs to be plugged into the Telo, the Hub or a Scout. So, if you have a phone that has three handsets, they all would work if the base is plugged into the Ooma. The scout would allow you to plug in another system or individual phone. This works for us because we have a phone system base with 5 handsets and then one phone in the garage hooked up to the scout. That is the thing to consider though, if you have four different phones, you would either have to buy 3 scouts, a new phone system or learn to live with one phone plus however many Scouts you choose to purchase. One phone needs to be plugged into the Hub and the Hub needs to be plugged into your router. So, if your system is completely wireless, your Hub may not be in the most convenient location. However, the Scout is smaller and has access to voicemail, etc., so you can just use that on a daily basis.

:: Porting your number. You can usually use your existing phone number (if you go to the Ooma website, you can check if your phone number can be ported), but it costs $39.99 to do so. Another thing to consider is that it takes about 3 weeks to port your phone number, so you cannot use the system right away when you receive it unless you are getting a new number through Ooma.

:: If you have a security system, it will need its own Scout. Luckily, my husband just worked this issue out before we had to cough up a service call fee from our security monitoring system. The scout is about $65 discounted online, but I am hunting one down on ebay as I write this very post (multitasking). Update: I was able to get it off of ebay for $32.95 including the shipping. I still say it is worth it - but judge for yourself. It does push us out to about 7 months before we can realize our investment back in savings. Still, in any market, a 100% return on investment in 7 months is impressive.

Save even more:

:: sells the Ooma (Telo, Hub or Scout) and you could pay for it entirely with SwagBucks if you are patient and save up those $5 gift cards you can earn for with SwagBucks. It usually takes me a 7-10 days to earn enough SwagBucks to get a $5 giftcard, but I was earning them every 2-3 days for a while - it all depends on how much you share SwagBucks with others.

:: I recently received a promotional email from Ooma, offering up three promotional code emails to save $50 on the Telo. If you are purchasing an Ooma Telo and want me to send you one of the emails with the $50 promo code offer, please leave a comment and I will send it to you. There are only 3 emails, so please only request one if you are serious about purchasing the Telo. The code is good through 12-31-09. The Telo is currently $197.85 at, with the additional $50 off, you would pay $147.85.

Full disclosure: I would also receive a $25 gift card when you used your $50 Telo coupon as a referral incentive. However, I would NOT endorse the Ooma if I did not like it and I have been honest in my post about things you need to consider when moving to the Ooma system. And you are welcome to buy your Ooma any old place - just email me if you can use the discount to your advantage.

We have the basic Ooma system and a Scout (I am not being paid or given an Ooma to review, this was bought on our own). The new Ooma Telo looks pretty slick, but I was happy with the deal I found on my older Ooma Hub and Scout. I found our deal at Costco, where I paid $189 for the Hub and Scout together (it was a special purchase).

I wish I could say we are pocketing that $45 a month phone service savings, but since my husband decided to get an iPhone, we are now spending most of that a month for his service. I will say that at least we have more overall service now without any additional cash outlay. (That is my attempt to look on the bright side. How am I doing?)

So, if you have are considering Ooma, I will tell you that although I wondered what the catch is, I have not found it yet and have been very happy with our Ooma system. So, for what it is worth, you have my recommendation.

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