Notes from a soon-to-be former ooma user

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Notes from a soon-to-be former ooma user

Post by zeke » Mon Feb 23, 2009 9:05 am

I recently tried out an ooma and decided to go with a different voip service, so I'm planning to return the ooma to the retailer where I purchased it. Here is why:

The ooma is frustratingly close to being a fantastic product. I really like the concept of providing a free service after purchasing the hardware. To some extent it seems that ooma is trying to emulate Apple products , which I would characterize as high-quality, innovative, stylish, and easy to use for nearly everyone (I don't actually own any Apple products, but I know people who absolutely love them). The ooma is very nice looking, and I like the answering-machine-like controls on the box. In terms of quality, it seems well built, call quality was excellent, on par with the other voip service I tested, and better than skype, but not perfect. This is hard to quantify, but there appeared to be some minor artifacts with the ooma that I haven't noticed on the other voip service (minor bursts of static, subtle dropouts or garbling of words). However, the call quality on the ooma was more than acceptable to me. To get it up and working is as easy as other similar devices I've used. The problem I have with the ooma's ease-of-use is that when you install the device according to ooma's recommendations, the default QoS settings seem to severely throttle uplink speeds if you have reasonably high-speed internet service. In looking thru the support area of the web site, I noticed several references to this issue, so it seems to be commonly noticed by users (This is for a product that has been out for something like 1.5 years). At the same time, the written documentation doesn't even mention the subject of QoS, and barely mentions how one even goes about adjusting settings on the device. The only way to find any description of how to adjust the QoS settings is to find it on the web site support area. If you're an inexperienced user who has never even heard of QoS, good luck.

There is also a question of value. I would wager that for most voip users this is paramount. I feel the $220 price I paid is somewhat high (I'd like to know who the marketing genius was who thought they could sell this product for $600). I paid $237 including taxes. Added to this is the $40 fee to port a phone #, for a total of almost $280. The porting fee is pretty high, and seems a bit like an effort to make the teaser cost sound lower and still get more revenue from the many users who will want to port their numbers. I know I didn't really factor that in until after I bought the device and started thinking seriously about using it long term (maybe dumb on my part I guess). The payback period for this up-front cost can be 10-11 months or more compared to other voip vendors, which is quite long considering the concerns that the ooma company will even be around that long. There is also the question of what to do with the hardware if one decides to go in a different direction several months down the road. Finally I'll note that most of the "premier" services offered by ooma for $10/mo are included in standard services of some voip providers. $10/mo isn't bad, but it starts to make ooma look a lot more like a standard voip service in a crowded field, and pushes back the pay-back period even further.

For myself, I would probably keep the device if the up-front cost had been a bit lower, and had not included that annoying $40 porting fee. Unfortunately, however, if I ask myself whether I would recommend this device to others, especially non-technical users or those who simply want a device that works out of the box w/ no compromises in performance, and also considering the apparently shaky ground that many seem to think the company is on, I would have to say the answer is no.

Anyway, this is my opinion, and I apologize if anything above is inaccurate or unfair.

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Re: Notes from a soon-to-be former ooma user

Post by busy1 » Mon Feb 23, 2009 5:34 pm

As a satisfied ooma customer, I was interested to learn why a user is dissatisfied. Yes, I am one of the inexperienced users who has never heard of QoS, but so far, I haven't missed knowing about it. And yes, I share your concerns about the future of the company, but I am more afraid that it will be bought out and I'll lose the "free" phone calls. I discussed that issue with a couple of the management and non management folks, and although they are working like troopers to make this company a success, I harbor a nagging worry that the good times will end. I hope I'm wrong, but I bought Replay TV years ago. It was a good product, too.

Getting through to ooma customer service is my only real frustration; recently the waiting times have been interminable. I haven't been able to get the fax to work, but faxing is not a compelling need for me.

