Ooma's Unlimited Home Phone Service?
Thu, 10/08/2009 - 16:18 -- Team Ooma
Dear Ooma Users,
It seems that we’re still confusing people. Couple that with the Internet practice of “Ready. Fire. Aim.” and we’ve created a perfect storm. There have been a lot of posts here that have been just factually incorrect, and it has created additional confusion that I hope this post helps to clear up.
I’m going to try to lay out for everyone what “Unlimited” service means and why minutes per month are discussed as part of an unlimited service – either the 3,000 minutes per month since September of 2007 or the new 5,000 minutes per month in the recently revised terms & conditions. I’m going to try this without the legal jargon and definitions that permeate typical terms and conditions documents. So I’ll ask you to not try to read between the lines or try to be the next Perry Mason, but simply engage in a dialog about the rationale behind our policies.
First, and most importantly, our product offers unlimited residential phone service. Period. No limit on minutes, no hidden fees, no “bait and switch”. Here’s the big “but” in the definition of unlimited. We designed this service as a home phone or residential system and have consistently promoted it this way. We do not want, and cannot afford, to have businesses begin to utilize the service consuming a huge volume of call traffic and driving our monthly call termination charges through the roof.
We humans, being what we are, will constantly “work the system” to save money. But if we don’t at least police our system to prevent abuse – use of our service in obviously non-residential ways – then the ultimate impact is born by you the respectful Ooma user. Abuse of the service by non-residential users drives up costs, decreases reliability, stretches our systems beyond their intended application, and puts at risk your reliance on the vital communications service we extend to you.
So how do we police the system to ensure compliance? One of the tools we use is to look at the nominal amount of minutes per month your account consumes. Can a residential user go over this? Yes. And they frequently do during times of family emergency, weddings, etc. That’s perfectly fine with us. But when we see month after month use of more than 5,000 minutes it sets off a red flag that the calling patterns of that number should be more closely evaluated.
Once again, residential use is not a problem, non-residential or business use is not desired, hence the $39.99/mo fee for non-residential use in our terms and conditions. We’re really trying to tell you we don’t want you to use Ooma as a commercial business phone service replacement. So what does this mean if you have a home office? Most likely nothing. We know that a lot of our current users use their Ooma system with a home office, and our Premier package includes a number of supporting features. We will introduce a business version of our service next year, but it will not be the same business model as the Ooma Telo or the Ooma Hub.
How did we decide what number of minutes constitutes residential service? A little bit of guessing and a whole lot of experience over the last 2 years. The average number of minutes consumed by Ooma subscribers is just 400+ minutes per month. The number of Ooma accounts that fall into the 5,000+ minute per month category is less than 0.1%, but they consume a huge percentage of the total monthly phone call connection fees we have to pay. Call volume in some of these cases exceeds 10,000 minutes per month - almost 6 hours a day, 7 days a week, on the phone.
I hope this helps you understand how and why we’ve come to the decisions we have made regarding the use of Ooma as a residential phone service and why we have to be diligent about protecting the integrity of Ooma’s residential phone service. I love the fact that a lot of you have written to me privately as well as multiple blog posts sharing your opinions with me, both positive and negative. I read all these emails and posts and try to respond to as many as possible.
Thank you for being an Ooma customer.
Chief Marketing Officer