The Fail of NetTalk

If being able to travel (move to a new city) but stay in touch is important to you, then you may end up doing what I did and looking for a phone number/service you can take with you.

I was in this situation a few years ago when I moved to a new town for a job promotion. I looked for a solution for a ‘mobile’ phone number; a number I could take with me where ever I went. I first checked with Telus and Shaw, and neither has a solution. With Telus, the closest solution would be a cell phone plan with coverage where you will be going. I wanted something that would not have to change regardless of where I traveled or moved to, and I wanted it separate from my personal cell phone number that I shared with family and friends.

After a reasonable amount of research, I chose NetTalk. It involved buying a small device that plugged into my computer and my phone, and then setting up an account online.

At first all seemed to work fairly well. I was able to set up a voicemail and the system could take messages and then email them to me; something I love. (Shaw does this too, but with Shaw you must have a land line as well at around $36 a month.) With NetTalk, once I was set up, my cost was only going to be about $45 a year. (The initial device cost for the NetTalk I went with was about $70)

It didn’t take more than a couple months to realize the phone part of the NetTalk system was not being reliable for me. Calls would drop while I was on with someone, or the quality of the call would be very poor. Finally I had to go back to using my Telus cell phone to have a clear chat with someone. I wasn’t totally crushed by this because I could still use my NetTalk number as a voicemail for on ads and cards/posters etc, and I would receive the voice mails as an email in my regular email inbox, so I did not miss the calls, and was able to return them within 24 hours.

I thought I had found a long term solution, because who wants to be giving out their cell phone number to everyone? However, I soon found out that NetTalk would fail me enormously and without timely help I had to move away from the service forever. I now do not trust NetTalk and would never go back to using their service even if it was free.

I don’t know how many customer/business contacts I missed out on while discovering the NetTalk fail, because I would get the emails for voice mails but when I played them, there was nothing there. I assumed they were hangups. You know, the one where the person stays on the line long enough for the voicemail spot where it records your message to start, before they hang up…. I thought that was what I was getting – hang ups. However after not receiving any actual voice mails for some time, I decided to run a test.

I called my NetTalk number, listened to my clear and effective message, and then left my message. I then checked the email from the timing of that message, and it too was blank. I was immediately horrified as I realized I probably had missed many messages, and that people were out there thinking I was just too rude or something, to call them back. I was so upset. I immediately contacted NetTalk support (which itself is quite the process, don’t get me started….) and after approximately 6 months of trying to resolve the problem and having to rely on alternate methods, I finally threw in the towel on NetTalk and had to re-order all my printed materials that had that number on them.

Around the 9 month mark NetTalk customer service aggressively contacted me and would not go away. I told them it was too little too late and to cancel my account, that I had moved on. I was paid up for the year, so there was no way they should have tried to re-bill me come January 1 of the new year, but surprise (no surprise) they did. I also recommend to all my clients that you have a separate credit card for these types of things, and change the number on a yearly basis so you can’t be over billed. (Or get a Debit credit card at your bank, and only put money on it when you are paying a legitimate bill.) Many of these types of companies are quick to bill you but getting a refund can be close to impossible. Don’t hesitate to contact your credit card company and reject these charges. You may have to send in some documentation to back up your rejection, so always keep notes on problem companies like this, once you realize there is a problem.

In all the whole NetTalk experience was very costly for me and my business. I DO NOT recommend this service to anyone. I am still looking for the type of service I want, and at this point all that is, is a number I can use to advertise etc that sends people to a voicemail where they can leave a message, and I then get that message emailed to me. That is all I want, but apparently at present, nobody (reliable/proven) offers it. I may end up looking into a 1-800 service, if I can find something reliable that doesn’t require a land line expense to obtain.

Cell phones today are very reliable and it is all I use at the time of writing this post. One cell phone with a North America plan on it.

Happy Calling !!

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