What is important to me is that I hate subscriptions and the taxes and fees associated with them. You may feel that the monthly fee for the premium service is excessive, but ooma includes features that cost extra each month (plus the associated taxes) with a land line provider. Those monthly land line and VoIP costs go nowhere but up. Granted, at this point in time, ooma may not match the most sophisticated phone systems, but their product is a winner in my opinion. BTW, I paid more than you did and I'm still satisfied.

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Re: Notes from a soon-to-be former ooma user

Post by nefoma » Mon Feb 23, 2009 6:03 pm

Having been with Vonage for five years and Skype since its inception, I have difficulty understanding your rationale for dropping the ooma service.

My yearly cost for two lines with Vonage is nearly $800 and the QOS isn't as good as ooma. As for Skype, I have a $200 base unit, that sometimes drops calls, often bogs down my internet and sounds like garbage.

I have tried several of the other VOIP providers and until now have been convinced that Vonage is the best.

I am purchasing the ooma premier tomorrow after using the service for three weeks. That will bring my annual cost of using the ooma service to $299 for the first year, or $24.95 per month. The cost of porting is included in the $99 fee. That is for two phone numbers and two lines and two voice mail boxes. At the end of 12 months I will have realized full ROI. Next year it will cost me $99 or $8.25 per month. That cost is only slightly higher than what I pay for Skype (and that base unit actually cost the same as ooma's).

I purchased my ooma hub on Amazon for $199.99 and that included a free scout.

Also, I might mention that if you are signing on with Vonage as a new customer their contract is binding and involves an early termination fee.

As an experienced VOIP user I believe that ooma is the "better voip service in a crowded field". Go ahead and try the competition and eventually you will come back.

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Re: Notes from a soon-to-be former ooma user

Post by tjnamtiw » Thu Feb 26, 2009 11:47 am

I have had my ooma for just two weeks and LOVE IT and the Premier services, which I plan to keep.
Of course, we all worry that the company might go out of business but one more bright note is that Clark Howard (Atlanta TV/Radio consumer advocate) will be promoting the ooma on his show this weekend. The more publicity the better!
Long llive ooma!!!!!

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Re: Notes from a soon-to-be former ooma user

Post by skellener » Thu Feb 26, 2009 9:50 pm

I've had Ooma since August last year. No problems. Great service, great quality calls. Not even considering another service - ever.

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Re: Notes from a soon-to-be former ooma user

Post by oomg » Fri Feb 27, 2009 7:02 am

skellener wrote:I've had Ooma since August last year. No problems. Great service, great quality calls. Not even considering another service - ever.
Like skellener, I am located in SoCal. I would rate the call quality as excellent... even better than my normal AT&T line as far a background noise, etc. are concerned.

As mentioned in another post, I also have two lines on T-Mobile's @home service. This service also has great call quality... no discernable difference from ooma call quality. However, although the equipment needed for the T-Mobile system (a $50.00 router) is less expensive than the ooma equipment, at $10 per month per line, the annual cost of the T-Mobile system is $140 over the two line ooma system. Thus, given the cost of an ooma system, the cost for the first year tends to favor the T-Mobile system by approximately $20-50 assuming that the user uses, or is willing to use (or switch to) and pay for T-Mobile's cell service (minimum $40/mo. service required to qualify for @home VOIP service). Notwithstanding the cost of the cell service, the cost of the ooma system is clearly the hands down winner starting in the second year and thereafter. Since I was willing (and ready) to switch my cell service, this added cost was not a determining factor for me. But, if a buyer were already locked into a cell contract, or unwilling to switch, the ooma VOIP system is the clear winner in a price comparison.

Aside from the price, the ooma Premier provides far more features than the T-Mobile @home service. Don't forget that the ooma service also is expandable via the Scout while T-Mobile's ability to expand is limited to a wireless system.

oomg -- Voice Over Internet Person

I've learned a lot here... two months ago I didn't even know how to spell VOIP and now I are one.

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